by Marcel M. Groeneveld
– Columnist –
October 10, 2012 at De Melkweg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Richie Sambora kicks off tour in Europe!
What do you do if you are in one of the biggest rock bands from the last 3 decades, had some bumpy roads to cross in your personal life, getting over a divorce, facing a few bad habits, going to rehab and dealing with the death of a love one?
Well you turn to what you do best and find comfort in making music. And that is just what Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi fame has done. Turning his “bad medicine” mojo into a new recording and delivering his most personal solo album up to date. With his new album Aftermath of the Lowdown Sambora is baring it all and share’s it with the world.
The starting place of Richie Sambora’s European tour of all places happened to be Amsterdam. The city is known as the other city of sin with all its temptation. The show sold out within a couple of hours and as the tour schedule allowed the extra demand, a second show was added to accommodate the fans and was close to a full house again (capacity Melkweg 1500 M.M.G).
Opening up was the Irish one man show, singer and songwriter Bjorn Baillie. He was just armed with his guitar, harmonica and his raspy voice he had the heavy duty to entertain and warm up an audience who only wanted to see Bon Jovi ‘s main man play. However all credits go out to him, with his melodic songs, he received a decent response from the audience. Of course the comparison with the other Jersey man Bruce Springsteen was not hard to make.
The lights went down and as the music stops the band began to walk out on stage, as the audience recognized Sambora, they went wild even before a single note was played. Sambora was overwhelmed with the response and the joy on his face, standing in the spotlight does him well. This is his party, for him him alone, he opened the set with the first song from his new album “Burn That Candle Down.” Sambora shared his new songs by almost playing the entire album performing 8 out of 10 the tracks.
Without a doubt the enthusiastic audience did not notice the flaw of imperfection on a couple of songs. Sometimes the mix in the venue was a wall of sound making some songs unrecognizable. It was obvious that the spotlight was on Sambora exclusively not his backing band. The additional video screens, five all together, were glued to him the entire performance.
After the songs “Every Road Leads Home” and the more upbeat “Nowadays” followed one of the highlights of the evening in my opinion when the guys played “Stranger In This Town.” The song has that raunchy bluesy feeling, more so than the new songs which followed although “Taking A Chance On The Rain” might as well be on the first 1991 solo album Stranger In This Town.
Again drummer Aaron Sterling and bassist Curt Schneider were way out there, too heavy in the mix for the song “Weathering The Storm.” Much of the song had a Beatlesque vibe to it, had not been done any justice by the sound guy, what a shame.
When Sambora played the happy sounding song, “Sugar Daddy,” which is definitely a sing and clap along song; there was some serious crowd participation going on. “I’ll Be There For You” won over the last few fans who were standing at the side of the stage. It was a victory for Sambora, as he couldn’t stop smiling and being grateful after all the ups and downs, he is still on top of the world.
With “Hard Times Come Easy” all the cameras came out when Sambora got handed the double neck guitar from his guitar tech, everybody thought “Wanted Dead Or Alive” was next, but the slow intro started and cameras were turned off. Luke Ebbin was handling the second voice besides playing keyboards and guitars and finally was mixed properly in this song. He really got a bad deal tonight as did the other keyboard player Matt Rollings with the way the sound guys handled the live mix. After the ballad “You Can Only Get So High” the band was introduced. Then they played yet another beautiful ballad “Falling From Graceland” from Sambora’s second solo album, 1993 Undiscovered Soul. To be sure to get an encore Sambora finished the show with the Bon Jovi song “Who Says You Can’t Go Home” with a choir of nearly 1500.
The band came back on stage for “Golden Slumbers,” a Beatles cover, which finally set the mix on a decent level for all the instruments. This even gave Aaron Sterling time for a small drum solo going the progressed into a guitar duel between Sambora and David Ryan Harris during “Carry That Weight.” The band took a bow to the audience and posed for a photo shot with the audience on the background.
The moment everybody was waiting finally happened. Sambora returned to the stage with the double neck acoustic guitar starting “Midnight Rider” and launched into “Wanted Dead Or Alive.” The foundation shook again by everybody singing the lyrics and caused goose bumps to rise. Although the second high pitched, raspy voice that Richie does when John Bon Jovi sings lead was missing (should have been taking care of by Luke Ebbin) the song still kicked ass. The song was revolutionary and started the whole Unplugged sessions on MTV after their performance in 1989 at the American Music Awards will stand the edge of time.
Still the audience couldn’t get enough of the band they were treated to and “Livin on A Prayer” which was the icing on the cake, rocking Amsterdam and almost causing the dikes to blow again. To close the show an extra song was added which wasn’t part of that nights set. Since Sambora was overwhelmed, even a little bit emotional by the amazing response he received, another gem was given to the people with the Bon Jovi song “These Days.” Sambora walked of stage while the band played on and after finishing this song the venue turned on the house music system and lights because otherwise they might even now still be playing in Amsterdam spreading the joy of their music.
Overall, it was a fun night out, although the sound engineer was not in great form. It was still great a performance of Richie Sambora and his band.
Richi Sambora – Lead Vocals, guitars
Luke Ebbin – Guitars, Keyboards, Background Vocals
David Ryan Harris – Guitar
Aaron Sterling – Drums
Curt Schneider – Bass
Matt Rollings – Keyboards
Burn That Candle Down
Every Road Leads Home
Strangers In This Town
Taking A Chance
Weathering The Storm
Learning How To Fly A Broken Wing
I’ll Be There For You
Hard Times Come Easy
You Can Only Get So High
Falling From Graceland
Who’s Says You Can’t Go Home
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight
Livin In A Prayer
Richie Sambora Photo Gallery
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Pictures courtesy of Annick Eyecatcher.