Richie Sambora At The Fonda Theatre
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By Crystal Larsen
Famed Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora spent the last night of the 2012 leg of his Every Road Tour with a packed house of fans at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles on Nov. 13, and it couldn't have come at a better time. Moved by the devastating damage Hurricane Sandy wreaked on his native East Coast, Sambora donated all profits from the concert to the American Red Cross' hurricane relief efforts.
What did supporters get in return? Sambora at his best, complete with superb vocals, fiery fretwork and plenty of rock-and-roll swagger. As the floor of the venue packed tighter and tighter, bold fans (many of them female) squeezed their way to the front barricade to get an up-close-and-personal glimpse of the guitarist they're accustomed to seeing from afar in larger stadiums and arenas, performing alongside Jon Bon Jovi.
But on this night the spotlight was on Sambora, and he shined brightly. Touring in support of his third solo album, Aftermath Of The Lowdown, Sambora's set was full of new songs and the crowd, some whom had come from as far as Japan, received them well. Backed by a stack of Marshall and Friedman amplifiers and strapped with his vintage-looking Fender Stratocaster, Sambora opened the show with "Burn The Candle Down," a song filled with what would rule the evening: heavy riffs and outstanding guitar-playing.
Not slowing down, Sambora led directly into the first single off his album, "Every Road Leads Home To You" — an anthemic tribute written for his daughter, Ava, who was in the audience. After the blazing distortion on "Nowadays," Sambora promised he'd play some "s*** we wanted to hear." Stripping off his black-and-grey leather jacket to reveal a button-up sleeveless shirt, he led into the familiar bluesy opening to "Stranger In This Town," the title track from his 1991 debut solo set. Though he wrote this song more than 20 years ago, his passionate delivery proved no one forgets where they've come from, not even Richie Sambora.
Sambora spent a good portion of the evening revealing where he has been for the last few years. Though he's continued to tour with Bon Jovi, Aftermath Of The Lowdown is his first solo effort since 1998's Undiscovered Soul, and the guitarist had much to report, evidenced by songs such as "You Can Only Get So High" and "Seven Years Gone," the latter of which will be his next single from the album.
Though the crowd was clearly glad to have a solo Sambora back, the GRAMMY winner, along with his capable five-piece band, soared through some of Bon Jovi's biggest hits, including "I'll Be There For You," a slowed-down version of "Livin' On A Prayer" and "Wanted Dead Or Alive," the latter of which nearly turned the crowd into a frenzy as Sambora strapped on his double-neck acoustic guitar. Sandwiched between covers of the Beatles, John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen was a quick solo rendition of "Rosie" at the request of one lucky front-row fan.
After thanking his family for putting up with his "s***," Sambora capped the evening with a spirited performance of Bon Jovi's "These Days."
These days, the stars seem anything but out of reach for Richie Sambora.
"Burn The Candle Down"
"Every Road Leads Home To You"
"Stranger In This Town"
"Taking A Chance On The Wind"
"Weathering The Storm"
"Hungry Heart" (Bruce Springsteen cover)
"I'll Be There For You" (Bon Jovi)
"Hard Times Come Easy"
"Seven Years Gone"
"You Can Only Get So High"
"Who Says You Can't Go Home" (Bon Jovi)/"Wild Night" (John Mellencamp)
"Wanted Dead Or Alive" (Bon Jovi)
"Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End" (the Beatles cover)
"Livin' On A Prayer" (Bon Jovi)
"These Days" (Bon Jovi)