Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi > My show reviews > MAY 17 & 18, 2018 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

My show reviews

MAY 17 & 18, 2018 - Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Warning: If I ever find out that the pictures displayed on this page end up on someone's website without my consent, or if some people try to remove the watermarks and try to resell these pictures, they will have to provide some good explanations. I will then have to remove my pictures and other visitors of my website will be deprived of them!

The two highest steps of the podium


Presales and anticipation of shows
The postponement of shows in Montreal!!
The show in Ottawa
Day 1 - The VIP package
My meeting with Phil X!
Why a backstage visit?
Setlist of May 17, 2018
Jon sees our banner!!
Day 2 - Live the front row at the end of the tour
The unexpected pre-show!
Setlist of May 18, 2018
Jon steals something from Phil X!
Jon fools us after Keep The Faith!
Magical moment during Who Says You Can't Go Home
Jon sings to me a little part of New Year's Day
The surprise encores
My unexpected gifts at the end of the show

Presales and anticipation for the shows

After waiting to see dates for Bon Jovi shows in Montreal for more than four years, finally, in early January 2018, we happily saw Montreal among the cities visited by the band! The fan club ticket presale for the show originally scheduled for April 4, 2018 at the Bell Centre in Montreal was January 16, 2018.

On January 15, I had to go to the Canadian Space Agency super early in the morning because of operations with an astronaut on the International Space Station (they are on Greenwich Mean Time, so when operations need to be done on an astronaut after waking up in the morning, it's quite early in Quebec!!). Still a little sleepy, I was driving on Highway 30 East and I saw an electronic sign turn red suddenly in my rearview mirror. I could not help but try to see what this sign was showing. I was really surprised when I saw the message "Montreal Loves (represented by a red heart) Bon Jovi" on the red background! I turned briefly my head to see if I had hallucinated in my rearview mirror! Well no! It was true! I then cracked up a big smile! This is exactly what I needed to give me enough energy to get through my long day that was just starting! The sign displayed this ad for a week, alternating with other ads. I don't know who paid for it, but it was a nice thought for the Bon Jovi fans living on the South Shore of Montreal, to say the least!!

The fan club had again changed the way tickets were put on sale. I was so scared that they would be on sale directly on Evenko's website which does not have a good reputation during ticket sales for popular shows! But no, my fear dissipated when I saw that the tickets for some shows, including Montreal, were on sale through another site (the vast majority of cities used Ticketmaster for fan club tickets).

Of course, not knowing how the sale would occur and what would be the procedure for buying tickets on this new site, I didn't sleep well the night before the presale. Sandra and I had established a strategy that we would discuss again a few minutes before the start of the presale. The next morning, I stayed at home to do this, I settled myself with a good old wired internet connection and I patiently waited until 10ham arrived! I was in constant communication through Messenger with Sandra to discuss our strategy again. A few minutes before the time, Sandra called me to be able to coordinate the purchase of our tickets by talking directly on the phone. I was starting to be really nervous: despite my woolen sweater and my two pairs of socks, I was shivering in the house, teeth chattering included! Since the Montreal shows are usually sold very quickly, even for VIP packages, Sandra and I opted to buy a VIP package on the floor, even though they were really expensive this time!

At 10ham sharp, the buttons for the presale became available and I jumped on the list of VIP packages. Without really checking in which row the tickets were, I selected a category that seemed adequate to me. I even had the chance to choose my seats in the row (at that price, at least, they gave us a small chart with the free seats and we could click on those we wanted)! I told Sandra that I had tickets in row E, dead center. She had tickets a little further, so we decided to go with the ones I had in my shopping cart.

When I wanted to confirm the transaction with my credit card, the website where the tickets were sold warned me that there was a problem with my credit card... What?! A little panicked, I rechecked all the details and they were accurate. That's when my heart started to beat faster. What was happening? I had limited time to buy my tickets and the timer was going down quickly! Fortunately, I had another credit card at my disposal, but it didn't have a sufficient limit to buy the pair of tickets. I still tried, but I received the same kind of error... In retrying with my first credit card, the timer reached zero and I lost my tickets! Oh no!!!! Panicking, I went back to the ticket purchase page and whew, the same tickets were still available! Sandra was already checking for other tickets just in case I wouldn't get them back. Fortunately, I was able to select them again! This time, I asked Sandra for her credit card information, because obviously I was not able to buy with mine! (I never thought I had a third card with a pretty big limit that might have worked...) Fortunately for us, Sandra's card worked! I almost cried when I saw that my timer had reached zero previously and I shed a tear when she told me she had received the confirmation email! What a relief! It was 10h11am. I also wanted to cry by looking at the price we paid for the pair of tickets! I felt so guilty of spending so much on a VIP package for Bon Jovi, especially for tickets in the fifth row!! No logical reasoning can explain why a person would pay so much for a VIP package, but when it comes to buying tickets for Bon Jovi, both Sandra and I panic big time, and sometimes it makes us do crazy things like the one we made that morning!

We then tried to buy tickets for the April 7, 2018 show in Newark, New Jersey. After ending my call with Sandra, I saw that I had received an email from the bank associated with my credit card that said to call them back to confirm the transaction that I had tried to complete previously. OK, congratulations Mrs. Bank, I tried to make the transaction 30 minutes ago and you send me an email 20 minutes later?! Buying tickets is real time! Frustrated, I immediately called the bank of my credit card to confirm that I was the one who had tried to make the transaction, half an hour earlier. I then called customer service to find out what had happened. I was told that the transaction was denied because it was attempted on a ticket sale website. Yeah hello, I go crazy from time to time to buy very expensive Bon Jovi tickets. I have been a customer for that credit card for more than 10 years, they should know it by now, shouldn't they?! I tried, unsuccessfully, to make them understand that this website was legitimate and that if I ever make a transaction from the same website in the future, they were better to let it through. Strangely, the customer service clerk told me that it was impossible to put websites on the authorized "white list" in advance... Weird...

The next morning, January 17, when I got up, I still had a hard time getting into my head that I had paid so much for tickets in the fifth row! Especially because the VIP packages that were that expensive were supposed to be in the second row. I was mad by the fact that since tickets are selling well in Montreal, they had boosted the prices in the subsequent rows to take advantage of us, even if we were going to have the same privileges as the people in the second row! During the afternoon, a friend of mine sent me a message asking if we were in the second row with our row E, because several people said that the front row was row D. WHAT??!!

After finding a more sophisticated seating chart, Sandra and I well saw that the front row seemed to be row D. I asked another friend who had paid a VIP package in row D to know if she thought row D was the front row. Without the shadow of a doubt, she confirmed the information! What?! When I got back home that evening, I looked again at the fan club tickets presale website and indeed, there was a sentence written in red that said that in Montreal, the front row was row D:

First row was row D at the Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17 and 18, 2018)

So we were really distracted, Sandra and I, for not seeing it!! That's what the panic of buying tickets can cause us!!

I was now very relieved and was telling myself that I would be in the second row dead center at a Bon Jovi show in Montreal, with a VIP package! I had never had tickets so close in Montreal! It didn't change the fact that I paid a lot for my ticket, but hey, that's a detail! At least several things were included in the package, as described below:

A week after the announcement of the first dates of the 2018 tour, after the public ticket sale for the Montreal show went very good, an additional show was announced for April 5! In fact, nobody was really surprised, because some smart people had seen on the same detailed seating chart as the one from the previous week that 2 dates were written, that are April 4 and 5, 2018! (Usually, I'm the first to see this kind of details, but this time, I hadn't noticed!) So we were just waiting to know when the April 5 show would be announced and especially, when the fan club presale would take place! I was hoping that I wouldn't be notified at the last minute, as for the show on February 14, 2013 when we had received a 30-minute notice!

When I received, on the morning of January 22, the confirmation email for the additional show on April 5 that mentioned that the fan club presale would be Tuesday, January 23, I wondered why I had put myself in such a state of mind for me to almost not sleep the day before!! Everything turned out fine; we had crappy weather on January 23 in the morning with a good amount of freezing rain! So I decided not to put my life or my youngest boy's life, Xavier, at risk so we stayed home. I bring him to the Canadian Space Agency's daycare center every day. Martin did the same, since the roads were not beautiful outside; anyway, we made the right decision not to go out on the roads, because the schools in our area and even the daycare (which closes only in extremely exceptional circumstances) didn't open their doors that day!!

Therefore I could settle down with a wired connection from home again. Sandra and I have agreed on a new strategy, to save some money for this additional show! We were going to try to get acceptable tickets in the first rows of the floor without a VIP package. I was not too confident that we would have good tickets and it was stressing me out a lot, especially after buying tickets in the second row for April 4 and in the third row in New Jersey! I didn't want to end up in the tenth row!!

Two minutes before 10ham, Sandra called me and I was more nervous than ever! My cat just wanted some attention, my children were in another room nearby and they are afraid of the cat and the cat is afraid of them. I still decided to throw the cat outside the room where I was and I closed the door behind him! Too bad, he must get used to it! haha

I started refreshing the ticket sale page shortly before 10ham. At some point, I reloaded the page and I saw text turn into a button on the page. Not quite realizing what had just happened, I lost no time. I didn't even think of telling Sandra that the sale button was available; I had already clicked on it, chose the option to buy two tickets and selected the option of the best available tickets. My brain was going at full speed, I finally told Sandra that I was in the system (when I was clicking on the "Best tickets available" button). She already knew it anyway, but I think she was taken by surprise when I told her that I was already clicking to get my tickets!

After clicking, I saw a pair of tickets on my screen.

— Ah, I have fourth row, almost in the center! I said to Sandra.
— Go, buy them, I have tickets in the sixth row...

I then started completing the steps to finalize the transaction and obviously, my f****** credit card refused the transaction again!!! Fortunately, the amount was much much much lower than the previous week, so I didn't panic and I tried my other credit card with which I had bought the New Jersey tickets (which I had emptied a few days before to ensure that I had my full limit)! This time, it worked! Yippie!

I left my computer screen at the ticket confirmation on the presale website and went to my email inbox to see if I had received my purchase confirmation; the latter had arrived at 10h02am. When I opened the email, the switch went on in my head about the "fourth row"... I think my heart stopped when I saw "Row D".

— We are not in the fourth row... I said to Sandra, breathless.
— Oh no?!

I could see in her voice that she was worried.

— No, I have row D! We will be front row, almost dead center!!!
— Are you serious, Marie?!
— This is what is written in my email!

She went to see the confirmation that I had forwarded to her. I don't think I've heard Sandra react after the fact like that in the past, but she ended up bursting a big "WOOHOO". I couldn't believe it, I just had paid a LOT much cheaper for front row tickets... in Montreal...

I found myself in a strange state of mind. It's as if I wasn't realizing it.

— Sandra, read me what is written in the confirmation email, I'm not sure I read correctly.
— Row D, seats 16 and 17, for April 5 in Montreal... Yes, that's it... she said super calmly.
— Row D. Row D. This is front row, right?!
— Yes. The front row is row D in Montreal. We saw it. That's right, she said even more calmly.

Sandra was strangely very calm and collected, while I was going crazy in my mind.

— I think I didn't understand well. Where are our tickets?!
— Row D, seats 16 and 17. Yes, front row, Marie...

And I made her repeat the email several times like this and the more she was repeating it, the more we were realizing that we would be front row, without a VIP package and without breaking the bank this time! I was switching between my email confirmation to the ticket presale website without stopping, I made printscreens to have proof that we would be front row. I had a hard time believing it, honestly!

We talked for a while and at around 10h30am, I told Sandra that we could talk all day like this, but it was going in circles a little! My face was flushed with the joy of having had such good tickets without a VIP package! When I finally got out of the room where I was, I was sure Martin had heard everything from our conversation, but it seems like no.

— So?
— Uh... front row... I said with a big grin on my face.
— How much did you pay for that??!!
— $550CAN each!
— Are you kidding me? Just that? After what you paid for the previous day??!!
— It seems so, yes! HAHA!

I was so happy; I was so lucky! There were probably only a few tickets in the first row without a VIP package and I was lucky enough to buy two!

