13TH JUNE 2014
After 30 years with Bon Jovi as their chief songwriter and guitarist, Richie Sambora's decision to leave the band and to pursue his own musical projects full time must have been a brave and daunting move - but one that has certainly paid off. Sambora has already released three solo albums Stranger In This Town, Undiscovered Soul, Aftermath Of The Lowdown - all of which charted higher in the UK than in his homeland and judging by the crowd at the 02 Academy Islington he has certainly brought a strong following with him.
A smattering of Bon Jovi songs in the set list (Living On A Prayer, Lay Your Hands On Me) keeps the audience happy with familiar material but he still has plenty of original material to use. Stranger In This Town, Every Road Leads Home To You, Burn The Candle Down alongwith a few covers such as an awesome rendition of Hendrix'sVoodoo Child and A Song For You by Leon Russell. Sambora has managed to forge his own sound away from Bon Jovi with ease and it is surprising how different those well known songs sound when he plays them with his new band. He gives them more blues/rock feel at times then throws a curved ball performingGet Up, Stand Up which segues into These Days being performed in a Regga tempo for half of the song which certainly shows versatility.
Sambora's axe wielding is hugely distinctive and he's a strong writer adept at devising memorable riffs, hooks and the master of the epic chorus. Vocally he is much more raw and bluesy than Jon Bon
Jovi, which suits the direction he has taken his music. Hiding from the bright lights behind a cowboy hat, the New Jersey rocker seems hesitant about stepping out solo at first but grows more confident as the show continues, interacting with the audience and responding to their cries of 'Richie, Richie!' with a playful 'what? What?' and encouraging some banter about his relationship with Orianthi, his talented lead guitarist and all round rock chick!
Whether Sambora will return to Bon Jovi in the future is uncertain, but for now the guitar God is enjoying his new found success and musical freedom.