Serious music fans love to debate.
The Beatles or the Stones? Which Prince album is best? Does Bon Jovi deserve to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Two weeks after being inducted into the Rock Hall, Bon Jovi established something Saturday at Xcel Energy Center that is not debatable: Frontman Jon Bon Jovi is one magnetic, energetic rock 'n' roll showman.
One thing, however, was debatable Saturday: Was it a bad sound mix, or did Jon Bon Jovi sound bad?
Hard to tell, quite honestly. The drums and especially the electric guitars were often louder than the lead singer's voice. Good thing that just everybody in the arena knew the words to nearly every song. Plus, that was helpful since Bon Jovi encouraged the fans to sing along on several hits, letting 16,000 folks be his backup singers, as he acknowledged when he introduced the band members.
Moreover, Bon Jovi did have plenty of help from his sidemen, with five guys — everyone but drummer Tico Torres — singing along with him for 2½ hours.
So, despite Bon Jovi insisting Saturday in the 2016 song "God Bless This Mess" that "My voice is shot/ I'm going gray/ these muscles all ache," it was hard to tell if his voice was shot. At times, his voice sounded strained; he sounded flat on "Bad Medicine" (or was it the bad sound?) and oftentimes he left the high notes to the fans.
When the group did a two-song acoustic set, Bon Jovi's voice sounded somewhere between serviceable and soulful, though it's clear the years have taken a toll on his pipes.
So, too, on his hair. Indeed, it's gray, as the lyrics described. But still abundant. And stylish.
Bon Jovi, 56, has been blessed with arguably the best and most enduring combination of hair, derrière and smile in contemporary rock history. Not to mention those blue eyes.
To be sure, the big hair is gone. The derrière still elicits remarks from the women at Bon Jovi concerts, especially the thousands behind the stage with a consistent view of his behind. And then there's that million-dollar dimpled smile. He emanates such infectious joy that it's hard not to like him.
Of course, there's the energy. Working on a small stage devoid of props, runways and big-screen video, the singer wasn't as kinetic as he used to be. But he was active.
On Saturday, the enthusiastic frontman had more hand and arm gestures than Neil Diamond. He must have punched his hands in the air more than Manny Pacquiao at a shadowboxing session. He must have raised his hands and wiggled them more than your grandma's favorite aerobics instructor.
Bon Jovi seemed to be having so much fun that he did little dances between songs when the spotlights weren't necessarily shining on him. He even praised the crowd as the best on this leg of the tour. "St. Paul, you did better than New Jersey tonight," said the pride of Jersey. "And I ain't lying."
Playing at the X a mere 13 months after its last appearance, the big-selling band offered a set list that was heavy on 21st century tunes that were not what led to the Rock Hall. Rather it was the anthems with clichéd lyrics like the dramatic "Wanted: Dead or Alive" and the buoyant "Livin' on a Prayer" that hit home with hall of fame voters and fans at the X.
The singer was in such good spirits that he added little wrinkles, introducing "Lay Your Hands on Me" with a nod to Prince by saying "My brothers and sisters, we're gathered here to get through this thing called life."
And, after some moves like Jagger, he broke into the Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" in the middle of "Keep the Faith." Because "charms like Bon Jovi" is what helped get the band into the Rock Hall of Fame.