I called the bank associated with my credit card a second time. The customer service clerk explained to me with many details that categorically refusing any transation related to ticket purchases is part of their business rules. I made my point that it didn't make any sense, that I had called the previous week, that I had not received any text message, email or call from them this time to verify if the transaction was legitimate or not, etc. The guy was puzzled as to why I had not been contacted because I had enabled all the options for them to contact me. I mentioned to him that for the purchase of tickets, I cannot wait 40 minutes for them to get their act together and contact me to validate the transaction! Finally, after making my point for several long minutes, I mentioned that anyway, the story ended well, because I had used another credit card for my Bon Jovi front row tickets in Montreal, that I was very happy and that I was extremely not happy with the way I had been treated with them!

I cannot describe the feeling that inhabited me all day after that. The next morning, I had the impression that I had dreamed this scenario that had seemed so perfect! Phew! I had already experienced strong emotions when buying tickets, but not as late as that! And having front row tickets, even though I paid a lot of money, it allowed me to be at peace with the price I had paid for the VIP package and the second row tickets for the April 4 show!

I couldn't help but think that we had received "help" for being so lucky to buy such good tickets for the shows in Montreal. Sandra wrote to me about it to tell me that we had gotten them because we deserved it. I don't know if we deserved all of this more than other people, but hey, I like to believe that our dads were there, sitting on their clouds, to make us happy during the ticket sale! ;)

It still took me a few days to realize that with our tickets for April 5, 2018, I would see 3 Bon Jovi shows in 4 nights (with the New Jersey show on the following weekend). When I was younger, I wanted to do a whole tour with Bon Jovi. I was going to be able to know what it is like to do a small part of it! And I was really looking forward to being able to experience the Montreal crowd and the New Jersey crowd in the same week!

A few days before the show on April 4, I started making my usual nightmares about Bon Jovi. The worst was the night I dreamed that my family and I had gone for Easter in a cottage without technology (no TV, no computers, cellular phones didn't work, etc.). So we had to exclusively rely on our memory to know what day it was. We had decided to stay longer than the Easter's four-day weekend. One morning, I got up and told Martin that we had to go back home because that night, Bon Jovi was doing the first show. When we got back, I realized that we were April 5!! Oh no! I had missed the show on April 4 with my VIP package!!! I was so sad, I was crying like a baby. When I saw Sandra for our show on April 5, I asked her if she had come the previous night. She replied, in a very normal tone: "Of course, of course, I was there, where were you?!" I told myself that she could have called me to tell me! The cottage had no technology available, but at that point in my dream, cellular phones would have worked if she had cared to call me... Let's say that I was really disappointed for missing a show in Montreal!! AND I WOKE UP!! What a relief! My god!

Sandra and I got the idea (ok, I got the idea first!) to make a banner together to catch Jon's attention, since we would be very close to the stage. Nothing less than a banner made on a big flashy pink cardboard to get his attention! However, we had a hard time agreeing on the message to write on it! At first, I wanted to write a long text to say that Sandra and I, together, represented 25 + 35 years of passion for Bon Jovi (60 years combined!), 13 years of friendship because of Bon Jovi, etc. Sandra wanted to go for a shorter catchy sentence. But what?! A few days before the first show in Montreal, she counted the number of shows she had seen, that is 31 in all (I was at 25 shows, 16 with her). I then realized that by putting both numbers together, it summed up to 56 shows, the Jon's exact age at that time (yes yes, I'm always calculating like that, I cannot help it)!! What were the chances of that happening? We laughed hard when we realized all this! We finally agreed on a certain catchy sentence, by repeating some of the Who Says You Can't Go Home lyrics, the song during which Jon often invited in the past girls to go on stage to sing with him.

Marie-Hélène Cyr and Sandra Coussa's banner for the Bon Jovi shows in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17 and 18, 2018)

Montreal shows getting postponed the same morning as the first show

In the weeks leading up to the April 4 and 5 shows in Montreal, Martin was afflicted with mastoiditis. At first, we had to get up every two hours in the night so that I could give him drops in the affected ear (at the time, it was a simple acute otitis). I had thus accumulated a big debt of sleep and I was afflicted by a big cold and a good loss of voice the week before the shows! During the week of April 2, Martin was still on intravenous antibiotics that I administered him at home. With his catheter, he could not soak his forearm in water, making it hard for him to wash the dishes, give the bath to our children, take showers, etc. So I had to think, in advance, of a strategy to do the tasks that Martin couldn't do during the two nights I was going to be at the Bell Centre. It would also have been necessary for me to come back home early after the shows to rinse Martin's vein with a saline solution (note: I'm not in the health domain, it was all new for me!!).

In short, I'm telling all of this to say that in the morning of April 4, instead of a good flow of adrenaline that usually runs through my veins when I wake up, I rather felt a general fatigue, a little as if someone had hit me hard with a bar in the middle of my back. I had almost no voice anymore either! I really wondered if I really had a show that night, because I didn't feel like I was ready to go to the Bell Centre!

It's by dragging my feet that I prepared the children for school and daycare and that I left to drop Xavier at the daycare in the pouring rain. When I arrived at around 8ham, I saw that Maryse (yes yes, the same Maryse as in the last twelve years!) had sent a link on Messenger to an Evenko post. I couldn't help but click on the link before getting out of the car. It's with stupor that I realized that Bon Jovi had postponed the April 4 and 5 shows to May 17 and 18, 2018 because of flu epidemic... My heart was pounding in my chest, it was the first time they were cancelling a show in Montreal! But there was a part of me that was relieved by the news! I was clearly not in shape for this marathon of shows and now life was giving me room to breath so I could rest a little more! I was also feeling very guilty to be relieved from not having a concert that night! What kind of a fan was I to be happy not to have a show that night?! I quickly sent a small text message to Martin to tell him the news, to let him know before I went back home.

At the daycare, some educators knew that I was going to see Bon Jovi and asked if I was looking forward to it. I was not in my right state of mind; it's with a hint of frustration that I told them that the shows had just been postponed! When I got home, Martin, who was still on sick leave, had put the TV at the channel that was airing the Salut Bonjour show to see what was going on with Bon Jovi. I still had a hard time believing the news, because one of my reflexes was to tell myself that it was an April Fool's joke, even though we were on April 4 and not three days earlier! In addition, the Bon Jovi website had still not posted any news in that sense (by the way, it was only around noon that the news appeared on this website, but Twitter had announced it at around 5ham). Nothing happened for nothing, I told myself that Montreal would be the last city of the tour; it comforted me, because I love the energy of a tour end. The band members are always in a good mood!

I started trying to contact Sandra who had taken a day's vacation to prepare for the show that night: I sent multiple messages on Messenger, many text messages on her cellular phone, I even tried to call at around 9ham, without success. I really couldn't wait for her to wake up and take her cellular phone in her hands to see that I was desperately trying to contact her! When she saw all my messages, we called each other and talked for over an hour. We didn't know if our trip to New Jersey three days later would take place or not; the flu could take long to heal!! I already knew in advance that if we went to New Jersey three days later, I had to kiss my dream of "going on tour" with the band goodbye, because with shows given in May 2018, I wouldn't see three shows in four nights!

I also learned from several fans that all band members had been seen on April 3 in the afternoon and evening. Supposedly, none of them had seemed sick! Some fans even went to their hotel on the morning of April 4 and saw them leaving at around 1hpm with their luggage. That's when the fans realized that they had postponed the shows for real, but nobody really believed the official reason, because all the band members seemed in great shape according to these fans! In any case, we will never know the real story behind all this confusion, but several rumors have circulated about the postponement. The most plausible in my opinion, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, is that it is easy to evoke a flu epidemic to postpone shows when a promoter needs to buy time to sell the tickets for the second night (for which the show was far from being sold out!!). The worst in all this is about all the fans who came from outside Montreal and found themselves without a show with flights to reschedule, hotels to book for the month of May, logistics to come back a month later, etc.

Several people told me a few days after the shows got postponed to mid-May that they had contacted Jon directly to tell him that Marie-Hélène Cyr was sick and had to take care of her husband who was sick and that he had decided to postpone the shows to maximize the chances that I would be in a better shape and that I could enjoy them more! I found them all so adorable, even if it were just not true! Thanks anyway for making me feel a lot better about what I was living at this time, I appreciate it a lot!

Before continuing, I want to make something clear: I do not believe in astrology and the horoscopes of the various astrological signs in the newspapers. However, I stumbled upon this under my astrological sign in our local newspaper on April 4, 2018, the day the shows in Montreal got postponed: "You will go through the whole range of emotions. Your family and friends will be there to help you in a complex situation at home. Things should clear up quickly for you." Huh?! Wow, it was such a coincidence to see that as my horoscope of the week! We had asked my parents-in-law to come help Martin on the weekend of April 7 while I was going to be in New Jersey and I was really experiencing the full range of possible emotions! As I said, I do not believe more in astrology, but it was quite a coincidence!!

In short, the countdown was thus set back to six weeks before seeing Bon Jovi in Montreal again! Fortunately, I was able to see the show in New Jersey a few days later, but I also had to temporarily kiss my dream of going on tour with Bon Jovi goodbye and see three shows in four nights! There are bereavements that are easier to overcome than others and this one was easy with my personal and family-related situation at the time!

The show in Ottawa

Two weeks before the shows on May 17 and 18, 2018 at the Bell Centre, one evening, Maryse sent me a message telling me that floor tickets for the Ottawa show on May 7 were 99$! She had just bought tickets for herself and her coworkers! It was surely tempting at that price, especially since there were tickets in the first ten rows! Fifteen minutes later, Sandra sent me a message asking if I wanted to go to Ottawa, because she was really considering it!

On a purely emotional side, I would have gone; Ottawa is the closest destination after Montreal! Especially at that price, it was a real bargain! However, with my new position as mission manager for some of the scientific experiments aboard the International Space Station at the office, I am called to be on consoles during operations with an astronaut and we had operations on the morning of May 7. I had to arrive at the office at 3h30am in the morning, which meant that I had to get up at 2h30am... If I had made the decision to go, I would have practically not slept in 24 hours with two young children at home the next morning who would have tested my patience with the little amount of sleep I would have gotten! So I took the heartbreaking decision to pass my turn! (Well yes, go ahead, treat me as a "not big enough fan"!!) I still encouraged Sandra to go! She didn't hesitate too much, she bought a ticket in the fifth row, the first on the edge of the row on the right, where Jon passes to go to the B stage (platform) during Amen and Bed Of Roses! I would have done the same thing!

What was even more heartbreaking is that the day before the show in Ottawa, the seat next to the one Sandra had bought was still available! But hey, the head took over the heart and I didn't changed my mind! My main goal was to stay physically in shape for the marathon that was waiting for me in Montreal the following week!

To make myself feel better about my decision not to go to Ottawa, I had asked Sandra to call me during some songs. At first, I didn't know which one(s). Bed Of Roses was tempting, but in a sense, Jon was returning to the main stage during that song and I told myself that I would just hear screaming. And she couldn't call me during Livin' On A Prayer, because she always calls her mother, no matter where she is and what time it is! I finally decided to go with the songs from the This House Is Not For Sale album, except the song with the same title that is played first. I still wanted her to fully enjoy the beginning of the show.

On the evening of May 7, I arranged to finish my evening routine at 8h30pm, the time the show started in Ottawa, because I didn't know when Sandra would call me during the evening! As a joke, I wrote to Sandra that it was the first time I would listen to a live show through a cellular phone while I was in my pajamas in my living room! I was pretty excited to receive calls. When? Which song? Too much anticipation!! And then, at 9hpm sharp, my cellular phone rang; it was Sandra. When I answered, I immediately recognized Roller Coaster! I told myself that I'd really like to hear it in Montreal, but I'd at least have heard it from a distance! The sound was really not what I expected. It sounded like Sandra was listening to the show with her cellular phone immersed in water!! The sound was probably so loud in Ottawa that the cellular phone was lowering it so as not to saturate. In short, I could hear Jon's voice very faint and I could hardly distinguish the music! At one point, I thought I heard Sandra sing at the top of her lungs! She finally hung up at the end of the song. I wrote to her at the end of the song to find out if she was singing and she said yes!

