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The Bon Jovi Experience review: They give tributes a good name

PUBLISHED: 10:19 09 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:19 09 December 2019

The Bon Jovi Experience at The Waterfront in Norwich on 6th December 2019. Picture: Adam Aiken

The Bon Jovi Experience at The Waterfront in Norwich on 6th December 2019. Picture: Adam Aiken

Adam Aiken

A pair of tribute bands at the Waterfront in Norwich show us why the oldies are still the goodies, writes ADAM AIKEN.

Toxic Twins at The Waterfront in Norwich on 6th December 2019. Picture: Adam AikenToxic Twins at The Waterfront in Norwich on 6th December 2019. Picture: Adam Aiken

It's fitting that Aerosmith tribute act the Toxic Twins are playing tonight, as it comes on the day that the real Aerosmith have been confirmed as finally bagging a slot at Glastonbury - next year's appearance marking their 50th anniversary.

Unsurprisingly, given the peaks and troughs of the Boston band's career, tonight's set doesn't cover the complete half-century of their catalogue, focusing instead on the circa-1990 period alongside a handful of 1970s tracks.

Cryin' is a little out of tune, but things are put right with an impressive (and heavy) rendition of Mama Kin. Rag Doll and Dude (Looks Like a Lady) are two other highlights, although inevitably it's the cringeworthy I Don't Want to Miss a Thing that gets the loudest reception.

Apart from the obligatory scarves on the mic stand, there are few attempts by this female tribute band to mimic the real Aerosmith, which is a good thing. Too many acts spend all their time trying to look the part, with the music being their second priority.

The Bon Jovi Experience at The Waterfront in Norwich on 6th December 2019. Picture: Adam AikenThe Bon Jovi Experience at The Waterfront in Norwich on 6th December 2019. Picture: Adam Aiken

The Bon Jovi Experience, though, show that they can deliver on both fronts, and although there's something slightly strange about talented musicians trying to look and sound like other people, when you can nail it to this level then what the heck! After all, if hundreds of people have turned up to pay homage to a band that isn't actually here, why shouldn't the five guys on stage be doing it, too?

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Tonight's "Jon Bon Jovi" is a spitting image of the real man, even down to the between-songs banter, and it's easy to get lost in the moment and think you're watching the real thing.

Again, there are no huge surprises in the setlist - after all, we don't come to these shows to hear the B-side of some single from the early 1980s. Raise Your Hands, Blood on Blood, Runaway and others are faithfully reproduced and take us on a whirlwind tour through Bon Jovi's career.

Blaze of Glory, with its country twang, is an early highlight, and (although it was actually a solo release by JBJ) is a reminder that Bon Jovi's reputation as a one-trick pony is wide of the mark.

"Richie Sambora" on guitar looks like he's having the time of his life, grinning all evening, although with his trench coat he could just as well have played the part of Joe Perry in the Toxic Twins.

The set crescendos to its conclusion, with "Sambora" on talk box in both It's My Life and obligatory closer Livin' On a Prayer. It's a thrilling end to a cracking set.

There's one lingering disappointment about the evening, although it's not the fault of anyone on stage: with so many people prepared to watch an act that, while great fun, isn't real, why do so many of the decent "real" bands that tour this neck of the woods struggle to attract the crowds?

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