Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bon Jovi in Stuttgart ~ Canstatter Wasen (May 27, 2006)

Guido’s birthday was May 25th, and my mother had a very special birthday present for him: a weekend in Stuttgart, Germany including a Bon Jovi concert! And lucky Gyano and lucky me, were allowed to join the trip! So Nijmegen was not my last concert after all! And this one was still in May, so I wasn't breaking my own thesis rules either.
Stuttgart is a long drive away from where we live so we left very early in the morning arriving at our hotel in Stuttgart somewhere in the early afternoon. We all freshened up and took the S-Bahn to the Canstatter Wasen in the center of Stuttgart. I have been to many Bon Jovi concerts but I have never seen anything like this before, they over organized the streams of people in such a way that it looked like total chaos. They made all the thousands of people walk through several streets of city center until finally being steered towards the entrance of a huge field. It seemed to take ages to get from the train station at the Canstatter Wasen to the entrance of the concert field. They first led us all away from the field through the city and then after a long walk we had to make two rights (that’s right, so we were walking back in a parallel street) until we arrived back at Canstatter Wasen. I have no idea what the point was, maybe they were trying to impress all the Bon Jovi tourists with the beauty of their city? Well, it didn’t work. And this wasn’t the only point of frustration, later in the pit the German security forced everybody behind some plastic line, effectively cutting the size of the pit in half and we were all getting very intimate with strangers because of it. Normally I wouldn’t be so frustrated with weirdly behaving security because there will be other concerts to make up for it and make me forget about the nonsense rules that the local security made up. But this was the first and probably only time I was at a Bon Jovi concert with my parents and brother and I wanted them to have a great experience.
The birthday certificate Guido got for his birthday
Minke lend me her fanclub membercard, so Gyano could use it to enter the concert field before the masses of people outside did. So Gyano and I went inside an hour before my parents who used the regular entrance. Gyano and I went to check out the pit and to find Mike Devlin (Bon Jovi’s stage manager), because he arranged pit wristbands and onstage wristbands for the four of us. I had not told Gyano or Guido about this arrangement, only my mother knew and we decided to keep it a surprise for the men. But Gyano was there when I met up with Mike, and he was quite puzzled about me talking to this Bon Jovi crew guy like I knew him and even more so when that man handed me a handfull of wristbands. Naturally, Gyano was very happy when he found out what was going on. Later when my parents finally got onto the concert field, it was time to surprise Guido with the wristbands, and he went slightly nuts with happiness! He did a little dance and some jumping around because he was quite excited about the whole pit and onstage thing! Thank you Mike Devlin for allowing Minke and I to bring so much happiness to our families (Minke’s brother and his girlfriend were onstage with us in Nijmegen)!
Look at how happy Gyano, my mother and Guido are with the wristbands
This is my happy family on the Bon Jovi stage. Thank you Mike!
Cool view!
The view from under the stage
The concert was magnificent again and they sang many special (to me) songs like, the dark ‘I Want To Be Loved’, the all-mighty ‘Complicated’ and they ended with ‘Never Say Goodbye’ always a good tearjerker, especially at the end of your last concert (like during the 2003 tour). We had a great time on the stage and my family did not have enough eyes to take it all in and experience everything, especially the thousands of people in the field going crazy.
The setlist
Jon on the bridge
When we were dancing on the stage I suddenly felt someone touch my leg, it was Chris Hofschneider a.k.a. Lumpy! He saw me dancing onstage (again) and came to say hi from under the stage. Later he came back with a little present for me: one of Richie’s guitar picks!! Can you imagine how happy he made me? Deliriously happy!! I was already jumping up and down during ‘Bounce’ but now my jumps were even more frantic and frequent! Thank you, Chris! You rock!

Richie's guitar pick! Thank you Chris!