Then, I started looking at the setlists of recent days and I saw that they didn't play many songs from the new album! I quickly sent a text message to Sandra to ask her to call me during Amen. It was the perfect song; she would have the latitude to touch Jon when he would head to the platform in the stands and she would have time to recover from her emotions a little bit before the beginning of the song! In addition, its location in the setlist is predictable! At around 9h35pm, my cellular phone rang again. When I answered the call, I was a little disappointed; the sound was even worse than during Roller Coaster! I could barely hear Jon sing, I had a hard time recognizing the song! It's as if Sandra was somewhere windy and Jon was very far away! Anyway, I still listened to the whole song, telling myself that it was still quite special to hear a live show like that from home while my Jovi buddy was in Ottawa and was doing all of this for me! I felt pretty lucky to have her, this dear Sandra, in my life, she who was ready to sacrifice some quiet time in show to please me! I love her!

I went to bed shortly after writing to Sandra that if she heard another song from the new album, she could record a little bit of it for me to watch it later. I was simply exhausted from my day, I had a hard time keeping my eyes open!

The next morning, I saw that Sandra had sent me seven different text messages to tell me that she had touched Jon very well twice for me and for her (she is so nice!!), she had heard Runaway AND (You Want To) Make A Memory, two songs that mean a lot to her. I was glad she heard them! I regret not going a little, honestly, but I was able to rest while waiting for the hurricane that was coming the next week!

Day 1 - The VIP package

Venue: Bell Centre
Ticket: Floor, Row E, Seat 20
Pictures: Available
Videos: Available

The first show in Montreal was on a Thursday and already on Monday morning, I felt a little excited! There was no doubt, I was ready! My super cold and my loss of voice were finally over, Martin was relatively well recovered from his mastoiditis (enough to take care of our children without me!) and the kids were in shape (or as Xavier said some time ago, "il pétait des pets de feu" (meaning: he was in "fire" top shape))!

The day before the first show (Wednesday), I was already distracted. I managed to do a great day at the office by finishing some files before my long five-day weekend (of course, I had taken off on Thursday and Friday and we had a holiday on Monday: the perfect scenario!), but my head was beginning to be elsewhere; I really had to put all my energy into my work to not think about it too much!

Whenever I had the opportunity, I was reminding my colleagues that Bon Jovi was in town the next day and two days later! Some even teased me when I told them that I needed to take the day of the first show off and it was worse when I was saying that my show review already had twelve pages of preamble! Let's understand that this review was started a few weeks ago; I had the time to work on it a little between my projects, my work, my children and chores at home! I even had a colleague asking if, after going through my preparation process the day of a show, I was going through a technical review, a kind of Show Readiness Review! haha (We have plenty of technical reviews at work, Manufacturing Readiness Reviews, Test Readiness Reviews, etc. Professional bias, but I found her very funny anyway!)

Maryse also came to us with good news during the afternoon by telling us that she had just bought a ticket in the eighth row for the next day, she who had only until then bought tickets for the second show for her, her daughter and her mother! She would not be far away from us the first night, just a few rows back in the center like us! I started being more sentimental during the evening on Messenger by writing to Maryse and Sandra that in October 2005, when I went to the Bell Centre for my show tickets and I met them (with Genevieve), I went back home with more than just my tickets...

Xavier has recently discovered the song It's My Life that he takes a kick out of singing it (the last words of each sentence of the chorus) by shouting in the house and in the car when he listens to it. The day prior to the first show, I explained that the next day, I would be with Jon Bon Jovi rather than at home. He asked me if I was going to sing It's My Life! I answered him in the affirmative and that I was going to think of him when Jon would sing it! We played it in the house after his bath and he turned into a hysterical boy dancing, running around the house and singing loudly!!!

During the night from Wednesday to Thursday, Xavier fell from his bed in the middle of the night. It was the first time it happened to him in a year (since he got his big bed). It was a sign: he couldn't believe that Bon Jovi were finally in Montreal for their long-awaited shows since they had postponed them from April to May!

On the morning of the first show (Thursday), I drove Xavier to the daycare and I started my usual preparations when I got back home. I was glad to know that I was as nervous as in previous tours, despite my busier schedule compared to the one I had four years ago at the last tour! I was so excited to be able to live with Sandra another VIP package with second-row tickets! I had no doubt that it would be really interesting! I was also so eager to see Montreal's loud crowd again!

It was cloudy outside in the morning, but the forecast was calling for very nice weather during the afternoon. The fruit trees were in bloom, it smelled good outside. It smelled like spring fever, Bon Jovi fever! Indeed, it was more pleasant to see the group in mid-May than in early April during which it was so cold!!

I decided to wear the same tank top I wore in New Jersey once again, the one that says the number of times I listened to Bed Of Roses before asking Jon for a dance. I opted for tight blue jeans that I had not worn in New Jersey, but that I had brought in my suitcase. I also chose to wear comfortable flat shoes, the same as in New Jersey, because high heels would probably not be very useful for second-row tickets!

I left home at around 3h45pm to meet with Sandra at her house; I didn't dare breaking our good old habit! When I arrived, I was surprised; she was almost ready! Her mother told me she was pretty excited because of the upcoming evening! Me too, in fact! We left immediately because it was 4h20pm and we had to be at the Bell Centre before 5h30pm to pick up our tickets and enjoy the pre-show VIP party! When we left, Sandra told me how she was questioned by her colleagues the day after the show in Ottawa.

— Did you do a round trip to Ottawa to go see Bon Jovi?!
— Yeah, what's the problem?
— In the same day?!
— Well yeah, what's the problem?!

Seriously, I don't understand why people are so surprised that fans can do this for their favorite band or artist! It keeps our heart young! We laughed hard because I remembered hearing similar things in the office when I told colleagues that I was going to see Bon Jovi two consecutive nights in Montreal! Well yeah, what's the problem?!

We were caught in a traffic jam before the Champlain Bridge and then we drove smoothly to downtown Montreal. We weren't sure how to get to the Bell Centre with all the construction work in the area. We still decided to go park the car at the Bell Centre in order not to have to walk too long and too far with our chairs after the show!

Obviously, we missed our chance to turn on Saint-Antoine Street that leads to the Bell Centre, so we had to go a few more meters to get back on Saint-Antoine from another street. There was so much traffic on Saint-Antoine, it was insane! Sandra was angry at the Bell Centre because they had removed Jon's picture from Evenko's ad at one of the corners of the building. I reminded her that after all, it had been more than four years since he had not set foot there and that Evenko had to promote artists who have come since!

We saw two people at the entrance of a parking lot just before the Bell Centre that offered spots for 30$. We decided to go a few meters further to go to the Bell Centre directly... When we got there, we saw that the parking at the Bell Centre was already full at 5pm!! Oh no! How come?! We asked the valet if the parking lot was really full. He replied in the affirmative and explained to us that the parking lot was full because of the number of people who had bought parking spaces on Evenko's site! He even told us that there are often more parking tickets sold than there are spots. It seems that once, Evenko had to repay a total of 4,000$ to people who had stumbled on a full parking lot even if they had bought a parking ticket... Not too impressive!

We were a bit in trouble because the traffic was very dense on Saint-Antoine and we were just a little too far to go back and take the parking at 30$ which was just before the Bell Centre! I looked at the time and it was 5h14pm in Sandra's car. I was starting to get a bit worried because the instructions for picking up our tickets said that we had to pick them up at the front door of the Bell Centre's administration before 5h30pm, otherwise the tickets would be at the box office. I was getting scared that we wouldn't be able to enter the VIP party after 5h30pm! We waited a good ten minutes before being able to turn right on de la Montagne Street to find ourselves another parking spot! My heart was starting to pound, I was wondering if there were any way that Sandra could get out of the car, go get our tickets and come back to the car... We had bought our tickets with her credit card, so she was the one who had to pick up our the tickets. Otherwise, I would have walked there while we waited in traffic! At one point, Sandra told me not to get too excited, we still had 20 minutes. What, 20 minutes, it was 5h20pm on her car clock... until I realized it was ten minutes ahead! It was only 5h10pm! Phew!!!

We were really trapped behind a bus that couldn't turn right at the traffic lights to take de la Montagne Street. Sandra lost patience at the same time as other drivers who started honking when the lights turned green again. The bus driver must have understood the message because he turned onto the street even though there was not much room. The bus blocked the street to the people who came from elsewhere, but hey, at least, the way was almost clear!

While we were waiting in the car, I saw a woman go by with a young woman. The woman turned around and I had time to recognize Carole, the fan we met during our trip to Toronto in November 2013! I told Sandra about her and she had the time to see that it was her indeed! She also confirmed that she would attend the show that night with her daughter, so the young woman by her side had to be her daughter! It was such a coincidence!

When we got on de la Montagne Street, we saw that the traffic was as dense as on Saint-Antoine, obviously. When we passed the Bell Centre, Sandra saw that there was a parking lot on our right, but I wasn't convinced that it was open to the public. Sandra honked convincingly so that the valet at the entrance of the parking lot would turn around. I asked him if we could get in there, but he politely told us that it was a private parking lot for the condo towers. Boy boy boy, it was around 5h20pm and we had not found parking yet!

Just before arriving on René-Lévesque Boulevard, Sandra saw a parking lot on our left that seemed to be open to the public!! So we quickly headed toward the entrance of the parking lot that seemed tiny! It wasn't written that it was full, so we took our chance. After paying 25$ to get in, we went around quickly, following the signs on the floor telling us where to go. When we got back to the entrance, Sandra went around again and we asked an employee to find out where to go. He signaled us to follow him and he took us to a place not too far not indicated by the signs. We parked the car where he told us; there were plenty of places around! Afterwards, we saw that there were other places at lower levels, but we never saw the downward slope to get there!

I decided not to bring my leather coat, although I knew it would be cold when we would get out of the Bell Centre. I was tempted to drag it everywhere and we weren't so far away from the Bell Centre either! I told myself that even if I walked a little after getting out, I wouldn't die! The forecast called for 9 degrees at 11hpm, not -20 degrees!

We quickly headed towards the Bell Centre; the Canadiens-de-Montréal avenue was closed to traffic and pedestrians even had a hard time walking because of work in progress. Sandra couldn't remember which door to use to get our tickets and our VIP package. I instinctively headed toward Windsor Court where we were going at the last tour. I went in by using the door leading to the luxury suites, where the check in was done the last time. It was 5h32pm The women at the front desk told us that the VIP packages were at the administration entrance. Where is the administration entrance?! Finally, it was the same entrance as for the restaurant called la Mise au jeu on Saint-Antoine! We passed in front when we arrived! Argh!! We walked very quickly to that door, while grumbling a little bit about the fact that we could have been there twenty minutes earlier!

It was 5h35pm when we entered the Bell Centre through the designated door. A man approached us.

— Are you Sandra?

Our eyes immediately went wide. Of course, Sandra was the one who answered him.

— Of course, I'm Sandra!!
— Follow me please, the check in is that way!

We laughed while we followed the man who brought us to a table. I realized pretty quickly that we had to be the last ones to arrive, because otherwise, how could the man have guessed Sandra's name among several other names?! In fact, we were lucky that the woman working for the fan club, who was sitting at the check in table, didn't decide to leave. We were later than the deadline written on the confirmation of our VIP package! We couldn't miss the check in table this time, because a huge poster was at the back of it!

Backstage With Jon Bon Jovi VIP party banner in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)

The woman was very kind; she, helped by the man, asked Sandra for an ID, put a fluorescent orange bracelet on our arm to designate us as VIPs, gave us our VIP laminates to put around our neck and our tickets in a envelope. The woman told us that we would be in Group 1 for the backstage tour. Sandra gave me one of the tickets, the one on the left. Since I'm taller than Sandra, I always try to be on her left so I don't hide her when we are on the left or in the middle of the floor! That night, we were really dead center. I immediately noticed that the date on the ticket was May 17, 2018 rather than April 4, 2018. I didn't find this very surprising, since the tickets had probably been printed at the last minute.

The man at the beginning then accompanied us a little further, while Sandra said "now that's what I call VIP!!". He then told us to go up the stairs, that it was open bar and the VIP party was at the top of the stairs. We first had to go through a metal detector. Sandra went first, after leaving her purse on a small table next to the detector. I don't like going through that device! Although I have nothing to hide, I don't want it to buzz and I feel a little insecure leaving my belongings (my purse and my camera that night) on a small table while I go forward, even if there is no one behind! Finally, the moment only lasted a few seconds, I got my purse (I had to show its contents to the security guard) and my camera back. We had our tickets scanned by a man working for the Bell Centre at the bottom of the stairs and we went up afterwards. We were really in the right place by these huge posters at the top of the stairs!!

