Bon Jovi blows the roof off Miller's birthday bash

Concert ReviewAugust 21, 2005Unknown source

By Josh Hertzog
Published Aug. 21, 2005 at 5:35 a.m.

Miller's old slogan "If you've got the time, Miller's got the beer" was reborn at the Big Brew Ha, Miller Brewery's 150th Anniversary celebration, Saturday at Miller Park. For anyone wondering when Miller Time would officially arrive, this was it.

The event kicked off at 1:30 p.m. with a big tailgate party in the parking lots, with bands on small stages providing the soundtrack. Meanwhile thousands of attendees threw back Miller products galore before entering the stadium at 5 p.m. to witness Bon Jovi, the Goo Goo Dolls and Robert Randolph & The Family Band.

Miller employees, however, were treated to a special half-hour set -- with favorites like "Closer to Free" and "Good Things" -- by the BoDeans at 4:30 p.m.

Before the bands took the stage, fans witnessed a sausage race and a retrospective of classic Miller television ads dating back decades to when the slogan was "Miller makes it right."

Robert Randolph & The Family Band, a jam band blending rock and a hint of twang, started off the concert at 6:30 p.m. The crowd didn't see this as an opportunity to listen to music, but to begin an extended happy hour, mostly missing out on Randolph's pedal steel guitar skills. A funky rendition of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" went unappreciated, despite proving very entertaining.

By now, the drinks had settled in and the crowd was alive and kicking and The Goo Goo Dolls took the stage in front of an upbeat crowd that had finally found its seats.

The Buffalo, N.Y., band played a jukebox of its classics -- "Iris," "Slide," "Here is Gone," "Name" and "Broadway" -- and ended with a recent cover of Supertramp's "Give a Little Bit," to the delight of the crowd.

In a pre-gig interview The Goo Goo Dolls praised Brew City.

"I love Milwaukee," said lead singer Johnny Rzeznik, as the group reminisced about their first Milwaukee performance at the now-razed Odd Rock Cafe in Bay View.

"I love it here, we have safe houses here," said bassist Robby Takac. "It's a great celebration."

The roof may have been closed, but it almost blew off as Bon Jovi took the stage at 9 p.m. Opening with "Living on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name," the crowd chanted the lyrics and took a turn towards frantic. Jon Bon Jovi strutted around with the microphone, and guitarist Richie Sambora sported the shades that caused the stadium to erupt into musical madness.

"It's My Life" followed, and then the lighters and arm swaying appeared when Sambora took the lead on "I'll Be There For You."

Playing the title track off of their new album, "Have a Nice Day," due out Sept. 20, Bon Jovi returned to the classic rock sound that made them famous.

After that, the band let up a bit, and ended a little less lively than they had started, and the crowd responded likewise.

"We've had a good time here, lotta fun," Sambora said before the gig. "It's nonchalant. We just walk in and get to be house band for the evening."

Bon Jovi is surely more than a house band, and the Big Brew Ha definitely left Harley's 100'th Anniversary celebration in the dust. One only had to talk to the fans to know that.

"Bon Jovi rocked the house," said Ryan Crandall of Janesville. "The first band was good, and the Goo Goo Dolls were great too."

"I thought it was excellent," said Jessica Schwulst of Menomonee Falls.

Kenosha's Jen Likes, Kim Nelson and Pat Harden each gave the birthday celebration a "10."