Saturday morning July 31, 6.30. I wake up out of a deep sleep to the sound of Livin’ on a Prayer. I am disoriented and it takes me a couple of seconds to realize that it’s my wake up call on the morning of the big concert day and the radio is playing one of my favorite Bon Jovi songs. I shake my head, smile and tell myself this can’t be real, it definitely must be destiny. I bought tickets for the concert 3 weeks earlier when I started the bucket list after one of my colleague’s wife died at the age of 38. Seats close to the podium at a Bon Jovi concert was one of the things on the list.
Chicago seemed for now the last concert in the US and I decided that I might not get the chance again to see them any time soon so I convinced my friend Virginia to come with me. I searched online for tickets and decided that if we were doing this we might as well go all the way so I was ecstatic when I found tickets in the circle, Pit 4, row 3. On the left side of the stage, the side where Richie normally plays as Virginia is a big Richie fan. For me it has always been Jon.
It’s a beautiful Californian morning when I leave the house; the clouds are starting to lift as I drive over to pick up Virginia. Top down, wind in my hair, sun on my face and Bon Jovi on the speakers, life is good! When I arrive at her house and see Virginia outside the house, I can’t help laughing. We look like twin sisters: both wearing black skirts with cream colored jackets…..She shakes her head and tells me she should have checked with me. Too late now, we are on our way.
Just before 9am and we are in the United Red Carpet lounge at SFO , sipping our mimosas, toasting each other that we are crazy enough to fly to Chicago for less then 18 hours, just to see Bon Jovi. After a quick 3 hours and 15 minute flight, we land in Chicago. I have booked the Hyatt Regency at O’Hare as we have an early flight back on Sunday morning. The shuttle takes us to the hotel and by 5pm we are checked in. Time to get ready and I take out my jeans and white shirt that I had planned for tonight. Virginia has one look and shakes her head in horror. “I can’t believe it; I was planning to wear jeans and a white shirt as well, are we really going to the concert looking like the bopsie twins?”, she asks me. So I compromise and decide to wear my black shirt instead.
I had it all planned out (of course, after all I am little miss efficient), we would land at 4.20, get ready and leave the hotel by 5.15. The plan was to have a real Chicago dinner at the original Morton’s of Chicago Steakhouse. We were supposed to be at Morton’s at 5.45 to make it in time for the concert at 7, but my careful planning had not counted on a traffic jam on Saturday afternoon, damn! I am sitting in the taxi cursing myself and impatiently checking Google maps on my Blackberry to see how far away we are. I also check what tonight’s opening act is so when we finally make it to Morton’s by 6.10 I start to relax and decide I can enjoy dinner as I don’t mind missing part of Kid Rock.
We have a great dinner and a great time talking to our waiters about our Bon Jovi adventure. They give us advice on what is the best way to get to Soldier Field from the restaurant. They tell us that last time Bon Jovi played in Chicago they had dinner right here in Morton’s.
After another taxi ride, this one a lot quicker, followed by a ride in a bicycle taxi for the final leg to the stadium, we are inside Soldier Field by 8PM, just in time to hear Kid Rock sing last years hit “All Summer Long”. This was my favorite summer song last year and I sing along while we make our way thru the stadium trying to find our seats. We get to our seats and for the first time I realize how close to the stage we really are: the last 2 seats on row 3, next to where the stage ends and the circle begins.
Kid Rock plays for another hour and it’s actually a good show. We take pictures and chat with security and smile at the little girl behind us that has a sign that says “I picked this” a BJ logo “over this” a picture of Chuck-e-Cheese. The new generation Bon Jovi fans are here! The next day her picture is actually on the Bon Jovi Facebook Page.
Then it is finally time: the show we came here for is about to begin. The stage has been changed after Kid Rock, the lights go out and I have goose bumps on my arms and realize I am holding my breath…..and there they are….kicking it off with Happy Now and We Weren’t Born to Follow from the latest album, followed by Bad Name.
I look around after the first song and don’t think there is one person in the whole stadium still in their seat. And they are close…so close it is a dream come true. We could not have had better seats except maybe front row. Richie is close and even Jon seems to be more on this side of the stage and comes right over where we are, right there in front of us…….
Born To Be My Baby, Lost Highway, Blaze of Glory and Its My Life, one great song after another. Virginia and I smile at each other as we sing along with It’s my Life. Her 3 year old daughter recognizes it from my ring tone and will sing along with it and ask “can you play life again”, after it finishes and she will add “I like Jon Jovi”. We are singing and dancing and I am hoping the night will never end. Bad Medicine is meshed up with Pretty Woman. I had hoped for the version with Old Time Rock and Roll, but they did that the previous night. The security guy pulls me aside and tells me we should go to the back of the circle now as Jon is about to go up there for the next song. He tells us to give him our purses and he locks them next to the stage….its good to make friends with the right people……
We are pretty close when Jon comes to the front of the circle. One song with Kid Rock and then “Something For the Pain” and “I’ll Be There For You”.
We are at the edge of the circle and Richie walks right by us both on the way there and back and touches Virginia’s hand both times, mine on the way back. We look at each other and smile….this is good, this is better then good.
The night ends with Dry County. I have to say that the set list tonight is not my favorite. I had hoped for at least Always, which is still my very special Bon Jovi song, Blood on Blood, Hallelujah and Superman, but it doesn’t matter in the end, the songs are all great, the band is great and the show is great. Although they thank Chicago after Dry County, we know the night isn’t over as they haven’t played Prayer yet. The question is: how many more songs will we get. It’s almost 11.30 by now.
And then there are the first notes of Livin’ On a Prayer and although I love the song, I don’t want to hear it as it means the night is over. Jon starts without any music: “you got to:……. hold on….. to what you got… it doesn’t make a difference if you make it or not….. we got each other and that’s a lot for love, so we’ll give it a shot…and oh..” and then he lets the crowd finish the first chorus “oh we’re half way there…..oh oh living on a prayer, take my hand, we’ll make it I swear…oh oh livin’ on a prayer”. Around 60,000 people singing what is probably the most classic Bon Jovi song. I cannot describe what it is like; you have to be there to experience it. It is absolutely fantastic and I cannot imagine a better way to end this wonderful night.
Thank you Bon Jovi for putting up a fantastic show. You have been my inspiration thru the years: thru the good times and the bad, the laughter and the tears and after all these years you guys still rock….. and definitely not in chairs yet :-). I panicked when Jon tore his calf muscle on July 9 and I they posted it on FB that Sunday. That was a bad day: first my country lost in the world cup final and then I saw the post on FB about Jon and I was afraid the concert was going to get canceled. But Jon being Jon, had them, as he said on FB, put Humpty Dumpty back together to finish this part of the tour and tonight he was his usual charismatic and passionate self. Tonight truely was a dream come true.