Jon Bon Jovi can still entertain

Posted: October 19, 2013 at 1:09 a.m.

Why would Bon Jovi call its top-grossing tour “Because We Can?”

Because the rockers are capable of many things, they proved to a sell-out crowd of 15,815 at North Little Rock’s Verizon Arena Friday night. Here’s a short list of what the band — named for and fronted by Jon Bon Jovi — can do:

• Count. “Has it really been 20 years?” the still boyish singer asked the audience he hasn’t visited since their big-hair days at Barton Coliseum back when tickets didn’t go as high as $159.50. It has.

• Age gracefully. Questioning the fans if they’ve heard of singer Justin Bieber, Jon joked in his New Jersey accent that he is “twice as old and twice as good looking” as the 19 year old. (Not quite. At 51, Jon is closer to three times Bieber’s age. Maybe he can’t count so well after all.)

• Endure. Not only has the band persevered these many years (sort of — longtime guitarist Richie Sambora parted ways with Bon Jovi this summer), the lively current lineup — Jon, drummer Tico Torres, guitarist Phil Xenidis, keyboardist David Bryan and bassist Hugh McDonald — performed many songs in a two-hour period with only one brief break before a substantial encore.

• Entertain. The group didn’t push much material from its latest album What About Now, released this year. Instead it focused on known crowd-pleasers — catchy relatively recent material (“It’s My Life,” “We Got it Going On” and “Have a Nice Day,” which all sound rather similar ) and old favorites (from “Runaway” and “You Give Love a Bad Name” to “Bad Medicine” and “Wanted Dead or Alive). Three video screens, motorized lights and a backdrop of moving metal towers added to the production.

• Engage. Leaving the main stage, Jon got up close and personal on a ramp out in the crowd, shaking hands and signing shirts.

• Borrow. Exhausting much of their catalog, Bon Jovi also dabbled in others’ oldies like “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Dancing in the Street,” “Taking Care of Business,” “Start Me Up,” and “Shout” in what Jon called the “jukebox” portion of the show.

• Localize. Jon not only sang some Conway Twitty, he gave a shout out to former President Bill Clinton, “wherever he is tonight.”

• Shake. A set of maracas (when Jon wasn’t playing guitar). And his toned tush in form-fitting jeans too.

Because he can.