WHAT do you get when you cross anthemic tunes with high energy and top class musicianship? Bon Jovi.
The US rockers opened this year’s trilogy of summer gigs at the Stadium of Light with style as they fused new releases with classic rock tracks.
Around 45,000 packed the home of the Black Cats for the band’s Because We Can tour.
Despite this tour being one that has travelled the globe, Jon Bon Jovi, 51, still gave it his all, rallying the crowd to join him as the band performed a tour de force of rock ‘n’ roll.
With Jon clad in a stars and stripes denim jacket and a set designed to look like a Buick car, there was no denying this was an American rock band at the top of their game.
At the very front were the Bon Jovi faithful who belted out every note with outstretched arms. And they were rewarded for their loyalty: early birds were treated to Jon Bon Jovi mingling on the pitch a few hours before the gig.
No matter how many gigs I’ve seen at the stadium, seeing 20,000 gig-goers on the hallowed pitch never fails to impress.
Jon and the band may have been doing this for decades but they imbued every song with a passion and enthusiasm for their craft.
Most notably, Keep The Faith which drew every one into the concert, becoming like a musical football chant for Mackem rockers.
But it wasn’t just the Bon Jovi tracks which filled the air, Jon’s jukebox section featured Status Quo’s Rockin’ All Over the World.
Moving back to their own anthems, Jon declared: “I came to the northern tip of England for one reason and one reason only: for someone to warm my soul.”
He gave that warmth back tenfold, as did the rest of the band with some of the best guitar solos I’ve heard at the stadium.
The mic sound wasn’t as crystal clear as I’ve heard at the venue before and I couldn’t always make out what Jon was saying in his strong American drawl but the music spoke for itself.
As the sun set over the Wearside landmark, the multi-million record-selling band launched into Livin’ On a Prayer, which lit up the stadium like a glitter ball of phone lights and waving arms.
After that the stadium thought it was all over ... but the band saved the best till last.
Their newer tracks from What About Now just can’t compete with the classics and Always was a magical performance with the whole crowd, young and old, united in one celebration of rock.
•There was an incident involving a number of stewards during the gig, with some fans reporting on Twitter a man had had a heart attack. No details have yet been confirmed.