Review by Darren Seaton

In the Dublin review from yesterday I wrote “tonight was
brilliant, not perfect, not flawless” and if you’re looking a summary of tonight in Belfast, that pretty much does it!
Taking the stage at 8.30 with a pretty similar set list to the previous night, again opening with A Song For You and by the time we reached Lay Your Hands On Me the crowd were sparked into massive sing a long mode!
Tonight probably wasn’t as tight as Dublin, but as I said in the previous review rock n roll is supposed to be flowing and entertaining, not sterile and over produced!
While the set was broadly the same, there were more extended solos and jamming on some songs, there were also occasions where the set list basically went out the window, none more so than when the opening bars of Seven Years Gone started and Richie called a halt, had a quick word with the band then spoke to the crowd about what the song meant to him, and that he’d also had another song come into his head that day that related well, there was then a brief gap while they tried to work out if the band knew it etc, then in typical Sambora humour he asked the crowd what they wanted to hear, queue hundreds of voices all shouting at once before a laughing Sambora announces “you know what I’m just gonna play the shit I wanna hear” before taking on a cover version of Kite by U2.
Sambora’s banter with the crowd was very entertaining, his cheekily toned “And you thought I was just a guitar player” was hilarious, writing it down just doesn’t do it justice!
At times tonight Richie reminds me of Gary Moore, improvising here and there, extending where the emotion takes him and getting lost in his own music before leading the band back into wherever they were originally.
His partner in crime, Orianthi, riffs, solos on command, sings her heart out and shows what an amazing talent she is, maybe at some point we’ll get a solo show from her too, now that would be something!
The main set ends with I’ll Be There For You, cue massive sing a long, wonderfully bluesy emotional extended solos, and as the band leaves the stage, some idiot in the Ulster Hall turns the lights on and people on the balcony start leaving…..ah hello, have you been to a rock show before?
As the lights dim again and the band return to the stage, Richie brings out the five local support artists to join him on stage for a cover of Lean On Me, each getting their turn to sing.
Encores continue with Wanted Dead or Alive, again showing the fluidity of a Sambora show, as the song closes it transforms into a cover of Midnight Rider by The Allman Brothers Band. At this point based on Dublin’s set list I’m guessing Living on a Prayer is coming next, so was Orianthi apparently as she came out on stage with an acoustic guitar, only for the band to start jamming the reggae beats that take us into Get Up Stand Up and eventually the Jovi classic, These Days, so off she goes for a quick guitar switch.
Set List? Who needs a set list when you can call the songs as you feel! The band leave the stage once more, and while the lights stay off, again people get up to leave…..the band return and again
Sambora is issuing instructions to the rest of the band, Prayer starts acoustic, Orianthi on lead vocals, my friend from England who flew over for the show informs me she wasn’t singing it on the shows at the start of the tour on the mainland, Richie sings alternate verses with her and as we reach the mid solo section, a quick change of guitar and we suddenly have the full rocked up version of Prayer blasting out across the venue, a complete change to the version heard the night previously!
And so 2hrs 15mins since it began, it was over, Richie promising he would return and expressing his gratitude for the love shown by the crowd tonight, something he then went on to twitter only minutes later to reiterate!

It's been 21 years since Richie had graced the stage in Belfast, last time was the Kings Hall on the Keep The Faith tour, but tonight he seemed extremely happy to be back, and the Belfast crowd responded in kind.
I look forward to seeing where this journey continues, new album to come hopefully a new tour. Its always great to see someone loving what they’re doing and these past two nights have been a joy to watch someone great at their craft have the space to explore it with their own band! Long may that continue I say!

Authors: Jonny

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