Regardless of whether you actually dig Richie Sambora's particular breed of rock or not, the man can put on a show and he sure as hell can play.
I was sceptical at first, filling pages of my note pad with wry observations on the obviously ageing crowd (yes, I included myself in those cruel jibes) but once Sambora hit the stage, I gave myself over to his bluesy rocking good times and was pretty damn well entertained. The support was scratched so it was just Richie and the band (Australian Orianthi backed Sambora up with her incredible six string skills and a hairstyle that was to die for).
Article continues below...
Richie actually looked a tad like Joe Dirt but as the Hendrix-esque opener faded away, I was willing to forgive a dodgy hair-cut or three. Years of touring in Bon Jovi has obviously honed Sambora's audience interactions and he was definitely at ease in The Tivoli's intimate embrace.
He busted out Every Road Leads Home To You from Aftermath of the Lowdown (2012) and the gently swaying crowd were delighted; he bent those strings and riffed those riffs, all the while joking about his ego, black-outs and his love for Australia. Taking a Chance on the Wind was given a good outing and at times some of the tunes almost dipped in to Country and/or Western stylings which I didn't enjoy at all. Richie must have sensed my pain because he slipped into a bit of Bridge Over Troubled Waters before upping my pain ante with I'll Be There For You. A lot of mobile phones were waved and couples snuggled closer to each other. Nice.
There was audience participation and the crowd sang back the choruses. Richie even threw in an INXS cover (Don't Change) which was a delight. He may (or may not) have been off his tits. Regardless, his lead work was in fine form - he even laid down a quick rendition of Happy Birthday for an utterly charmed audience member. At times the music almost took a Dylan-esque turn before the raunchy (and roaming) Sugar Daddy got the crowd swaying, bobbing, whistling and whooping along as Sambora and Orianthi busted out some lovely twin guitar soloing.
Throw in Weathering the Storm and These Days and you've got a riot on your hands, mister. Or at the very least you get a very happy crowd. Suddenly it was Livin' On A Prayer in a hilarious mash-up with Midnight Oil's Beds Are Burning and then it was all over and we were all a bit sad.
Luckily he came back with a double necked guitar for a little acoustic number (The Answer) which he warned he might screw up a bit (he did but everyone laughed and forgave him instantly). Then we experienced his pain via Seven Years Gone before everyone came back on stage for a massive rendition of Voodoo Chile and that Punjabi monster Dead Or Alive. Respect to The Sambora - he may not be my favourite but he's certainly alright by me.