Can you see me making pictures of Jon Bon Jovi (Guido is standing next to me)?
"Raise Your Hands"
Bye bye Bon Jovi
After the concert we went back to our hotel (after a tediously long walk through the city again, but nothing could ruin my happiness anymore) and relaxed with some cocktails, and the next day we did some Starbucking and sightseeing in Stuttgart before heading home. And that ended my 2006 Have A Nice Day Tour, it was unforgettable!
SETLIST
01. Last Man Standing 02. You Give Love A Bad Name 03. Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen From Mars 04. Born To Be My Baby 05. The Story Of My Life 06. Complicated 07. I'd Die For You (ONSTAGE) 08. The Radio Saved My Life Tonight (ONSTAGE) 09. Bounce (ONSTAGE) 10. Wild In The Streets 11. In These Arms 12. Have A Nice Day 13. Who Says You Can't Go Home 14. It's My Life 15. I'll Be There For You (Richie) 16. Bad Medicine / Shout 17. Raise Your Hands 18. Livin' On A Prayer 19. I Want To Be Loved 20. Bells Of Freedom 21. Someday I'll Be Saturdaynight 22. Wanted Dead Or Alive 23. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead 24. Keep The Faith 25. Never Say Goodbye

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Bon Jovi in Nijmegen ~ Goffert Park (May 25, 2006)

A week after our Koblenz escapade, we went to Nijmegen. It was the day before Bon Jovi’s concert in the Netherlands and we already headed towards the concert venue. Even though we knew we weren’t going to spend a night in the fanclubline anymore (we enjoyed being out of the line way too much last time), we still loved being at the venue a day before. You really get to experience the calm before the Bon Jovi storm that way, and it’s great to orientate a bit, besides we had agreed to meet up with our new Dutch-Bon-Jovi-crew-buddies and have a night on the town with them. We arrived in Nijmegen and explored the huge grounds, shuddered after seeing all the nasty faces of the fanclubline posse again, and found the perfect parking spot near the backstage entrance.
We took the citybus into the city center, where we went for dinner and afterwards we met up with Arne and Jurgen. They had been working hard on making the stage strong enough to hold all the concert violence that was about to happen a day later and now it was time to rewind for them. It was a fun night with lots of laughter, lots of alcohol and dancing, especially Minke and Jurgen were dancing the night away. For us, this was the most unusual way to spend the night before a concert, but it is much more enjoyable than lying on a thin mat in a cold sleeping bag on the concrete. Time creeps by when you are waiting and I used to smoke the hours away cigarette by cigarette, but I quit smoking in 2004 and I wasn’t going to start just to make the waiting for a concert time seem shorter. But now we found another way to find time pass by quickly: party!

Arne & Lou in 'De Drie Gezusters', a cafe in Nijmegen


Minke & Jurgen in 'De Drie Gezusters', a cafe in Nijmegen
The next morning, well rested after sleeping in an actual bed and all refreshed after a hot shower we were ready for the big day of our last concert this tour. The Bon Jovi crew bus took us to the concert venue, and when we arrived at the venue the backstage gates magically opened up, and that is how we ended up backstage, we took a look around which was fun. Minke’s brother Feike and his girlfriend Nadine were also coming to see the concert and obviously we were meeting them somewhere outside of the backstage area, so we said goodbye to our party pals and left the backstage area.

Minke & Lou backstage

Backstage with our Dutch-Bon-Jovi-crew-party-buddies

Richie Sambora's new girlfriend Denise Richards

The stage a couple of hours before the concert seen from the middle of the field

We utterly surprised Feike and Nadine when we told them that Mike Devlin (Bon Jovi’s stage manager) had arranged pit wristbands for them and more shockingly onstage wristbands for all of us too! Feike has been to several Bon Jovi concert before and loved being onstage and Nadine couldn’t believe how close we were to the band onstage until we were actually there.

On the Bon Jovi stage with Feike and Nadine

The band as seen from the stage

Lou & Minke onstage for the third time, seeing what happens during a concert from the band's perspective

Unbelievably, Minke and I were kind of getting used to going onstage but the new dimension of making your family and friends so happy was awesome. This time Bon Jovi rocked ‘I’d Die For You’, ‘The Radio Saved My Life Tonight’ and ‘Everyday’ which brought back memories from being onstage in Oostende in 2003, because it was during the bridge of this song that Jon kissed Minke! No ‘Dry County’ this time but we finally heard the almighty ‘Complicated’! And they sang ‘I’ll Be There For You’ and ‘Bed of Roses’ in the ‘This Left Feels Right’ version, which made Minke and me very happy!

