Richie Sambora is a virgin, or so the ex and possibly future Bon Jovi guitarist insisted... Or at least a virgin solo performer in Glasgow and indeed Scotland anyway! Cut loose from his long standing position to the side of a certain Jon Bon Jovi, the talented fret-worker and hugely underrated singer took the chance to air a host of solo cuts, some favourite cover versions and a few fan favourites from his "other band". All making for a show that the, as packed as I've seen it, ABC thoroughly lapped up, even if there were a few signs of self indulgence in this tour ending show.
Sporting a trademark denim waistcoat and narrow brimmed hat Sambora strode confidently onstage to a deafening roar, as well as some high pitched swoon inducing screams, before indicating the tone for much of the night through an understated take on the Leon Russell track "A Song For You". Arms wide and vocals slowly coming to life, within seconds Richie had the whole room in his hands and the audience in his heart, a winning performance already assured. "Burn The Candle Down" saw the first of seven visits to the 2012 solo disc Aftermath Of The Lowdown, also showcasing the often underused guitar talents the man himself possesses. Backed ably by one time Michael Jackson and Alice Cooper side woman Orianthi, if any one thing was a little surprising in this performance, it was the amount of muso moments and expansive solos from a man better known for hammering out stadium sized hits. "Lay Your Hands On Me" is one such chart bothering song and the reception it received left no doubt of its popularity with the Sambora faithful, although to be fair the simply marvellous debut solo cut "Stranger In This Town" (my own favourite Richie moment) was met with the same level of fervour. "Nowadays" took an energetic step away from the Bluesy attack employed so far, although the manner in which Richie morphed a wonderful, impromptu cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" into "Weathering The Storm", was a genuine, reserved, joy.
Orianthi was allowed a deserved moment in the sun, her "You Don't Wanna Know" proving that the sultry hair n' hat covered lady was as equally adept at raising her voice, as she was wringing the neck of her guitar. The latter skill illustrated to stunning effect as she and Richie traded solos against each other during "Sugar Daddy". "Learning How To Fly With A Broken Wing" evolved into a kicking cover of Cream's "Crossroads", before Richie took the time to introduce the tribute to his father, "Seven Years Gone", in truly touching fashion. Then Orianthi, who really did dispell the myth that women can't Rock, appeared mandolin in hand for the captivatingly seat of the pants Willie DeVille number, "Storybook Love", before the second Bon Jovi track "I'll Be There For You" closed the main set in shuddering style, Hevay Metal Kids guitarist Cosmo joining the throng on stage and ripping out one of the best solos of the night, before duelling with both Richie and Orianthi in turn.
"The Answer" kicked off a four song encore in beautiful understated style, an equally captivating one-man take on the eponymous song from Bad Company a welcome surprise, as it hinted at and then broke completely into the Jovi classic "Wanted Dead Or Alive", which was treated as the crowd favourite it has now been for many years. However over extending the intro and the outro to the song highlighted one of the very few weaknesses in tonight's show, Richie once too often wandering a little aimlessly at a song's conclusion and somewhat blunting the crowd reaction to performances otherwise lapped up eagerly; while his weakness for over indulging in lengthy vocal workouts also over egged some of the songs in a less than vital fashion - we might have squeezed in the omitted "Livin' On A Prayer", which was performed on most other dates on the tour, had less time been wasted in this direction. A reggaefied intro to the night's closing number was a surprise, the mid-period Bon Jovi staple, "These Days", ensuring the set would close on yet another high provided by Richie and his tremendously talented band across an extremely varied set.
Often hidden in the lengthy, and some would suggest overrated, shadow of his long term bandmate, it was extremely satisfying to see Glasgow turn out in such numbers for a guitarist from one of the world's biggest bands, as he ventured forth on his own terms. That faith was repaid in spades and on this evidence the future looks very bright indeed for Richie Sambora, and his adoring fans.