Richie Sambora with Orianthi at The Olympia Theatre, Dublin, 30th June 2014
Once Richie Sambora and his talented entourage of musicians had taken their final bow, a bewildered fan turned to his companion and exclaimed “Jesus, he’s better than Bon Jovi!”. This comment was met with a very sincere nod in agreement. A comparison in this regard is largely unhelpful but helps demonstrate Sambora’s individual capacity as a front man and a musician. He has not been eclipsed by his hugely successful career with Bon Jovi and he brought some of his best to Dublin’s Olympia Theatre.
Casually walking on to the stage dressed in a swanky white coat, Sambora managed to contain what must have been bewilderment at the reception he received from the crowd’s cheers. Dedicating the old Leon Russell number Song For You to the audience was one of the nicer, more unassuming methods he could have used to open his show. Not yet armed with a guitar he put his whole body into this opening vocal performance which has not even remotely diminished over the years.
From this he shed his white coat to reveal the rock star beneath and launched into a triumphant rendition of Every Road Leads Home To You. His set list contained sizeable chunk off his most recent solo effort ‘Aftermath of the Lowdown’ and he played just enough Bon Jovi songs to satisfy the audience, but not nearly enough to suggest that this was anything other than a Richie Sambora show.
Flanked by fellow guitarist/supposed love interest Orianthi, the duo offered up some truly astonishing guitar work, with the occasional guitar duel thrown in for good measure. Orianthi’s presence must not be understated because once you take her out of the equation, the gig really wouldn’t have been the same powerhouse of rock n’ roll that it was.
While most of the guitar work was of the face-melting variety, Sambora never sounded quite as smooth as when he glided through Stranger In This Town. But while spontaneity and a ‘jam-vibe’ were the order of the day, it did at times appear a little self-indulgent, most notably on the acoustic cover of Orianthi’s You Don’t Wanna Know where the duo perhaps went on a little too long.
While Sambora’s solo work was received warmly throughout the show, the crowd kicked it up a gear for the Bon Jovi classics. To give Sambora credit, considering what he has gone through (just listen to the some of the lyrics off his latest album), he has come out the other side a very humble and grateful musician.
At one point in the show he quelled all the media hype surrounding his split from Bon Jovi by asking the audience to give Bernie Taupin (** see below) a round of applause, which they did. As well as this he brought on a group of unknown musicians to sing the fan favourite Livin’ On A Prayer, a modest gesture that demonstrated his desire to pass the torch onto the next generation rather than to cash in on his own legacy.
It was moving to hear the crowd answering Sambora’s rendition of I’ll Be There For You with a seemingly endless chant of the songs coda. It clearly meant a lot to Sambora who earlier proclaimed that we are all in it together. After a rockin’ version of Wanted Dead or Alive, the show was concluded with a peculiar mash-up of the reggae classic Get Up, Stand Up which dramatically tranformed into These Days. The final bow was taken and the show was over. The bewildered fans comment was justified.
** NB Edited. Initially written as heard “applause for the amazing songs written with Jon”, however reviewing YouTube footage, it seems the nod of approval was for Bernie Taupin who wrote all those amazing songs with Elton John and co-wrote “Weathering The Storm”, which Sambora played after said comments. Apologies for the misheard wording.
Richie Sambora Photo Gallery
Photos: Shaun Neary
Brian McGovern Photo Gallery