Jon performing 'Last Man Standing'

Richie & Jon intimately performing the TLFR songs

Sadly, this was the last concert Minke and I went to together this tour. Arne and Jurgen did invite us to come to the Manchester show in June, all we had to was get there they would arrange a night out on the town, a place to stay, concert entrance and backstage access. What an awesome offer, and it broke my Bon Jovi heart to have to decline that dream of an event. I just couldn’t do it to my final thesis. I had spend the entire month of May doing Bon Jovi related things and now there was only one month left to write more than half of my thesis. Sometimes a girl has to set priorities (even if she doesn’t want to) and make sacrifices, so I did.
Unfortunately, this meant that Minke also had to miss all that Bon Jovi goodness for the good of my thesis. Naturally, I wasn’t comfortable making her do that, so I made sure to acknowledge her sacrifice in my thesis and thank her for her understanding. She is such a great person, even though she was disappointed that we couldn’t go, she never resented me for it and understood my decision.

Bye bye Bon Jovi (and extra musicians)

SETLIST

01. Last Man Standing 02. You Give Love A Bad Name 03. Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen From Mars 04. Born To Be My Baby 05. The Story Of My Life 06. Complicated 07. I'd Die For You (ONSTAGE) 08. The Radio Saved My Life Tonight (ONSTAGE) 09. Everyday (ONSTAGE) 10. In These Arms 11. Welcome To Wherever You Are 12. Have A Nice Day 13. Who Says You Can't Go Home 14. It's My Life 15. I'll Be There For You (This Left Feels Right) 16. Bed Of Roses (This Left Feels Right) 17. Bad Medicine / Gloria 18. Raise Your Hands 19. Livin' On A Prayer 20. Someday I'll Be Saturday Night 21. Bells Of Freedom 22. Wanted Dead Or Alive 23. Runaway 24. Just Older 25. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead 26. Keep The Faith

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bon Jovi in Koblenz ~ Kurfürstliches Schloß (May 17, 2006)

Our second concert was going to be in the courtyard of a castle-ish building in Koblenz, Germany. We decided to go do the camping-out thing again, although honestly we were getting a bit fed up with it. But as we were only going to see 3 concerts this tour, we wanted to make the most of them. We left early, and we ended up being amongst the 5 first people in the fanclubline. Minke and I were number 4 and 5, meaning we would be two of the very first people to enter the pit and find a great spot on front row. So, we were getting ready for many, many hours of waiting and talking to some friendly fellow fans and ignoring the behavior of certain other fans who have been getting on our nerves for several tours.


The fanclubline leading to the side entrance of the concert grounds
We made a small trip back to our car to get some supplies and our sleeping bags, when Minke needed to use the restroom. I suggested she'd use the restroom at the nearby hotel but she insisted (without really knowing why, she just felt that she had to go there) that she'd go inside a really cute-looking restaurant named the Weindorf, to look for a restroom there.
Inside was a lovely courtyard filled with tables and chairs, creating a great place to have a bite to eat or a glass of wine. And that is where Minke spotted him, our hero from the 2003 Bounce tour. The man that had arranged backstage stickers and onstage wristbands for us during the June 8 concert in Oostende, Belgium. He was the reason that we were dancing on that stage with Minke holding her "Damned, it's my birthday" cardboard banner, that I whipped up for her a few hours before the big show. Richie Sambora noticed the banner and came over to congratulate Minke, but Jon Bon Jovi didn't settle for just a handshake, he planted a big wet one right on Minke's lips! Celebrating your birthday with a kiss from Jon Bon Jovi, what a dream! The man that had made all that possible, was Mr. Mike Devlin, and he was sitting right there in the Weindorf courtyard!
Fanclubline rules allowed us to leave the line for a maximum of 60 minutes, otherwise we'd lose our spot and have to start all over at the back of the line. But Minke had been drawn to the Weindorf and reunited us with our concert hero, so we quickly discarded our number 4 and 5 spots in the tedious fanclubline. Instead, we thoroughly enjoyed the excellent German wine Mike treated us to and spent way more than one hour catching up with him, about everything. During the last Bon Jovi tour Mike was the head carpenter but for this tour he had been promoted to stage manager. Mike had the afternoon off and was relaxing at this restaurant with some awesome goulash soup (according to him) and the nice weather.


