Tonight was Richie Sambora’s only UK show on his short European tour. When I arrived at the venue, there were huge queues outside for this sold out gig – the longest queues I’ve seen for any gig at this venue (and I’ve been to a lot of gigs here). Everybody seemed keen to get inside the venue early on. Once inside, the place was absolutely packed.
First up tonight was the support act – Bjorn Baillie. He’s Irish singer/songwriter who performed playing the acoustic guitar and singing, as well as playing Harminica during one song. He did struggle to make an impact unfortunately with a lot of people chatting away rather than enjoying his performance, so towards the back of the venue it was hard to hear him clearly. Happily by the end of the set more people stopped talking and enjoyed his show, and during the last song he did get people singing along to the parts he asked them to sing. A good performance but clearly the crowd were here for Richie Sambora and many weren’t interested in hearing anyone else.
At 8.45 the house lights went down and the excitement rose with people clapping along and singing along to the intro tape. As soon as Richie and his band came out on state the place went wild. He kicked off the set with “Burn that candle down”, and right from the start he had the audience singing along. With video screens behind the band Richie was centre stage in the spotlight singing and playing guitar. The rest of the band definitely had more of a background role, but were clearly very talented handling a variety of styles during the night with ease.
“Stranger in this town” was quite a bluesy song and really impressed me – Richie clearly has a love of the Blues and this was one of several songs tonight to demonstrate the diversity of music that he loves and sings. “Taking a chance on the wind” was one of several songs in tonights set to be taken from his new album. I must say that I havent actually listened to a Richie Sambora solo album before but after tonights performance then I’ll certainly be checking out the new album. “Weathering the storm” was introduced as a song he had written with Bernie Taupin, and was yet another great song – they just keep on coming with not a single weak song tonight. Around halfway through the set he started to sing the Bruce Springsteen song “Hungry heart” before changing into the Bon Jovi song “I’ll be there for you” which as you can imagine got a fantastic reception, and after the song ended the crowd carried on singing the chorus several times before allowing Richie to continue with the show. Later we got an Oasis cover – “Don’t look back in anger” too – part of an amazing set.
During an extended “Fallen from Graceland” Richie introduced his talented band, then after just one more song it was the end of the set, and I was surprised to see he’d been on stage for an hour and three quarters – it certainly didnt feel anywhere near that long which is the sign of a good gig. An hour and three quarters may be longer than many bands play, but Richie Sambora was nowhere near finished – we still had the encores to come, and that was another half hour of music.
He started the first encore with “Wanted dead or Alive” wearing a cowboy hat as he played a twin necked guitar. A beatles medley and a couple more songs received great receptions but he saved the best till last, closing the night with Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a prayer”.
Before tonight I really wasn’t sure what to expect from Richie Sambora – as a long time member of Bon Jovi I expected him to be good, but I really hadn’t expected him to be just this good – this was an amazing night. Musically he was on top form, and played a superb selection of songs. He was clearly enjoying himself, as was the crowd, and over two hours of great music just flew by. It’s a shame he only played one UK date, but lets hope he returns to the UK before long as I’d definitely recommend going to see him if you get the chance.
Burn That Candle Down
Every Road Leads Home to You
Stranger in This Town
Taking a Chance on the Wind
Weathering the Storm
Learning How To Fly With a Broken Wing
Hungry Heart/I’ll Be There For You
Hard Times Come Easy
Don’t look back in anger (Oasis cover)
You Can Only Get So High
Fallen From Graceland
Who Says You Can’t Go Home
Wanted Dead or Alive
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End (The Beatles cover)
These Days (Bon Jovi song)
Livin’ on a Prayer