Backstage With Jon Bon Jovi VIP party banner in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)
Backstage With Jon Bon Jovi VIP party banner in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)

We saw the buffet on our right, the bar in front of the buffet and a few people who were sitting between the buffet and the bar on high tables and stools. When we turned to our left, we saw that several other people were sitting and eating, some on high tables and stools and others on normal tables and chairs. Seeing that all the tables seemed busy, we walked a little. We met a man Sandra knew who was in the front row that night with his daughter.

We headed to the mini-museum containing the clothes that Jon has worn during shows in the past. We didn't take the time to look at the texts that accompanied the pieces of clothing, but we nonetheless took pictures of the clothes and sheets so we could read them later! The crocodile skin clothes from the Bed Of Roses video that impressed me so much in February 2013 were still there! In fact, the clothes were pretty much the same as in 2013 and there were less than five years ago. The new thing was the famous Captain America jacket that I was no longer able to see during the Because We Can tour in 2013! Jon always wore it in the end!!

We went to the restroom afterwards, because it had been a while since we left Sandra's house! Beautiful private toilets for about thirty people at the Bell Centre, it's not every day that we can use them!

Leaving the restrooms, we saw a photo booth that took pictures automatically, so we decided to take two acceptable pictures to be able to have a souvenir of our visit to the VIP party. The pictures were not of professional quality, but to have already used this kind of device in the past during events at the daycare with Charles and Xavier, you really have to stay still to get a clear image and the lighting was not strong enough in the room to give optimal results! It's more the memory that counts than the quality of the image!

I recognized some faces, including Eve and Karine that I met in Montreal in 2013. I was looking for a friend (another Sandra whom I will name by her initials "SK" not to confuse yourselves too much with the names!) who was at the VIP party. We had exchanged a lot of messages when the April shows in Montreal were postponed. Unfortunately, I couldn't see her anywhere! Since there didn't seemed to have free tables, I went to ask the woman at the bar if it were possible to bring us another table. She then went to her boss who went around the room with us. He saw that there was not much room left to sit two people together. He saw two women sitting at a high table who had put their belongings on high chairs around a table that seemed free. He asked them if he could take the table and the chairs and the women immediately said yes by putting their things away.

We sat down at this high table. Sandra had already taken a plate when we arrived, but she had not filled it right away. She asked me if I wanted to serve myself first. She knows that I'm hungry quickly at supper time and indeed, I was beginning to feel empty! When I got to the buffet, there was a lot of food: parmesan fries in small paper bags, cold meats and various dishes. Among them were sautéed marinated vegetables, Greek potatoes, meat-filled ravioli, herbed pasta, chicken cacciatore, other things I cannot remember and a woman was at the end of the buffet with a piece of meat that she could cut into pieces. I didn't even ask her what it was! I was still a little shaken from arriving so late at the VIP party, it seemed like I didn't know what to eat! I finally had sauteed vegetables (including asparagus that I wanted to eat for a long time), Greek potatoes, ravioli, chicken cacciatore and I remember taking something else, but I don't remember what! I didn't take the fries for the breath that parmesan could give me and pasta with herbs that I suspected filled with garlic! I had a varied plate, to say the least!! I was so distracted that I didn't see the utensils at the end of the buffet wrapped in white cloth towels. When I asked the woman who cut the piece of meat at the other end of the buffet, I felt a little stupid!

When I came back to the table, Sandra asked me if I wanted something to drink because I only had my plate. I went to the bar where I asked the woman if I could get water. She told me to take some from the flavored water fountain. In fact, it was a water fountain with lemon slices in it. When I got back to the table with my glass of water, Sandra went to get a drink, came back to the table and then went to conquer the buffet. Since I had gone first, I wondered what she would take because she is a vegetarian... She finally came back with only Greek potatoes (which were excellent by the way)! I wondered how she would manage to have enough energy to attend a show after, but hey, I'm not her mother, I ate enough for myself without eating too much and feeling too full either!

While we were eating, I saw SK appear from a table behind a big column that hid our view from the back of the room! She recognized me right away and came to talk to us. In fact, she stayed with us for the rest of the VIP party! We talked about everything and nothing, about Bon Jovi obviously! I congratulated her for reaching the honorable mark of 250 Bon Jovi shows since her first show in 1996. I later mentioned to her that she is the biggest Bon Jovi fan I know. She's so humble, she just asked me what made her the biggest Bon Jovi fan in my opinion and that it was a bit odd to be able to determine who of us was the biggest fan! She doesn't seem to realize how much I admire that a person can be as fan of a band as her to attend an average of eleven concerts a year for twenty years!

Shortly before we left for the backstage visit (SK was also in Group 1, she seemed very happy we were together!), the fan club representatives had prizes to give away. We had received, in the same envelope as our show tickets, small red numbered tickets. SK told us that she would like to have Tico's autographed drum top and that she didn't care about the t-shirt that came with it; with all the VIP packages she had paid for, she hadn't won one yet and sometimes, it seems, the number drawn was 2-3 numbers away from hers. Indeed, she came close to receiving the drum top twice! The three of us didn't win anything from this draw. The fan club representatives later told us that it was time to finish our drink and that Group 1 would leave in ten minutes, followed closely by Group 2. Unlike in 2013, the fan club had better organized backstage visits, because I admit it was pretty chaotic with everyone choosing when they went to the visit, which made groups unbalanced.

Sandra went to the restroom and SK and I continued talking a little, after I went to get a macadam nut cookie that I associate with the VIP fan club parties; in fact, I was really happy that the fan club didn't change my winning condition to feel VIP and that these cookies were still there after so many years!! Thank you fan club! Yum!! While I was eating the cookie, SK asked me if I had a big purse so she could put her bottle of water in it. Unfortunately, no, I only had my burgundy purse that I had brought to New Jersey; there is not enough space to fit a bottle of water in it! She left her bottle of water on the table and went to the restroom in turn. I thought that it was better to wait during the opening act to go; it was a strange reaction from met, because I usually have to go several times before a show! While I was alone, I saw other desserts that give me the eye a lot. Thus I got up to go quickly for another thicker cookie that seemed to be a kind of oatmeal cake with raisins! YUM!! It was so good!! Finally, I could have been satisfied with only eating sweets at this VIP party!! And that's what I remember most afterwards: how good the desserts were!

After Sandra and SK returned to the table, Sandra asked me if I wanted a bottle of water for the show. When I said yes, she went to get one for herself and one for me. SK asked her if she could carry hers in Sandra's purse and she accepted right away. I decided to leave mine in my hands for now.

At around 6h50pm, the fan club asked the people in Group 1 to come forward. We headed toward the bar because we had to go through a particular door to start the visit. Once out of the restaurant, the woman who would come with us introduced herself. Her name was Christine and she was part of the roadies. She had a microphone in her hand and when she spoke in it, strangely, we were able to understand her without earphones like in 2013. She saw that I still had my bottle of water in my hand and told me that I was better off hiding it, because I could have it confiscated if people from the Bell Centre saw it in my hands. I looked at Sandra, we laughed and she told me that of course she could carry it in her purse! She had just taken a second bottle at the bar, so she carried four bottles in her purse, in addition to the rest of her belongings! She gave me her purse so I could take it in my hands for a moment and honestly, I don't know how many pounds it weighed, but I could never have carried that on my shoulder!

SK warned us at first that the visit was a little less impressive this time, compared to 2013 when we saw a lot of things. We were walking down a hallway when SK asked us if we wanted her VIP chairs of both nights, because for her, bringing them back to her home in Europe meant paying additional costs and she had already had several since the last two tours. She added that if it continued like that, she would have to buy a big table to put them around! haha We accepted quickly, because we would have only one each with our VIP package. I found her extremely generous toward us, even if it made her happy for us to say yes!

We passed a corridor where we saw people, signs that showed where were the services for Bon Jovi, including massage therapy (I suspect that the band members were not very far...), equipment boxes and even semi-trailer trucks that were parked in front of holes from which it was easy to unload and load them at the very end. Christine explained a lot of things about touring life. Among other things, roadies who unload trucks and build the stage can sleep in hammocks directly in the trucks! Just as she said that, I turned my head to my left to see the inside of the trucks and I saw someone in a hammock who waved at us!! It seems that it takes twelve semi-trailer trucks to carry the stage and all the necessary equipment!! She also specified that arenas don't provide much, that's why they must carry as much!

After go through a black curtain, we found ourselves at the back of the floor. I didn't realize that we had gone through the part of the hallways that are usually guarded by security guards, near the floor restrooms!! I realized a little too late that we had really gone where nobody can usually go, except the roadies!

Christine brought us closer to the sound console at the back of the floor. I didn't realize that the doors of the Bell Centre were open and people had already started to arrive at their seats. It's an incredible feeling to come out of nowhere with a roadie by wearing a VIP laminate around the neck and see the people in the stands watching us with a puzzled look! We didn't need to show our tickets to anyone before arriving in the show room, another unusual thing when we have floor tickets!! Christine explained things to us at the sound console, but I didn't pay too much attention to what she was saying, because I was too absorbed in everything that was happening around. I still listened to her when she explained that in their headsets, they can hear keywords related to the stage, such as "stage left" and "stage right". These keywords mean left and right of the stage respectively when we are on the stage and we look at the room. On the other hand, "house left" and "house right" mean left and right respectively looking toward the stage. These details are supposedly important to be able to go quickly where someone needs them!

We then headed toward to the front of the stage by taking the passageway along the boards on the right (the famous "house right"). Sandra showed me the platform where Jon would be for two songs and we were really surprised to see that it was in section 115 instead of section 112 as we had deduced with the location of the platform in New Jersey! Sandra was very disappointed for Carole because she had supposedly bought tickets in section 112 just to be close to Jon when he would be at the platform! Oh no!!

When we arrived beside the stage on the right side, we stopped so a roadie could explain to us the small console he uses to control the cameras, including those that come and go on the rails hooked to the stage. I suspected that someone was controlling them, but I didn't know that the person was beside the stage like that! I don't know how many cameras there were, but I saw at least nine screens with different views on his small console! He explained to us that he can also control the speed, the elevation and azimuth angles of the cameras on the stage and other parameters.

SK was providing us with more information at the same time during the visit according to what she had already seen during her backstage visits or during past shows! In that sense, she was proud to tell us that during one of the two nights in New York, she had tickets in the first rows in the stands and she had seen Stephanie, Jesse and Dorothea near her during the show (Stephanie is Jon's daughter, Jesse is his oldest son and Dorothea is his wife). It seems that Dorothea and Stephanie stayed for maybe a song before leaving, but Jesse stayed longer. When I asked her why Stephanie and Dorothea didn't stay, she just told me that they are not so interested in attending a Bon Jovi show! The other night in New York, SK had a ticket behind the stage. She had been able to observe what was going on backstage, including the Jon's back and forth trips and the other band members in their little dressing rooms under the stage. She found it very funny that Dawn, the one who shops for Jon's clothes, goes with him in his little dressing room under the stage when he changes clothes! She also shared with us a detail that had always intrigued me! She confirmed that when Jon returns from being in the crowd after the songs at the platform, he wipes his hands with a disinfectant gel (like Purell) before returning to the stage! That's why he doesn't get sick more often than that after touching dozens of people!!! It takes a bit of the magic away to know that, because the women who touch him don't want to wash their hands, but he quickly does it when he comes back under the stage! It also explains why it takes him a while to get back on the stage, even though he doesn't seem to stop singing that much. Maybe Dawn is holding his microphone while he cleans his hands, I don't know...

While SK was telling us all about this and I was lost in my thoughts with Jon's disinfectant gel, the roadie responsible for the cameras explained an anecdote about a plastic bottle he was holding next to him. He said that if someone put 20$ in his bottle, that person could be allowed to touch a roadie! On the other side of the bottle, there was a label saying that we could also have a free hug if we asked for it. I didn't quite understand the joke or even if it was one... All I remember is that the roadie had a long white gray beard, seemed to have a good sense of humor and he was really nice!

We then went to the back of the stage, really "backstage"! I was amazed to see the height of the stage. I could probably put my hand on the stage if I put my arms in the air. Anyway, we could at least walk below the stage without having to bend forward! It was really special to be there once again. It was the thing that I liked most about my backstage visit in 2013: find myself under the stage like that! Again, I had the feeling of entering into the intimicy of the band members!

