Thirty years ago today--on July 2, 1987--Bon Jovi played B.C. Place Stadium. The band was huge at the time, touring behind its Vancouver-made Slippery When Wet album, the top-selling album of the year.
I wasn't the biggest Bon Jovi fan in the world, but I liked that tune "Livin' On a Prayer", so I went and did the review.
It's not like I had to armwrestle Alexander Varty for the assignment or anything.
Jon Bon Jovi had a novel way to describe the horrendous sound in B.C. Place last Thursday (July 2).
“I’ve fallen in love in Vancouver more times than there’s echo comin’ out of these speakers,” said the 25-year-old sex symbol, sounding more than pleased with the idea. Man, if that’s the truth, then young Jon gets around a helluva lot more than this kid thought physically possible.
Bon Jovi’s amorous pursuits aside, the sound was definitely scary, but not enough to frighten away any of the 25-thousand-odd fans who showed up to revel in the made-for-radio rock of tunes like “I’d Die For You” and “Livin’ On a Prayer”. As a kick-ass live band, Bon Jovi doesn’t even come close to acts like Van Halen or D.O.A., but they do their best.
For this part, Jon is pretty good as cutting through the territory that divides audience and performer. In fact, he spent so much time slapping hands with the kids at stagefront that you had to applaud his bravery. One swift tug from an over-rambunctious fan and that would have been it for Jon boy. Can you say “torn apart” boys and girls?
“This one is especially for every one of the erotic dancers in Vancouver,” announced Jon, before a couple of thunderous blasts catapulted the band into their massive hit, “You Give Love a Bad Name”. Jon wasn’t about to let the night go by without a nod to the local strippers that kept he and his colleagues entertained when they were in town recording Slippery When Wet last year. Neither was he going to ignore his favourite watering hole. He proudly donned a No. 5 Orange t-shirt for the last song of the show, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Travelin’ Band”.
He also called out a few friends, namely Bob Rock (who engineered the LP) and a couple of Loverboys, who jammed along with members of his opening band, Cinderella. When it was all over the fans sidled out, many in the direction of the Metro, which was throwing “The Official Bon Jovi Afterparty” with the Killer Dwarfs.
Judging from the size of the crowd gathered on the Georgia Street sidewalk, that advertising ploy worked very well. The Metro’s bouncers were getting crabbier by the minute, trying to keep the excitable club-goers in line. There was only one guy on stage who resembled a dwarf at all, and that was the leader singer, Russ Dwarf. The bassist and drummer, Ronald and Darrell Dwarf, were of average height. The guitarist, Mike Dwarf, was more like a giant.
Compared to the stadium, the acoustics in the Metro were superb, and before long the band’s metallic attack started sounding pretty good. They were much too plodding on several tunes, but on ones like “Stand Tall (Stick to Your Guns)” and “Keep the Spirit Alive” they hit the right stride.
And they were a riot to watch. I’d never seen anyone sing while standing on their head before, but Russ Dwarf did that without missing a note. For anyone who’s partial to heavy metal, I’d recommend the zany Killer Dwarfs. But if they ever get huge like Bon Jovi, don’t go see them at B.C. Place.