Bon Jovi / Van Halen – Weserstadion, Bremen; May 27th, 1995
My first Bon Jovi concert and my first stadium concert – I had absolutely no clue how these things work or how early people get in line to be at the front. A., my boyfriend, who went with me only because Van Halen were supporting told me stories about getting into “the pit” – I had no idea what that meant. Anyway, we left Osnabrück at 10:00 and drove to Bremen, arrived around noon and were shocked by the number of people already in line – so much for the pit! The weather was shitty, we were soaked to the bone before they even let us in and needing glasses was a further disadvantage. When they finally did let us in it was a lot of pushing and shoving. We did make it to a spot at the center a little bit behind the pit. I’d already had enough, but now I was there, so I might as well enjoy it.
Over the course of the evening, we saw many girls being pulled out of the crowd because they had fainted. I swore then and there that would never happen to me. What a shitty experience for them. Time dragged on until showstart and before the bands we had come to see there were two others. First up was Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. I didn’t like all of the music, but it still felt special to me, because seeing Little Steven on stage was like getting a glimpse at Springsteen, whom I had never seen perform with the E Street Band. It was alright and made me feel happier. Ugly Kid Joe I didn’t care for and only waited for their set to be over. By then it didn’t even matter any more that it was still raining.
Finally, somewhere around 6:30 pm we heard the first notes of ‘The Seventh Seal’ and a big, red Van Halen banner was pulled up at the back of the stage. This was the exact moment I started smiling. “YEAH!” I yelled and many others yelled wit me. I wasn’t a fan at that time, A. was, but I loved their current ‘Balance’ album and I had been looking forward to seeing them for a while. Now it was really happening and the band was on stage. We could even see them OK, though a bit far away. Sammy Hagar walked out and looked at the sky, considered for a second, then walked on all the way to the front of the stage and into the rain. “Listen!” he said, “as long as it’s raining, I’ll stand right here and get wet too.” He instantly won me over and from then on, I would refer to myself as a fan. Such a smallgesture, such a huge effect. (Even now in 2013 as I am writing this post from – admittedly somewhat hazy – memory, I can still recall what that moment felt like. I have long since moved on to other bands, but still follow Sammy’s career and still fondly remember these days.)
They got to play something like 75 minutes – it was almost a full headline show (at least in terms of what most bands would consider one). The setlist was nicely selected and had quite a few of my favorites. Now I could have done without the long guitar and drum solo, but songs like ‘When it’s love’, ‘Dreams’, ‘Feelin’ or the amazing ‘Don’t tell me’ made up for that. I was entertained, I could not keep my eyes of Sammy who was running back and forth across stage, showing what a great frontman he is, I had fun, it was love! When they were done, I could have easily gone home, but the best was yet to come.
Setlist (probably incorrect).
The Seventh Seal
When It’s Love
Can’t Stop Lovin’ You
You Really Got Me (The Kinks cover)
Why Can’t This Be Love
There’s Only One Way to Rock (Sammy Hagar song)
Don’t Tell Me (What Love Can Do)
It all started with the music of Queen’s ‘We will rock you’ playing and the audience in the pit clapping their ands in rhythm. I watched as the band walked out on stage, Jon never standing still, jumping and dancing around as he launched into the first song. “Tommy used to work on the docks…” before I knew it I sang along and started smiling, all the hours in the rain forgotten. They urged us to sing and clap along right from the start and by the third song most people did. Nothing mattered any more other than hearing the music and watching them perform.
They played so many songs I wanted to hear, older and new. It looked like everyone was having fun, not only on the stage, but in the audience too – I certainly was. The cheers after each song were deafening already but got even louder as Jon told us the show was being broadcasted live on the radio. While we were waiting for Bon Jovi, the rain stopped and once they had started playing the sun came out. Jon commented: “For the next to hours even God wanted to come to a rock show. We got no more rain people. Let’s get this show on the road baby.”
‘Keep the faith’ was a song that worked much better live than on the album. I raised my hands und for every chorus as I sang along. From back where we stood I could not see many details, unless I looked at the big screens, but right then and there it was enough to hear the music and be able to see the entire stage. There was no time to wonder what it would be like to be closer. The show rocked on and I was happy, alive. I had not seen that many concerts in my life up to this point and felt the drugged called live music running through my veins.
‘Blood on blood’ was a surprise for me, because it had not been a single. It brought back memories of first listening to ‘New Jersey’. All the time there was a group of fans on stage, standing in the background, dancing. It seemed to be part of the show and Jon sang to them at times. I could only imagine how happy they must feel to be this close.
Generally I liked the rockers better than the ballads, but I loved the mixture. It was pretty much perfect, at least for a first timer like me. ‘Dry County’ stuck out for me as especially beautiful with a great piano intro, beautiful guitar parts and Jon getting down on his knees to sing. Everything was amazing! Towards the end of the main set with ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’ they had two huge blow-up dolls by the side of the stage. One was Elvis and one a naked woman with a chicken head. WTF? I thought it was kinda stupid and shook my head at the rock ‘n’ roll cliché, but it could not spoil my enjoyment.
They played three (!) encores. For the first one they were joined by Little Steven. Seeing him on stage again made me happy. I swore next time I got a chance I would finally go and see Springsteen as well. During the second encore they premiered ‘This ain’t a love song’ the first single from the upcoming album ‘These Days’ – I instantly liked it. For the last encore then, they went back in time with ‘Runaway’. People went nuts for that one and yelled for more when they left. Soon they came back out, Jon remarking they’d played too long the previous day and had gotten complaints so he wanted people to really complain this time. They ended everything with ‘I’ll be there for you’ and fireworks, promising to return soon.
It took ages to get out of the stadium and the day’s exhaustion was taking its toll, but I was smiling, knowing many concerts would follow.
Livin’ on a Prayer
You Give Love a Bad Name
Wild in the Streets
Keep the Faith
Blood on Blood
I’d Die for You
Blaze of Glory (Jon Bon Jovi song)
Lay Your Hands on Me
I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead
Bad Medicine (With “Shout”)
Rockin’ All Over the World´(John Fogerty cover)(Little Steven joined Bon Jovi)
Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night (Little Steven joined Bon Jovi)
With a Little Help from My Friends (The Beatles cover)(Little Steven joined Bon Jovi)
Wanted Dead or Alive
This Ain’t a Love Song (Premiere: First time in Europe)
I’ll Be There for You
P.S.: About a year later the common experience of having seen this concert led to getting to know my best friend B. – music does bring people together. 🙂