Keep The Faith: Bon Jovi? Not Quite, but Worth Seeing

By Brent Michael, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent

Venue: Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida


The close of Busch Gardens’ Food and Wine Festival Concert Series brought us four “tribute” bands – and hot, hot, hot weather in the mid-90s with no shade over the seats. Which meant many people, like myself, skipped the first two bands that went on at 2 and 4 p.m. – and that’s unfortunate, because judging by the quality of the bands I saw, they were probably very good. I saw the last two (See upcoming review of “The Purple Experience,”), starting with this one.

The band’s website advertises “frontman JBJ look alike and sound alike Chris Newman,” and I can agree with half of that – which is, to me, the important part. Newman does a great job of sounding like Jon, and having seen the original just a couple years ago, of capturing the mannerisms, but only in the most general sense would I call him a look alike. Look at the photos, would you agree?

Despite the finally but all-too slowly-cooling temperatures, crowd gave him a warm reception, and a walk out into the crowd by Chris (in the VIP section) allowed some very close photos and had some in the crowd screaming in joy. But the sound did most of the convincing for me, and the entire band did their part.

Of course, they played all the big hits, “Bad Medicine,” “Runaway,” “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” “Living on a Prayer,” but they threw in more obscure songs like “Hallelujah” and even “Twist and Shout.” All in all, a worthwhile experience!

Find more at: Keep The Faith


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Brent Michael


  1. We really appreciate your review about our show and maybe I am not 100% look a like but I do get it quite frequently in every day life. These photos, if I may so, are quite poor if this is the best you could get it makes me question the photographer’s ability. Everyone will get bad shots and I have had many shoot us with excellent results. It almost seems these were chosen to state your case. As for sounding like him thank you for the kind words, but not once did I get a vibe the crowd was cooling in fact based on the videos we posted on facebook I would say anything but cooling. To each their own. Btw I would be happy to share much better pictures from this show with you like and you may post them. It was our fans that brought these photos to my attention.

    • Frankly, I have to blame it on your publicist, since Busch Gardens tells me they set the restrictions on who is allowed to photograph with what – though Busch Gardens is inconsistent in their enforcement. As it was, I was not allowed the use of anything beyond a point and shoot; a better camera and better access (Busch is also weird about that, they assume a press pass must include admission to the park, but I already paid for that with my annual pass) and that makes them difficult to come by – and they only give them out once a year to any given publication! I’m hoping to make some better arrangements this year, but band publicists have a lot to say about it, so talk with yours! Both of us would like the best possible photos to use, and I can make betters photos with my pro equipment that focuses faster and has no shutter lag!

      The “slowly cooling crowd” was definitely NOT meant as a criticism of the band, only a comment about the weather; my apologies for any misunderstanding. (I’ve edited it to make that clearer). The article wasn’t meant as a critique at all, but you must realize that any tribute band is expected to be as close to the original as possible. Normally I would make no comment about a band member’s resemblance to anyone, but under the circumstances, it’s expected. It’s also a very subjective matter of opinion. People tell me regularly I look like Richard Gere or Peter Ustinov, but I don’t think so. Then again, my profession is not impersonating one of them, so it’s not important to me. No offense intended, if you can pass with other people, more power to you!

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