Minke & Mike Devlin (Bon Jovi's stage manager)

After Mike left the restaurant, Minke and I (a bit tipsier than before) went back to the fanclubline and were greeted with many angry looks, after all we had been gone for several hours and were majorly breaking those all-important rules. Who did we think we were?! Before the head of the self-proclaimed-important-posse could start scolding us, and this is not an exaggeration she spends a lot of time telling people off, we told her we decided to leave our spot in the line and spend the night somewhere else. This left her and her cohorts speechless and suddenly without a reason to howl at us, seeing the disappointment on their faces was excellent. Those poor people now had to find someone else to holler at in order to feed their pomposity.
Last tour, Minke and I were already declared groupies, when we disappeared from the fanclubline in the middle of the night and appeared onstage the next day, wearing greatly desired backstage VIP stickers. During this new tour there were still rumors about all the sexual favors we must have performed in order to get there! All the nastiness that people have been spreading about us is very amusing, and the new development of us suddenly leaving our prime fanclubline spots spurred a whole new wave of rumors :o.


The stage under construction
Free from all the fanclubline madness, Minke and I suddenly had a whole evening to enjoy and relax. After going for a walk through the center of Koblenz and checking out the stage, we decided to go back to the Weindorf for dinner and drinks. Just after we ordered Mike showed up again. This time Mike brought a friend to sample the goulash soup, and this friend was none other than Mr. Chris Hofschneider a.k.a. Lumpy! This means nothing to you none-Bon Jovi fans, but it was a big deal to us, he is Richie Sambora’s guitar tech and personal friend, and we see Chris onstage every concert. It was slightly shocking for us to be introduced to him and when he sat down next to me to eat dinner. At first it was a bit surreal to be dining with those two gentlemen, but it was a fun evening and we enjoyed a great conversation and had a lot of laughs.

Chris Hofschneider a.k.a. Lumpy (Richie's guitar tech) & me
It was a good decision to spend the night in our car instead of on the street, because that night it was pouring so hard, that we might have flooded from our grass beds right into the nearby river. The next day we woke all dry and happy and spend a wonderful morning and afternoon in Koblenz, while all the other fanclub members were still trying to get semi-dry. About an hour before we were allowed to enter the concert grounds we returned to the fanclubline and to all the cross looks of wet and exhausted people!

Minke & Lou backstage

When all the others went rushing off to secure a place in the pit we went to explore the rest of the concert grounds. Two Bon Jovi crew guys started summoning us and we hesitantly went to talk to them, and to our big surprise these guys were Dutch! I thought I heard one of them sing a Bon Jovi song in Dutch earlier, now it made sense. Together we watched all the non-fanclub members enter the concert grounds about an hour later, and they were all running frantically towards the stage hoping to get into the pit. It was an fascinating sight, and luckily we had nothing to worry about because Bon Jovi management had provided all the fanclubmembers with pit wristbands already, so we could walk in and out of the pit at our leisure.

People waiting to get on to the concert grounds

The stage ready for a big concert and the first people in the pit

The storm had cleared away all the clouds and dark weather and on the day of the concert there was lots of sunshine and it was a pleasant temperature. The concert was awesome and Mike had provided us with onstage wristbands again, which made the entire spectacle even more spectacular! I love the 'Have A Nice Day' album and hearing the songs live makes it even more brilliant. We ‘Bounce’d like crazy onstage, nananana-ed our asses off during 'Born To Be My Baby', and 'The Story Of My Life' became extra special after experiencing it onstage. Again we were treated to ‘Dry County’ and the highlight was ‘I Want To Be Loved” which sounded really dark and excellent!

This tour's backstage stickers and the setlist for this concert

Jon and Richie and thousands of people singing along

Normally we can't see Tico (drummer) well, but from the onstage pit we could

The big bow that ended another awesome concert

After the concert, our new Dutch-Bon-Jovi-crew-friends found us again, and introduced themselves as Arne and Jurgen. Arne had actually made some pictures of us during our adventure onstage and of course we wanted to get a copy of them. We ended up enjoying a long night of laughs, talk and great German wine (and goulash soup for Minke) at the Weindorf courtyard again! I wonder if we spend more time at the concert or in that restaurant courtyard?! Anyway, we made some plans with the Dutchies the night before the next concert in the Netherlands and called it a night way toooo late!
SETLIST
01. Last Man Standing 02. You Give Love A Bad Name 03. Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen From Mars 04. I'd Die For You 05. The Radio Saved My Life Tonight 06. Bounce (ONSTAGE) 07. Born To Be My Baby (ONSTAGE) 08. The Story Of My Life (ONSTAGE) 09. Misunderstood 10. In These Arms 11. Have A Nice Day 12. Who Says You Can't Go Home 13. It's My Life 14. I'll Be There For You (Richie) 15. Someday I'll Be Saturdaynight 16. Keep The Faith 17. Bad Medicine / Shout 18. Raise Your Hands 19. Livin' On A Prayer 20. Dry County 21. Wanted Dead Or Alive 22. I Want To Be Loved 23. Runaway 24. Sleep When I'm Dead

