Photos and review: Bon Jovi plays intimate show for charity at Colorado Convention Center - Reverb

Live review: Bon Jovi @ Korbel Ballroom (Colorado Convention Center)

When Bon Jovi plays Denver, the multi-platinum arena rock band plays the big rooms — the Pepsi Center, and McNichols Arena before that. But on Friday, the band known for genre-defining hit songs “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “You Give Love a Bad Name” played a cozy club show inside the Colorado Convention Center’s Korbel Ballroom to help raise funds for the Center for Dependency, Addiction and Rehabilitation.

Frontman Jon Bon Jovi was front and center as he led his six-piece band through a party set that jogged from covers to favorites. The singer-guitarist, wearing tight black jeans and a fitted black T-shirt, was relaxed and playful throughout the set, often asking the dressy, chatty crowd, “How’re we doin’?”

They were doin’ just fine, according to the crowd’s hands-in-the-air reaction. The band’s set suited the party atmosphere inside the ballroom, which had purple, twinkling lights across the ceiling. The band led off with a cover of the Dave Clark Five’s “Glad All Over” that went directly into the sing-along “You Give Love a Bad Name.”
Yep, it was a feel-good set list for a feel-good night.

Patrons pushed against the stage wearing everything from designer suits to Ed Hardy T’s. An older woman wore a tiara. A teenage boy wore a backwards baseball cap. It was all good.

The Denver Broncos’ new executive vice president of football operations, John Elway, introduced the band to the excited, tipsy crowd as “not only great guys, but the greatest rock band in the history of music.”

The hyperbole was lost on the crowd — some of whom paid $50,000 for a table, their entry to Friday’s event. By the time the show started, tables full of wine bottles and schwag bags were left abandoned as everybody pushed forward, camera phones raised just so, to get closer to Bon Jovi, guitarist Richie Sambora and the rest of the crew.

The weight of Bon Jovi playing such an intimate room didn’t go unnoticed. Kids from the kitchen peeked out a side door to catch some of the show, and even the off-duty police officers snapped a couple of shots with their camera phones before sheathing them and taking up a more official pose.

And the band? They joked around like Friday was a public dress rehearsal — all smiles for the fans. One eager fan brought a sign to the front that read, “My husband hates you . . . He knows I dream about you.” After winking at girls in the front row through “We Weren’t Born to Follow,” Bon Jovi asked the fan for her sign. He held it up and read it out loud to the crowd. Catcalls ensued.

“Yeah, but after you’re done dreaming,” Bon Jovi quipped to the front-row fan, “your husband thanks me for all the attention he gets.”

It was a night of music, laughs and good times — and Bon Jovi never missed a beat

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Ricardo Baca is the founder and co-editor of Reverb and an award-winning critic and journalist at The Denver Post.

Evan Semón is a Denver freelance photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.

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