MONCTON, N.B. — About 33,000 rock fans partied with Bon Jovi under a hot sun on Saturday in Moncton, turning the Magnetic Hill concert site into a giant Maritime kitchen party.
The atmosphere was festive, as a steady flow of people with silly hats, short skirts, homemade T-shirts, halter tops, no shirts, funky rubber boots, cowboy hats and tattooed and pierced bodies, arrived for the concert.
There were teenagers, couples and grandmothers, athletes and bikers and many families camped out on the grass, the gravel, the VIP grandstands and under the corporate tents.
With several other big concerts coming into the Maritimes this summer, there were fears that ticket sales for the Bon Jovi show wouldn’t sell.
However, promoters said that as good weather appeared, thousands turned up at the gates to purchase tickets for the show.
The Bon Jovi show has been billed as a warm-up to the AC/DC concert on Aug. 6, which is expected to draw 60,000 to 80,000 fans and possibly be bigger than the Rolling Stones concert here in 2005.
“The AC/DC show is a must-see for a lot of people. This one, a lot of people were wondering and waiting on the weather,” said Andre Hudon, president of Donald K. Donald productions.
On Saturday, the few clouds that threatened to dampen the party were burned away by the hot sun.
The spirit of the party continued to grow slowly with performances by Alfa Rococo, Mobile and State of Shock, but the mood picked up as Canadian music legends Randy Bachman and Burton Cummings ran through a rollicking set of old favourites from the Guess Who, Bachman Turner Overdrive and Cummings’ solo career.
The honky tonk sound of Cummings’ piano mixed with the searing sounds of Bachman’s guitar on songs like My Own Way To Rock and got the crowd moving on their feet.
They cheered, they waved, they danced and provided a chorus of thousands of voices for Cummings on Share the Land and Bachman’s timeless anthem Takin’ Care of Business.
Cummings took time out to compliment the crowd and the venue several times.
“This has got to be the best concert site in North America,” said Cummings, who was wearing a Jimi Hendri T-shirt. He also paid tribute to the spirit of Canadians.
“Turn on CNN for 15 minutes and then go outside and kiss the ground of Canada,” Cummings told the crowd.
“We are one of the last places where you can live like human beings. So whatever God you pray to, thank him or her that you live in Canada.”
And that was just the warm-up.
Jon Bon Jovi and his band marched onto the stage at 9 p.m. sharp, cranked up the volume and lit into the classic Glad All Over to warm up the crowd for a two-hour set of hits that included Born to Be My Baby, Runaway, Sleep When I’m Dead, It’s My Life, I’ll Be There For You and many more.
They closed the set with the ’80s classics Wanted Dead or Alive and Living on a Prayer, joined by a chorus of thousands.
MacKenzie Milson, a 23-year-old student from Toronto who attends the Moncton Flight College, said he didn’t plan on coming but relented when his girlfriend was able to buy two tickets for the price of one in one of the many special deals being offered in the final days before the show.
Tickets were $99.50 for general admission and $199.50 for seats on the VIP grandstands.