When we turned the right back corner of the stage, Christine headed for the stairs to get on the stage. I hadn't arrived yet when I heard her speak again.

— Oh, you have a special treat! Phil X is here!

The people ahead of me started to get a little excited. What?! Phil X, the guitarist, was there?! It was too good to be true, but I thought he might not take the time to talk to us... Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god! I was maybe going to finally met Phil X, after all the time I was hearing that he is super nice!! When I turned the corner of the stage, I saw him on my left; he was in his personal space under the stage! He seemed happy to be there! He had a huge smile on his face and he was saying hello to everyone!! I heard someone ask if we could take pictures and Phil gladly accepted. I was losing my mind inside, I couldn't believe that both times I went backstage, I would see band members! Sandra got her picture with him, she was really excited! SK told me it wasn't the first time she saw him during backstage visits. When Sandra got away from Phil, I waited until a woman took a picture with him and then I stepped forward while giving my camera to Sandra at the same time so she could take a picture. Phil was very smiling and told me a few words.

— Hi!
— Hi Phil! I'm so glad that I finally get to meet you!
— No problem.
— Can I get a picture?
— Sure!

He smiled at me all the time that I spoke to him, he seemed touched by the fact that I told him that I was happy to finally meet him. I got closer to him on his right, I put my left hand behind his back on his leather jacket. I was really happy and the vein on my forehead confirms it! haha

Marie-Hélène Cyr and Phil X (Bon Jovi) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)

When the picture was taken, I stepped forward to get my camera back. Phil X looked a little surprised.

— Ooh, a real camera! Nice!
— Yeah... haha Thank you so much, Phil!
— No problem, you girls have fun tonight, OK? (en pointant Sandra, SK et moi)
— You too, eh? Have fun!

He seemed surprised that I told him to have fun tonight, I guess that people rarely tell him that! I found it really funny that he made a comment on my camera, because all the people who wanted to take pictures with him arrived with their cellular phone!!

It was impossible for us to go up the stairs leading to the stage next to Phil, because several other people approached him. So we waited a bit. Shortly after, Sandra wanted to take a picture of him alone while the people in front of us had finished. Phil saw her.

— Phil, would you strike a pose for me, please?
— I won't do any unless you're with me in the pic. Give your phone to your friend!

Sandra had just been grounded/teased by Phil! I simply couldn't believe it! She got closer and got another picture with him! I then asked SK if she wanted to have her picture too and at first she didn't feel like it. I managed to convince her and she stepped forward in turn, while I was now on Phil's left, ready to climb the stairs. Sandra took the picture with SK's cellular phone, but I took some with my camera just in case. We then all thanked him and went on stage. I was still a little shocked to have met Phil X when I stepped on the stage, I didn't realize completely where I was! Christine had told us that we could touch Jon's white microphone stand, but nothing else on the stage. She also told us that the instruments for the opening act were there and that they would be removed after their performance. There wasn't so many things for the Bon Jovi show! I took the time to look at the crowd, the approximate location of our seats and David's keyboards before realizing that the main attraction was Jon's microphone stand in the middle of the stage!

We spent several minutes on the stage. Sandra pointed out to me at one point that Phil was still there with Group 2 of the visit and he didn't seem in a hurry to leave. Seriously, I fell in love with this man. People who met him in the past all told me, without exception, how kind, patient and smiling he is, and most of all, how much he loves his fans. I had some doubts, because hey, he is part of Bon Jovi and has many other things to do, but after meeting him, I'm convinced that he is always like that with the fans who give him back all this kindness!

I took some pictures of the Bon Jovi logo printed on the stage, because I hadn't thought about looking at this in 2013 and I would probably not have the opportunity to see it during both shows since I was close to the stage! I'm sure I was as saturated with wonder as a child in a toy store. I wanted to see everything, remember everything, I'm lucky my brain didn't overburn!

Sandra and I took pictures with Jon's microphone stand and I don't remember SK wanting to have her picture taken. When I let go of the stand, I looked at it carefully, I gave a gentle pat on it and I said to myself: Jon will touch that later!! We then asked SK if she wanted to take a picture of Sandra and me in front of David's keyboards, since we were on the stage together! And afterwards, I told SK that I wanted to have a picture with her. She seemed surprised by my request!

Sandra Coussa and Marie-Hélène Cyr on Bon Jovi stage in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)
Marie-Hélène Cyr and SK on Bon Jovi stage in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)
Marie-Hélène Cyr with Jon Bon Jovi's microphone stand in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)
Pre-show visit on Bon Jovi stage in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)

OK, I see you coming... But what is the last picture on the bottom right shown above? This, these are all the things Jon keeps close to Tico's drums on stage during the show! A towel to wipe his face when he has too much sweat coming down, a bottle of cold water, another bottle of water with ice inside, products to clear his airways.... and a bottle of Purell!!! I found it hilarious to find one on the stage! It soothed me to know that I had another point in common with Jon by dragging around a bottle of Purell with me! OK, I don't touch as many people as Jon does, but hey, that's a detail! haha

I looked at the stage floor right after this "interlude" with Jon's products on the stage and I suddenly had an idea. I began to jump slightly and more and more intensely on the stage. Sandra and SK wondered what I was doing.

— Well what, I jump on the stage!!

In the past year, I've learned to land my feet better on the ground under my physiotherapist's guidance in order to avoid hurting myself when I run and jump, of course. In my head, I was saying to myself: "Hey, how many times in my life will I be able to jump on Bon Jovi's stage?!" The odds that we would go on the stage in the next two nights were still very slim, I was better off, while I was on the stage, satisfying this urge to jump on it! I don't know how long my crazy moment lasted, but I can say one thing: I had a lot of fun!! I was facing the back of the room and David's keyboards when I was jumping. I could also notice that the stage is very solid, because I didn't feel it moving under me at all when my feet landed on it! Well, it was done, I did almost the same thing as Jon does when he jumps like a monkey on stage and I felt happy about it!!

Christine then asked us to follow her and get off the stage by the same staircase to continue the visit. She specified that we were going to see Jon's little dressing room under the stage. She insisted that no picture was to be taken of his dressing room. It was therefore an excessively privileged moment to be able to see inside. Christine was even the only one who could hold the curtain and we could just look inside without entering. It's really special to look into a place surrounded by so much mystery and restriction about pictures... I felt like I was going into Jon's intimacy. The dressing room does not contain much, honestly, apart from a mirror, a table with a coffee machine, cups and bottles of water... I immediately noticed the picture of Tom Brady with an inspiring quote (which I don't remember anymore) hanging on the mirror. Christine told us that in 2013, it was a picture of Frank Sinatra and a little later, it was Usain Bolt. A woman immediately noticed the smell coming from the dressing room and asked Christine if it smelled menthol, which she confirmed. This is probably a way that Jon has found to preserve his voice! And the next day, I connected the dots and told myself that it's probably this smell that is impregnated in Jon's clothes and that makes him smell so good during a show! I asked Christine if during a show, Jon drinks the full two 4 liters of water that I saw on the floor next to the table. She told me that these 4 liters are there in case, but Jon doesn't usually drink all the water available to him.

We continued down the stairs to reach the true concrete floor of the Bell Centre. During the whole backstage visit, and the same thing happened in 2013 during my first backstage visit, all my senses were totally open to capture as many details as possible. I already notice a lot of details of my environment, it's ten times worse when I'm backstage! Thus I was able to see a hair dryer on the floor near the stairs and Jon's dressing room. Sandra and SK saw it as well. I really wondered if Jon dries his hair during the show with this dryer when he goes to change clothes! I cannot confirm if it was plugged in or not at that moment, but it would have been really funny to take it in our hands and try it! haha I had a big smile up to my ears thinking of what had just crossed my mind!

Once on the concrete floor, we crossed about half of the width of the stage. I immediately noticed the leather couches that were placed to our right; a roadie was sitting on one of the couches! In short, there is a sound console under the stage with a lot of buttons to control the levels of sound that is sent into the headphones of each band member on stage. Unusual fact: each member hears something different, depending on their preferences! It was special to see that there are people working to ensure that all members are happy with what they hear to play at their best! I also noticed a "setlist" that was pinned on one of the stage pieces. I wondered if that was the setlist we were going to hear that night, but when I approached, I saw that it was from 2017! Sandra didn't see the date on it; she took a picture of the sheet and she was very happy to show it to me later... until I told her it was a year old! haha

We could see Hugh's basses and John Shanks' many guitars before heading to the right side of the stage where the visit ended, unfortunately! Someone asked Christine if there was a pit on this tour. She answered negatively, specifying that Jon had wanted to have a very sober stage, with just a few special effects and no screens other than small screens for those on the sides. With the sobriety of the stage, he supposedly wanted to recreate the effect of a show in a small place (like bars), but in amphitheatres. Jon wanted to give the impression of being very accessible to his fans.

Christine finally invited us to go to our seats and enjoy the show. Sandra took a picture of the sheet on which the bracelets colors of the VIP packages and people in the front row were indicated. As soon as she took the picture, a security guard stopped her and asked her to immediately delete her picture from her cellular phone. I knew there was a reason why the bracelets were never the same color from one night to the next, but I didn't know how secret it was, especially when there are only two shows left to a tour!

My backstage visit that night has had the same effect as in 2013. Some of you are probably wondering why it's so magical for me to be able to go to the most "secret" corners of a large-scale production like that of Bon Jovi. In fact, it's much more than that. Seeing the dressing rooms under the stage, noticing insignificant details like a bottle of Purell or a hair dryer, it exposes the "ordinary human" side of the band members and Jon. When I was young, Jon seemed to live the luxurious life of a rock star with all the glory that comes with it and he became a kind of god to me, someone unreachable. But being able to go backstage and hear about the people who help set the stage and get the fans to have good shows puts things into perspective. By the way, I quite like Bon Jovi's song called Ordinary People, for which some of the lyrics are:

You and me, we're ordinary people
Living in our ordinary lives
We can be ordinary people
These are extraordinary times
And I've got dreams like ordinary people
I can see them when I close my eyes at night
Can't you see we're ordinary people
These are extraordinary time

In short, opening my eyes wide backstage to see all the details, smelling menthol in Jon's dressing room under the stage, all this puts me in a state of absolute well-being, because I know that Jon is not too different from me and from you. At the same time, it moves me to tears to think that I had the privilege of going backstage twice in five years and be able to achieve all that. My experience and transformation would never have been so complete and authentic if someone had only told me what they saw backstage.

Sandra and I decided to go to the restrooms before the opening act, to stay away from the sound to avoid tiring our ears for nothing. SK decided to go to her seat right away; she was in the second row as well, but there were two seats separating us (too bad). There was no waiting in the restrooms at the back of the floor. I took the opportunity to put drops in my eyes after washing my hands to avoid having to put some once at my seat! The opening act, The Record Breakers, started at 7h30pm and we decided to stay behind the black curtains that hide the view and muffle the sound. A woman approached us as we were waiting in the hallway near the restroom.

— Where did you get that?! (by pointing the VIP laminate around Sandra's neck)
— Well, it's with a VIP package... replied Sandra.
— That's what I'm saying!! I want that! Where did you get it?
— Well, they gave it to us... It's with the fan club... We were on stage...
— You're VIP?
— Yes...
— I'm supposed to be VIP! They said that to me when I bought my tickets!
— Well...
— I'm gonna call them right now! I was supposed to be VIP!!!

The woman seemed a little overwhelmed by the events and especially frustrated not to be VIP. Sandra and I thought she had been told by someone that she would be VIP, but in fact, if she had not bought a VIP package with the fan club, she couldn't pretend to be a VIP and packages that we had access to were not transferable. I think the woman was the victim of a misunderstanding (intentional or not) from the person who sold her tickets! I saw her five minutes later on the phone with someone, arguing. I felt a little bad for her, honestly! If she had known how much we had paid to have our backstage visit, I think the woman would have understood that this privilege was not free!

We walked a little away from the noise from the show room, but the small hallway was quite short because of the small number of sections at the end of the rink. There was a small merchandise booth and Sandra went to see what they were selling there. She wanted to see if the reusable Bon Jovi bag was on sale, but no luck for her. She then wanted to see behind the black curtain that was on our left in the hallway next to the booth, but the security guard who was in front of us said it was forbidden. This is when I realized that this is where we went during our visit to get to the back of the floor! For sure he wouldn't let us go there!!

