Before releasing the twelfth addition to their discography, What About Now, arena veterans Bon Jovi announced a huge, ninety-one date world tour spanning all five major continents, with first time dates in Poland and Bulgaria and their first performances in Africa in almost twenty years. Why? Because they can.

The Because We Can tour sees Bon Jovi perform five times in England, and with three of those dates done and dusted, they will return for a  performance at Hyde Park this July after a brief stint in Europe.

Though there are many different support acts throughout this tour, the fans attending Sunday’s performance at Villa Park had the pleasure of listening to an energy-filled and well performed set from Of Kings And Captains, an upbeat pop-rock band from Stourbridge in the West Midlands. Though currently fairly unheard of, the band didn’t seem to be overwhelmed by the extremely large venue and managed to impress the audience, getting a great reception to their small set of original material.

Onto bigger names and larger sets; The Enemy were on next as the second and final warm-up act of the evening. Their big indie-rock sound suited the arena layout exceptionally well. With many of their melodies and hooks being quite simple, it was easy for the audience to get involved without necessarily having heard any of their previous material. Complete with a cover of the 80s hit ‘Sit Down’ by James, their hour-long performance went down well with the excited fans who were waiting for Bon Jovi.

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Bon Jovi opened their set with ‘That’s What the Water Made Me’ off their latest album before heading straight to their classics with ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’. From this point, it became quite noticeable that the absence of Richie Sambora on guitar affected the band’s live presence, with lead guitar being shared between Bobby Bandiera and newly added Phil X. Though they are both very talented guitarists, they lacked the connection usually found between Bon Jovi and Sambora, and was somewhat detrimental to the performance.

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With or without Sambora, the rest of the band still gave their all and put on an amazing show. Tico Torres and David Bryan on drums and keys have not lost any talent with age, and without Sambora taking up some of the thinly spread spotlight, they seemed to shine all the more this evening. Bon Jovi showed the crowd that he’s still got it with a first-rate performance of ‘Amen’ off their latest album, delivering the powerful high notes with emotion and ease.

After their first encore, and having played for almost three hours by this time, the band dragged themselves back on stage for two more songs that they let the audience decide on. After giving an ever-powerful rendition of ‘Always’, the band finished the evening with the more upbeat ‘Blood On Blood’, filling the stadium with enough energy to get everyone home for the night and to keep them talking about the show for days to come.

Photos by James Riches