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Bon Jovi in Düsseldorf ~ LTU Arena (May 13, 2006)

Finally, three years after the Bounce tour Bon Jovi was back in Europe with the 'Have A Nice Day' tour! Of course Minke and I were very excited and wanted to go to a record number of concerts this year. I write wanted, because we were unable to actually do that :(. Back then, I had no income at all because I quit my job somewhere in August 2005 after moving from Maastricht to Belgium, so I paid for my concert tickets with money I earned by selling my belongings (that I cannot move with me to Japan anyway) online.
Also I was in the middle of writing my Master Thesis (very important because in order to get a working-visa for Japan I had to graduate this year) and this Bon Jovi tour was smack-dab in the middle of my 3 months of thesis writing time. I ended up writing my thesis in 2 months (April & June) instead of 3, because Bon Jovi kept me busy in May. We actually prepared to go to a June concert as well, but I had to cancel it because my thesis deserved some of my time and attention too, but don't worry my thesis was awarded with a whopping grade 9, and my thesis supervisor was very impressed that I wrote it in only 3 months, as far as he knows ;).
So with a severe shortage of time and money on my part, and with Minke also having scarce resources in those areas, we had to settle for 'only' 3 concerts this tour. But we were determined to enjoy them to the fullest!

Minke almost in front of the fanclub line after a night of sleeping on the street

Our first concert was in the LTU arena in Düsseldorf. What we did during previous tours was go to the venue the day before the concert and camp out until the next day, so that we would be somewhere in the front of the fanclubline, and therefore be amongst the first to receive pit (the area right in front of the stage) wristbands and the first to enter the stadium and pit securing a spot on the first row. This always works out as planned and we have already enjoyed many concerts within smelling distance of Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora ;)!

The rest of the fanclubline behind us: all the way in the end it bends to the left and continues even further
So this is exactly what we did in Düsseldorf, we arrived early, met the same people we meet every concert every tour (sometimes pleasant, sometimes annoying), slept outside, waited in line for over 24 hours, received our wristbands, secured a spot on the front row and enjoyed an awesome Bon Jovi concert! By the way, the line you see in the picture is just people from the fanclub, the other tens of thousands of people were lining up outside other entrances of the stadium. The fanclub has a seperate entrance because we are allowed to enter the stadium about 30-60 min before the rest, yes that is right, it pays to be a member of that club!

Minke & Lou (holding up a camera) on front row (in the yellow circle)
Besides the awesome view, the nice thing about standing on front row is being able to make some very nicely detailed and upclose pictures of the band members. Completely irrelevant to you non Bon Jovi fans, but the absolute highlights of this concert were 'Bells Of Freedom' and of course 'Dry County' (utter surprise and a tear generator)!

Jon in flymode
After a great experience we went home satisfied, but we were wondering if we were getting too old to do the 'sleeping outside and waiting for two days' thing. Mind you, there are more than enough people doing that who are many years older than we are, but we kind of felt like we have had enough of it. It is awesome to stand on front row, but if we show up on the day of the concert a few hours before the show starts, our fanclubmembership would still get us into the pit, ensuring us of a great view anyway. Big advantage would be an enormously reduced amount of stress, because lining up with the fanclub means you have to put up with the egos of many important (self-proclaimed and self-maintained) fellow fanclubmembers and the bickering between them.

Richie singing Novocaine
SETLIST
01. Last Man Standing 02. You Give Love A Bad Name 03. Captain Crash And The Beauty Queen From Mars 04. I'd Die For You 05. The Radio Saved My Life Tonight 06. Novocaine 07. Everyday 08. Born To Be My Baby 09. The Story Of My Life 10. Joey 11. In These Arms 12. Have A Nice Day 13. Who Says You Can't Go Home 14. It's My Life 15. I'll Be There For You (Richie) 16. Someday I'll Be Saturday Night 17. Keep The Faith / Sympathy For The Devil 18. Bad Medicine 19. Raise Your Hands 20. Livin' On A Prayer 21. Bells Of Freedom 22. Runaway 23. Sleep When I'm Dead 24. Dry County 25. Wanted Dead Or Alive 26. Treat Her Right