While we waited for the opening act to end, we chatted a bit about anything. I was able to confirm what I had said to my mother a few weeks ago that there is a water fountain in the Bell Centre, between both restrooms at the back of the floor where we were located! Two security guards were close to us and at one point, one of them asked Sandra if they knew each other. In my head, I said to myself: "Ah, that's it!!" It's weird, the man's face was familiar to me as well, but Sandra didn't remember him at all! He asked her if she comes to see a lot of shows at the Bell Centre or if she was from Brossard. He could swear to have seen her somewhere. Finally, after a few minutes, he had a reasonable doubt in his head to let go... Sandra was flattered for being approached that way by a security guard; it's always fun to have security on your side!

I remembered that I knew quite a lot of people who had tickets in the first rows on the floor. I passed the comment to Sandra that it was quite special in a sense to know so many people up front. We are a small community of "maniac" Bon Jovi fans who are almost always up front. I find it fantastic! It's like a big family reunion to all end up front for Bon Jovi!

The opening act ended at 7h50pm as planned and we decided to go back to the restrooms one last time before the show and before the rush of all the women who were waiting for the end of the opening act before imitating us! We did the right thing, because when I washed my hands, I saw a lot of women arrive quickly at the restrooms!

When we got to our seats and when I turned around to face the stage, I immediately knew I would have a great evening! Jon's microphone stand was directly in front of us! There was a big gap between the barricade and the front row and more room than in New Jersey between the rows as well. They had probably removed a few rows on the floor (the show was not sold out, for a rare time in the history of the band) and to create the illusion that the show was sold out on the floor, they had positioned the chairs so that there was more space between the rows. SK was on our right, only a couple separated us. She was discouraged to see that there was so much space between the barricade and us. As she mentioned, we seemed to be as far as the fourth row! Well, I wasn't complaining too much, because unlike when I had been in the fourth row, there was only one person in front of me and thanks to the big gap between the barricade and the front row, even if the person was tall, he/she couldn't hide my view of the stage! Anyway, Eve and another quite small woman were the ones ahead of me, so I didn't worry about that!

I took off my little red open shirt, revealing the white tank top I have been wearing since 2013. I'm always a little embarrassed the first time I take off a shirt that hides it, but hey, I get used to it after a few minutes to see people watching me! I also put my things on the chair that I was going to bring back at the end of the evening.

Sandra and I saw Sandra's sister who was a little further on the floor. She waived at us with conviction at the beginning and Sandra went to talk to her, while I stayed with SK. The latter was worried about seeing people in the front row who didn't have front row tickets. She hoped they wouldn't stay there for the show. I tried to reassure her that security in Montreal is usually perfect for that, but she was still worried. So I offered to go see a security guard who was close to us to ask him. The guard was really nice; he told us that he was tolerating these people for the moment, but later he would ask all those who didn't have bracelets to identify them as having a front row ticket to return to their seats. SK seemed reassured a little more... And me too! I didn't want to end up with more than one person ahead of me, at the price I had paid!!

At some point, I had my back turned from the stage and I saw Teresa, a big fan that I learned to discover in recent weeks when we became friends on Facebook. We have a lot of things in common, a lot more than I thought! She was with two friends and seemed in great discussion with them. At one point, as I stared at her, she looked at me, as if she knew someone was looking at her. Her face suddenly changed, she got up and came to give me a big hug. It was the first time I spoke to her more than two seconds in real life. Teresa was the one who always came first in the ticket queues back in the days when the fan club tickets had to be picked up directly at the Bell Centre. We had to announce ourselves to her when we arrived, because she kept a list of the people who had showed up so that we weren't confined to wait in line! So we talked a little bit. I was really impressed by her French, because we had only written to each other in English, even though she told me that she also spoke French. I just didn't realize how good her French would be! When she finally returned to her two other friends, they seemed to wonder who I was and why we seemed so happy to see each other!

I didn't have time to return to SK after chatting with Teresa that a woman approached me. It was Patrizia, a fan who contacted me in September 2013 through my website! We had seen each other on November 8, 2013 when she thought we were next to each other before realizing that she was on the other side of the pit! She had tickets in the first rows on the floor that night and the next day too, thanks to her registration to the fan club, she registered after she contacted me in 2013. She told me that she had recognized me immediately because of my tank top! Definitely, this tank top is making me a little recognizable! I made the right decision to always wear it (don't worry, I have three copies at home, I don't put the same when I attend two shows in two nights!) Patrizia told me right off the bat not to mention her in my review, in case I wanted to say bad things about her. Huh?! I hope I have never said bad things about someone in my reviews!! She was very nice actually, so I mention her here to say that much about her! We chatted a little, she told me again how much she likes to read my show reviews, that I feel exactly the same thing as her at shows and that I make her relive beautiful moments. Good for her, my god, good for her! I write my reviews for myself first to make sure I don't forget details. If I can share them with others to bring back pleasant memories, it's even better! Patrizia asked me if Jon knows I write so much after every Bon Jovi show. Honestly, I don't think so! But good for me and for him if he knows!

In short, here is what I want people to remember: in the future, if there are others who recognize me and think the same thing about my reviews, don't hesitate to come see me, it will make me happy to meet you! I'm pretty shy in nature, so if you don't come to me, there is a good chance that I won't go to you and it's not because I don't know my manners, I'm just shy! And if you are too embarrassed to meet me, send me a message through my website so that I know where your tickets are and I will come by to say hello!

I then went back to SK and sat by her side to continue talking a little bit before the show. I told her what had happened to me, that people recognized me by my tank top and by the fact that I wrote show reviews. She seemed surprised and even told me: "You are becoming famous!" Well, maybe not, but hey, it's still fun!

I arrived at my seat only a few minutes before the show and it put a little pressure on myself to prepare my usual setup with my purse hanging under the chair with the strap fastened on the seat, my shirt held on the seat by the strap and I also put our pink banner under the strap of my purse to keep it in place until we were ready to show it to Jon. Sandra was already at her seat near me. I asked her to give me my bottle of water she had been carrying since the beginning of the evening in her purse and I began to pour the water into my soft water bag that I had so much appreciated in New Jersey for its ease of access and use! I then put the bag on my shirt, held by my purse strap.

I know that Maryse, who had a ticket a few rows behind us, came to see us by passing by the front row. I just had the time to say hello to her very very briefly, because I didn't want to get caught doing my setup in the dark and miss a minute of this show! Sorry Maryse, you saw me a little stressed out!!

I didn't have the chance to anticipate more than a minute the moment when the lights would turn off in the Bell Centre! I had already decided to make a video of the beginning of the show again, because I thought I heard that in Ottawa and Toronto, it was a Canadian flag that was shown on the net coming down in front of the stage at the beginning of the show. I had time to see the net go down and see a roadie take it to guide it to the right place just in front of the stage. As soon as the Canadian flag appeared on the net, the crowd screamed madly. Later in the little video shown on the net, I recognized Montreal buildings and they even showed the Bell Centre! The crowd reacted strongly at that moment by letting out a big roar. In my head, full of thoughts jostled in my head.

"I'm in Montreal, at home, with a crazy crowd and the band members are not on stage yet!!"

"It's going to be so great here, my god that I'm close!"

"Did you see Jon's microphone, we'll have it in front of us almost all evening!"

"Finally, I think I was looking forward to that show more than I thought!"

"Hey, I'm not siiiiiick!! And I'm at a Bon Jovi show!! I have to make the most of it!"

"My god, the band members are starting to come on stage, I see them, they are all close! Ahhh!"

"Have fun!"

"Ahhh! Here's Jon!"

I was making a video while all those thoughts were going by in my head and I started singing as soon as Jon started This House Is Not For Sale behind the net. Anticipation, anticipation, the net would start to rise when he would sing "I'm coming home" the first time. When that precise moment arrived, I choked up, Jon was so close!! I started to shake like a leaf, I could see that my video would be really bad from this moment on. I made a video while I was holding the camera with my left hand only in order to be able to enjoy the moment without having my face behind the camera. I couldn't control myself, I was shaking and I could hardly sing!

"What is happening to me?"

"Why am I shaking so much?" I met Jon twice, why am I shaking so much?!

"Come on, get a grip! You've been much closer to Jon than that during a few shows when there was a pit!"

"These are my best tickets ever! Ahhh!!"

I think there is a difference between being so close to the stage at the beginning and seeing Jon arrive in the pit or at the catwalk in the middle of the show. At least, the shock of the beginning is over! I was thus completely caught up in my emotions, I wasn't prepared for this immense joy that took over when the net lifted up!

Here is the setlist:


The 23-song show lasted from 8h30pm to 11h02pm. I took a total of 1762 pictures (including the pictures during the backstage visit) and 15 videos. I was not disappointed when I saw my best pictures!

Now I will try to describe the experience of ending up in the second row dead center. How is it, you say? That's wonderful. The front row doesn't hide your sight, Jon sees you and can interact very easily with you. Yes, you know it when he looks at you. You are also almost not capable of taking a picture of the whole band because you're so close to the stage that seeing everything from one end to the other with the camera is a challenge, even without zooming. Other band members can also interact with you. I remember that at the beginning of the concert, Phil X looked at us and when our eyes met, he changed his expression and he pointed to me by saying "hey, you're there!" with a big smile. It was quite special!

Being in the second row also means being illuminated by a blue light between songs that helps band members see where they are going on the stage. It really impressed me to be in this blue light while the Bell Centre was plunged into darkness! It was so bright that we could really see everything around us!

I also noticed during the show that I was hearing Jon's real voice, the one that is not amplified yet by the sound columns that were behind me anyway. The sound was better than we had experienced in New Jersey. And for the ones that reported that Jon's voice was failing, I don't know where these people took that information. Jon's voice seemed right to me from our perspective! It's probably the sound that was cutting off from time to time toward the back of the room! Just hearing him hold notes for a long time during Amen proved that he had all of his voice!

We saw David Bergman, Bon Jovi's official photographer, walk a lot between the first and second rows during the show. He came long enough at the very beginning during Raise Your Hands and he came back toward the end too. He is extremely discreet and walks around a lot! Even Jon has a hard time knowing where he is, but I've already seen pictures where Jon points David's camera as if to say "I saw you"! I can also say that I saw him with the picture below. It's impressive to see him go around with multiple cameras!

David Bergman at the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)

I enjoyed hearing Raise Your Hands! It was the perfect song to set the stage for You Give Love A Bad Name. At the end of Raise Your Hands, I saw that the vast majority of people behind the stage were standing (there were only people up to the last row of the first sections of the red seats behind the stage), arms in the air. As I turned around, I saw that quite a lot of people in the Bell Centre, including the people at the other end of the room up high, had their arms in the air. It was great! When the song finished, Jon had to wait a bit before starting to talk, because the screaming was too loud in the Bell Centre! He then greeted us officially and welcomed us.

— We've got a lot of catch up to do. So strap yourselves in baby, and hold on tight... and let me do the drivin'.

Jon then walked around fast from one side of the stage to the other to tell people to get out of their seats, but from where I was, I could see that all the people were already standing! It felt so much like the beginning of You Give Love A Bad Name, I think the crowd is starting to know that by the craziness that was already going on within the Bell Centre! He hadn't even finished singing the "Shot through the heart" that the crowd went crazy in the room, people were screaming like maniacs behind us, like a wave of screams that would have swept over us from the back. I think Jon saw me for the first time during You Give Love A Bad Name, because he walks a lot during this song! In fact, I cannot really count the number of times our eyes met, because there have been many opportunities! I was really in front of him!

I took the opportunity to take a lot of pictures during Whole Lot Of Leavin' and Lost Highway, because Jon is quieter behind his guitar and they are not my favorite songs in concert. Sandra still reconciled me with Lost Highway when we came back from New Jersey in April, reminding me that Jon reacted very strongly to my banner that said that I was 35 weeks pregnant on May 4, 2011 on this song!

Right after Lost Highway, when the band was still in the dark, I was able to see Jon turn to John Shanks and say "I LOOOVE Montreal!!" It's not just to please Montreal's crowd that he says the same thing in interviews or in newspaper articles, he seems to really like Montreal to specify it in the darkness to another band member!!

