Bon Jovi @ MetLife Stadium

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ— Everyone knows the name Bon Jovi. Since their inception, Jon Bon Jovi and the rest of the band have garnered much success throughout the world, but they have never let it get in the way of their love for their home state. The group is as much a part of New Jersey as Bruce Springsteen or the Jersey Shore. When fans heard of Bon Jovi’s performance at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, they swarmed to get tickets. They purchased tickets online, as travel packages, through LivingSocial, as members of the fan club, bought VIP passes, backstage tours, the works. These aren’t just concerts for most in attendance; it’s something much more.

Fans arrived as early as 2:00 for the show and waited to get their tickets, VIP passes, gift bags, t-shirts, and whatever else they might have purchased. As workers set up tents and security prepared the gates, they watched and waited with as much enthusiasm they could muster. When doors opened, the fans rushed the venue to get their goods and find where they had to be. Some attended exclusive parties, took tours, bought merchandise and hit the bar, and others fled right to their seats. As they looked on to the field, they could see the classic car setup that was inspired by an old photo of a 1959 Buick Electra 225.

The J. Geils Band, fronted by Peter Wolf, kicked the show off. They took the stage at 7:30 and played hits like “Freeze Frame” and “Centerfold.” The crowd cheered with excitement as J. Geils performed, reminiscing with each other of past concerts seen and records purchased.

Fans were on their feet when Bon Jovi hit the stage around 9 p.m. Throughout their three-hour set, the audience would throw up signs that said “New Jersey Loves You,” hoping to be put on the big screens on either side of the stage. Attendees danced and sang to all 26 songs played, ranging from the band’s first to their latest album, What About Now?, which was released back in March. Starting with “That’s What The Water Made Me,” they then went to “You Give Love A Bad Name,” building the excitement up more and more.

Bon Jovi said he had his swagger on as he started to shuffle around the stage with his lips puckered and the riff for “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” came on. They then continued with “Start Me Up,” as these two songs were inserted into the middle of “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead.” The band wasn’t done with some of their favorite classics. Their performance of “Bad Medicine” included Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock And Roll,” which kept everybody on their feet dancing. These tracks concluded the band’s set and they thanked the fans before they set off the stage.

As the crowd chanted for more, the group took the stage for what would be the first of two encores. The first one featured some of the band’s more popular material like “Runaway,” as well as “Livin’ On A Prayer” and “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” The energy was electric as the audience sang along to the band. They would provide a second encore, ending with “Always” and the fitting “I Love This Town.” Smiles were all around as people exited the stadium and walked to their cars.

What made these two performances more important than the rest? It was a homecoming. We flooded to see Jon Bon Jovi and the band in their home state, playing to fellow residents and others visiting from across the world. Why did some fly across the country to see another Bon Jovi performance? Why wait outside the venue hours before doors opened to get floor wristbands? Why make entire days of these two events? Because we can.