That's when Jon said that since they came to Montreal last time, a new album was released. He thanked us for allowing the album to be number 1 in the charts twice over two different years (2017 and 2018). They decided to go on tour and that's when they realized that they have been in the business for 35 years since the first album was released. He then mentioned that they made a pit stop at a place called Cleveland, Ohio to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. People applauded and shouted loudly. Jon went on to say that that night and the next day, they would be celebrating all of this with the last two shows of the tour right here in Montreal. He then thanked us for our patience with him, for our kindness and our support. He said something that really touched me.

— I'll try not to get too emotional about it because we've got a long way to go.

He then touched his heart with his hand and closed his eyes. He seemed so sincere, he looked like he was choking up thinking about all of that.

At the first notes of Roller Coaster, Sandra turned to me.

— Do you want me to call you, or are you going to be ok?!
— HAHA! No I'm going to be fine!!

I was so surprised by her reaction, I bursted out laughing! She was referring to the fact that she had called me during Roller Coaster when she was in Ottawa. I was really happy to finally hear it live! I love this song so much, it represents what anyone can live. If you're alive, you're inevitably going through a roller coaster. I told myself at that moment that I have truly experienced a lot of roller coasters in the last years and especially in the last few weeks where it has been one incredible twist and turn after another, including the postponement of the Montreal shows at the last minute! I also saw Eve in the front row jumping a lot and doing circles with her arm, her finger in the air, while Jon was singing "Life ain't a merry-go-round" and doing the same thing himself. I wondered how she could have so much energy in the front row, she was jumping so often! I made a video of the whole song, holding my camera again with just one hand close to my body and savoring the song with my other hand and having my face unhidden!

I was hot and my hair became a little wet as I was jumping and dancing. I thus was putting my hair in a toque from time to time and I would hold it for a few seconds, the time to cool down the base of my hair and my neck before letting it fall on my shoulders.

When When We Were Beautiful started, I looked at Sandra who had a discouraged face. I must say that I was discouraged too. Not that song! He could have chosen so many other songs than this one!! I don't understand how it ended up on the setlist!! I don't have many memories from it, it seems like my brain decided not to listen to the song! I just remember taking pictures, while being stuck waiting for it to finish. Jon, if you ever see this review, please, realize that this is not our favorite one!!

I took the banner in my hands with excitement that I could feel deeply within me and I unfolded it as quickly as possible so that Sandra and I could take it and hold it each by the edges to show it to Jon and hope. He didn't have the choice to see it, it was directly in his face!! And he saw it very quickly! That's when he said no with his head going from one side to the other! Oh no!! Well, at least, he answered us! We still held it in our hands throughout the song, in case he changed his mind (I knew he wouldn't change his mind, but well...)!

Eve turned around at the same time and when she saw our banner, she was kind enough to take a picture of us, so we have a nice memory thanks to her! I thought the banner was much less visible than that! It seemed so wrinkled from my angle, because we had to fold it so that it would fit in Sandra's purse!

Marie-Hélène Cyr and Sandra Coussa at the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)

After the song, I folded our banner and I put it on the chair under my purse strap. I told myself that at least Jon had seen it and that we still had one more chance the next day!

Born To Be My Baby triggered another wave of loud screams throughout the Bell Centre. Jon went around a lot on stage during the song, as he usually does. A woman further on my left in the front row tried to catch Jon's attention with two red roses as he walked past her. He stretched out and took one of the roses in his hands and then headed to our right with the rose near his microphone. She lost a petal or two while he was holding it. He finally threw it very hard toward the crowd in the sections located to the right of the stage. I didn't see who was the lucky one. Fun fact: I saw one of the petals that had come loose fall down near the stage several seconds after the rose was thrown! I don't know what allowed it to fly for such a long time in the air!

During the solo, while looking in the crowd to my right in the stands to see who could have caught the rose, I noticed a woman sitting down. She seemed to be holding a little boy in her arms with another child near her in the first rows of the red seats next to the stage. I zoomed in with my camera (because I was making a video) and I realized that I didn't hallucinate! The boy didn't look older than Charles and had ear muffs to protect his ears. He seemed so tired! The little girl still seemed captivated on her side! The mother seemed very relaxed from where she was and strangely, there was no one around her, as if she had decided to go down to be quieter even if she didn't see much of the action being so low in the stands because of the height of the stage, except when Jon was going on their side!

The cameras that were moving along the rails on stage didn't seem to bother me throughout the evening. It's weird that in New Jersey, one of them often blocked our view. I didn't notice if they came near the center either. In any case, it was good not to have my view blocked by any of them!

When Jon told Tico it was time to go into second gear, I knew It's My Life would start! The crowd triggered another wave of hysteria in the Bell Centre at the first notes of the song! I also looked at my watch, it was 9h22pm. I had told Xavier the previous day that when Jon Bon Jovi sang It's My Life, I would think of him and sing loudly like he does at home. I hope that he would have been proud; at first, I sang so loud and jumped so high that I wondered how I could have so much energy!

Jon is quite in shape to jump like he did for two songs in a row (Born To Be My Baby and It's My Life)! However, I could see he was a little out of breath at one point! He signaled several people in the first rows during the song; let's say that he interacted immensely with the crowd! I also noticed the muscles of his thighs at a certain point when he turned around on stage and I told myself that even at his age, he was able to keep himself in shape, because I could see the shape of his muscles through his pants!

I decided to make a video of the end of It's My Life for Xavier so that he would be happy to see that his mom was really with Jon Bon Jovi during It's My Life! Oh what we do for our children!

We Weren't Born To Follow allowed us to catch our breath and it gave me the opportunity to take pictures again. I really understood the trick: if I want to have beautiful memories of songs where Jon goes around on stage, I make videos. If he is behind a guitar, it's time to take pictures!

Almost every time a song ended, I tried to take a sip of water from the soft water bag on my seat to rehydrate my vocal cords and catch my breath a little bit at the same time. Sandra was so hot, she fanned herself with her VIP laminate. Once when Jon was on our side, I saw him look at her and he gave her a nice teasing smile by pointing something lower than her face. I wondered if he had just pointed her boobs! haha At the end of the evening, she told me that he had pointed her VIP laminate and found it very funny that she was using it to cool herself down! Personally, I found the laminate a bit annoying around my neck, especially since I already had my camera that was pulling my neck down, so I put it in my tank top. It didn't show and furthermore, it didn't hide the message in front of my tank top!

We were quite squeezed with the people beside us and unlike in New Jersey, the security guards, who were sitting with their back facing the stage on a chair in the big gap between the first and second rows, didn't allow people to get out of their rows except for very brief moments. There were green lines on the floor and they had probably been told that people had to stay inside these lines in the three sections of the floor. We were pretty close to one another during the whole evening!

Jon had fun walking around the stage again during I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. During the solo, he even shook his buttocks with his back turned on us just to make us scream. He was on the right on the stage. When he came back to the center, he looked at the band members and said, "I'm an old man to be shaking my booty like this..." and he started shaking his butt again. He's really teasing when he wants to and additionally, he knows that it works, because women were shouting! He made another comment that I didn't understand. He then asked people to clap in our hands and we obeyed! I was making a video, but I managed to turn around to see how people were doing it! I saw people in the blue seats completely up high in the other end of the rink with their hands in the air. It was so great! Jon really seemed to be having fun on stage during that song; he danced, he jumped, he did jumping jacks, he smiled, he went to see the members of his band, he encouraged them to give all they had, etc.

When I'll Sleep When I'm Dead was about to finish, I decided, since I was making a video, to lower my camera up to my feet to remember how close I was to the stage that night!!

When Keep The Faith started, I knew that Jon would soon be on the platform in the crowd. There was a lot of excitement in our section. Eve tried to move to the right to wait for Jon as he would make his way along the boards after the song. However, she came back very quickly with a disappointed face. When I saw her, I realized that a security guard had to have told her to go back to her place! It was so unfortunate, especially since there was plenty of room and she was front row!! Several people seemed to have left their seats behind us and to our left, but they had probably left by using the left part of the floor. The excuse of having to go to the restrooms at the other end of the rink must have been used several times at this moment!!

While the Bell Centre was plunged in the near darkness after Keep The Faith, Jon poked his way through the crowd to the platform in the red seats almost at the other end of the Bell Centre, as he is used to do. Without any surprise for those who keep themselves informed a little bit, he began to sing Amen while his colleagues were on stage. People were totally excited in the section where Jon was, everyone got a little closer to each other to see Jon properly and closely! I tried to take pictures so I could share them later in case someone recognized themselves. The task was not easy, because I was further away from the platform than in New Jersey! I also showed some pictures to Sandra telling her that Jon's dark blue jacket oddly looked so pale in the pictures while it was quite dark with my bare eyes! I took pictures of John Shanks and Phil X who were in the middle of the stage in front of me and Phil saw that I was taking pictures of them, so he made a funny face with his eyes wide open! haha

The band then played Bed Of Roses. I was glad to hear it, even though I knew that Jon wouldn't be close to me. Instead of making a video of Jon at the other end of the room, I decided to make a movie of what was happening on stage, because clearly, the other band members must feel well abandoned by Jon and by the fans who turn their back to them! It was one of the few times I saw David play piano on Bed Of Roses on stage! It's crazy how when you make an effort to see the usual things from another angle, you can still discover things that you had never discovered before! The crowd sang so loudly during the song, it was crazy! It's true that the song had made quite an impression on the "combat des clips" (clip fight) at Musique Plus in 1993 when I discovered the band; there must have been a few people there that night who had, at the time, called Musique Plus every Friday to make the video win throughout a whole year!! I still made a video of Jon starting at the second part of the first verse, to have a memory. There are already many who will have memories judging by the amount of cellular phones that were pointed at Jon again. At go, everyone hid their faces behind their cellular phones! haha

Jon touched the hands of several people in the bleachers from the platform, but he also walked quite a bit in a row to his left. I don't really understand how he does this, because there is not so much room to walk while people are at their seats, but well. A woman managed to give him a hug if I remember well. He even stopped at a few people to take selfies with them and gave a little kiss on a woman's cheek. And then, he made his way down and stepped on the boards, triggering an avalanche of screams in the audience, since more people could see him. He walked for a while on the boards while continuing to sing. I saw Matt's arm in the air and Jon used it to avoid losing his balance. After the last chorus, he stepped down the boards and slowly made his way to the stage. He didn't dance with anyone. When he came back on stage to finish the song, the woman behind me lost her patience. I heard her say: "What the heck, the song is over!" I think she liked it a lot and saw that Jon had sung it away from the stage. She was clearly unaware of how things were done on this tour, because Bed Of Roses has not been played on stage since the beginning of the tour if I remember correctly!

I sang with everything I had during Lay Your Hands On Me and at the end of the song, Jon introduced all the band members. Tico, Phil X and David are the ones who received the most shouts and applause.

I would have liked to hear something other than God Bless This Mess, but hey, Jon was about twenty feet from me, there was not much that would have bothered me! As I have already told many people, Jon could sing the alphabet for an hour and I would be happy!

A wonderful surprise awaited us after God Bless This Mess, I have a hard time believing that it really happened! At the first notes of Captain Crash And The Queen Beauty From Mars, Sandra and I looked at each other with astonishment! We had just talked about it during the afternoon by saying that it was really the good old days when we heard it at each show and that me, her, Maryse and Genevieve used to sway our arms in the air to the beat!! I quickly looked behind me and I saw Maryse a few rows behind us who already had her arms above her head! Yeah!! I started to sway my arms to the beat too. I looked to my right to align myself with Sandra and SK who also had their arms in the air (Sandra was making a video, so she had just one arm over her head) to go to the same side as them. On a few occasions, Jon invited people to do the same thing as us, making his guitar go the same way as we were swaying our arms. I consider this moment completely sublime each time, it brings me back fifteen years in the past, as if time was frozen. My arms and shoulders started to hurt toward the end, but I never stopped! I hadn't worked out in the last year to strengthen my arms for nothing, it had to be used at some point!

I don't remember during which song, but Phil X decided to throw some guitar picks in the crowd. He's alos good at throwing them far away! I wondered if he was going to have enough for him!

We sang so loud on Bad Medicine, it was just crazy! It seemed like Jon didn't want to finish it because he made us sing again and again. I knew it was the last song before the encores and I knew the show was coming to an end, unfortunately. I couldn't believe the pleasure I had to be where I was, a few meters from the band I grew up with and with which I'm still so happy every time!

People went crazy in the Bell Centre while we were in the dark. I took the opportunity to let out never-ending screams. I had fun trying to find out how long I could scream every time I inhaled to scream again. The "olé olé olé olé" specific to Montreal were not heard, unfortunately, but people shouted and applauded a lot. I also took the opportunity to drink water to get enough voice for the rest of the show. The band took time to return on stage, I didn't understand why. I was hoping to have a surprise, we were in Montreal after all! I also noticed that the faint blue lights that were on made many colors fluorescent, including our orange VIP package bracelets and all the white shirts I could see in the audience. I noticed such a visual effect for the first time!

I didn't believe my ears when I heard the first notes of the first song of the encores. My brain made the connections immediately to recognize the song, but in my heart, I thought it was impossible. THESE DAYS!!!!! THESE DAYS!!!!! In my head, it had been quite some time since I had heard it in concert! And following a subsequent search, I think the last time I heard Jon sing it (because Richie had sung it in the past) was in August 1995!! I had seen some banners with the name of the song being shown by some people in the stands and on the floor at the beginning of the show. I really feel that's what gave Jon the idea to play it, because on the original setlist that Eve got at the end of the show, it was Dry County that was scheduled! Let's say that I like Dry County, but that night, I enjoyed hearing These Days more! I didn't take any chance, I started making a video of it, still with just one hand to be able to use my eyes to enjoy it, because it has not really been played often in recent years!

The band began These Days almost acoustically. It was so beautiful, I was experiencing intense emotions inside me. A mix of extreme joy mixed with incredible nostalgia. The lyrics "There ain't nobody left but these days" really spoke to me! I found myself with eyes filled with tears, I couldn't even sing anymore since I was choking on my emotions. At this point, I realized that we were with Bon Jovi at the Bell Centre. We were together and that was all that mattered. "There ain't nobody left but these days." This song is timeless, the lyrics are twenty years old, but they are still so up to date. What a nice gift from the band, I only have gratitude for Jon who made the decision to play it! I stopped making a video after the first chorus so I could enjoy it even more. I just wanted to cry so much because I was happy. I was hoping Jon wouldn't look too much in my direction, because I must have not smiled too much, I was trying to swallow back my tears (still, I cannot hold them in while writing these lines). Jon seemed so happy to please us, he couldn't stop smiling during the song.

I was still on my cloud after These Days, but I still heard Jon make a countdown until 1982. I knew Runaway was coming. I probably liked it more than in the past because of the euphoria caused by These Days. I don't know why I always find myself pressing my record button to make a video during Runaway, because it's far from being my favorite, but I almost always have a little video. I don't try to understand the logic behind this!!

I realized during the encores that I was starting to have a sore neck by throwing my head back to see on stage! I was hoping I wouldn't be too sore the next day because I would be even closer! I then had vague memories of New Jersey when I had had a sore neck the day after the show!

Jon didn't make us sing on Wanted Dead Or Alive even though the crowd was singing loudly! I was hoping there were other songs before Livin' On A Prayer after Wanted Dead Or Alive, but no, when I heard the first notes of the last song, a little nostalgia took a hold of me. It was already finished! In my head, I could never have better tickets than these ones!! It had been an out-of-this world experience to be right there in front of Jon! I saw Sandra dial her mother's phone number at the beginning, as she usually does. I once again let out all the energy I had left (or almost) to sing during Livin' On A Prayer. People were singing so loudly in the audience! Toward the end of the song, I saw Jon and John Shanks look at each other and I saw John Shanks let out a big and short "WOW!" from his mouth, as if he didn't believe his eyes and ears to see us so noisy. Jon just nodded, as if to say: "Yes, I know, it's really wow, isn't it? I told you so!"

When the band took a bow, Jon had already removed his ear plugs, so I knew we wouldn't have any surprises after Livin' On A Prayer that night. I also saw that SK seemed already gone. She had told us that she would leave before the lights turned back on to go back to her hotel before the madness triggered by the other fans coming out of the amphitheater. She had confirmed to us before the show that she was serious when she told us about her intention to leave us her VIP chair.

When the lights turned back on and some background music was heard in the Bell Centre, I stepped down from my cloud. It was really finished, but at least, there was still the next day to come! My ears were buzzing, but my heart was filled with an incredible sense of inner peace. Phew! What an experience!

At least two security guards came to untie the fasteners of our VIP chairs so we could leave with them. I decided to leave my seat where all my personal things were still in order to go monitor SK's chair to bring it back home. I was afraid that if I left it unattended, someone else would leave with it! There were only VIP chairs in places where people had paid a lot of money for the right to have one, among other things! The woman who removed the fasteners from SK's chair told me it was mine and I told her that this one was to a friend who gave it to me. And then a rather emotional discussion started while the woman told me that she couldn't let me go with two chairs and that only people with VIP bracelets could return with a single chair. Even if I told her that my friend was gone and that I had no way to join her, she didn't want to understand anything. She continued to remove the fasteners from the other chairs while continuing to argue with me and when she arrived at my real chair, she asked Sandra to whom were the belongings on the chair. I arrived with SK's chair in my hands and explained that this one was mine and the one I held in my hands was my friend's. I started to freak out, I was almost on the verge of tears. I explained to her that no one with a VIP bracelet would come to pick up SK's chair, that my friend was gone and left it to me! Finally, the woman felt pity for me and let me have it exceptionally, as if she were doing me a favor!

We said goodbye to a few people before leaving. Security wanted us to leave the place quickly. Patrizia came to say goodbye me and told me we would see each other the next day. When I wanted to leave, I got tangled in my VIP laminate, my purse, my camera and my red open shirt... I was so exhausted from my evening that I almost strangled myself in the process of placing everything around my neck! It takes an engineer to do that! (I'm happy to have made you laugh, Sandra, by writing this in my review, because if you had seen me getting out of my awkward position, you would surely have said a similar sentence!!)

Walking around with two folding VIP chairs was harder than I thought! I didn't want to hurt anyone by walking to the back of the room. I'm not sure how we got there, but we went through a door that led us to a concrete staircase without having to face the entire Bell Centre's crowd through the "normal" doors. By an incredible coincidence to go through an almost deserted passageway, we saw the woman who was outraged not to be "VIP" before the show, and her gang of friends. They all seemed under the influence of alcohol and sang out of tune. The woman we had seen before started talking by telling her friends that she wanted to get a chair too, by pointing at us. She was talking to herself...

"Why don't I have a chair?"

"How come they leave with the chairs?"

"I want a chair too!"

Sandra and I looked at each other, a little discouraged, but we didn't speak to avoid putting oil on the fire. It wasn't worth it... My arms were getting really tired to carry my two chairs up a staircase after an intense Bon Jovi show, I couldn't wait to get outside on a flat surface!

Anyway, transporting chairs with Bon Jovi written on it in the streets of Montreal gets people talking!! I cannot count the number of people who have commented about it.

"What are they doing?"

"What are these chairs?"

"How come they leave with their chairs?"

Hey, friends! IT'S WITH VIP PACKAGES!! VERY LIMITED!! VERY VERY EXPENSIVE!! AT THAT PRICE, I HOPE TO LEAVE WITH MY CHAIR!! Obviously, I was screaming all of this in my head, it was out of the question to start a debate if I wanted to get to the car someday! In fact, Sandra and I laughed a bit to have people talking so much about our chairs!!

We got relatively quickly to the parking lot. A guy coming back from the show was afraid for the safety of pedestrians and invited everyone to use the elevator instead of walking in the parking lot. Sandra and I didn't see the problem, no one entered the parking lot with their car, everyone was leaving from there! And we were so close to the exit, we walked to the car that was a few meters from the entrance!

We had to face heavy traffic coming out of the parking lot, because someone asked us to turn right, directing us toward the Bell Centre where everyone was coming out and walked in the streets! After surviving the traffic and returning to the South Shore, we arrived at Sandra's house. When I left her house, I told myself that the next morning would be brutal with the morning routine to send Charles to school and Xavier to the daycare!

When I got home, I had to be very careful not to wake anyone with the two folding chairs that I was bringing back with me! I managed to put them in the house without dropping them or banging them on the walls or on the ground, a real miracle since I was so tired! I finally went to bed at around 1ham, completely exhausted!

Here is a picture of the chairs... Not bad, huh?! I'm really happy to have two, thanks to SK who made it possible!!

VIP chairs from the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 17, 2018)

Day 2 - The extreme privilege of being front row for the last show of the tour

Venue: Bell Centre
Ticket: Floor, Row D, Seat 16
Pictures: Available
Videos: Available

Six o'clock in the morning came very quickly! I was under the impression that I didn't really sleep! I always have a disturbed sleep when I come back from a Bon Jovi show, because my ears are buzzing, I have lots of images that run through my head when my eyes are closed, my muscles are sore and I'm usually a little dehydrated. My eyes were a little stuck when I woke up, but Charles and Xavier were quick to wake up properly with their morning energy!

I made sure Charles was ready for school at the usual time, but I took more time with Xavier. I had an appointment with my physiotherapist (I'm treated for a herniated disc and right shoulder problems) at 9h30am and the clinic is not too far from the Canadian Space Agency. It wasn't worth to drive Xavier too early and be caught waiting for my appointment. I had taken a day's vacation as I usually do when there are two shows in two nights in Montreal. I was able to upload my pictures and videos and start sorting my best pictures to share them on Facebook after putting a copyright on it.

I left home at around 8h30am with Xavier to drive him to the daycare and go to my appointment afterwards. During my physiotherapy appointment, I stayed a little bit on my back on the treatment table and when I had to turn around, it was as if I were encrusted in the material of the table; I was no longer able to move! I got afraid since my body was letting go and we were just in the morning!

I didn't really feel like continuing my show review, I was much more interested in all of my friends' posts who had attended the show the previous day and prepare for the front row experience. I was a little torn inside; in a way, I knew that I had always wanted to live the front row experience at the Bell Centre. In another way, I was wondering how I would appreciate more the front row tickets five seats from the middle on the floor than my second row tickets dead center from the previous day. In my head, the bar was very high and honestly, I was a little afraid of being disappointed! On the other hand, when Teresa wrote to Sandra and me, wishing us a good evening in the front row and remembering how special it would be to attend the last show of the tour from the front row, I told myself that it shouldn't be so bad!

I sent a message to SK in the morning asking her if she wanted to go to her VIP party or if she wanted to have dinner with us at our usual Italian restaurant. I left her the choice without putting pressure on her. She declined the offer by writing to me that she preferred enjoying her last VIP package of the tour. Sandra and I understood very well, because we would have done the same thing if we had been in the same situation!

At the last minute, I decided to make a small banner on a big neon pink sheet that was left at home after I heard the song Scars On This Guitar in the car and cried over the lyrics. I intended to draw Jon's attention and the other band members with the banner for no particular purpose; only to tell them how they've been an integral part of my life. I was so emotional that day because of the magic of the previous night's show! I thought that it's often the last-minute banners that are most noticed. I once again self-congratulated myself for having written my letters almost perfectly with a permanent marker on the cardboard without anything other than pencil lines beforehand (without a ruler)!

Marie-Hélène Cyr's banner for the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)

When I ate my lunch, I suffered from unusual dizziness. I was sitting at the table and everything started to turn around me suddenly. The moment may have lasted a second or two, but I didn't like it. Let's say that I waited a little before getting up and I was thinking positively that it was only a glitch of my body caused by my being tired. I didn't have any further dizziness afterwards, phew!

I decided to wear another tank top with my famous message about the number of times I listened to Bed Of Roses, but with the "Jon I'd like a dance" on top rather than at the bottom like the previous day. I knew it wouldn't happen again tonight, unless there was a big miracle, but hey, it was more for Jon to make the connection in his head that I was the same person than anything else! I promised myself to make other tank tops during a subsequent tour without the request to Jon. I chose to wear the same pants as in New Jersey and the first show in Toronto in 2013, instead of wearing leggings with pockets, to give me a more classic look. The ones I wore in New Jersey are pants that look like leggings, but they are much thicker. I decided to wear the same flat closed shoes as those of the previous day for maximum comfort. We agree that I was front row, I really didn't need high heels!

I left home at around 3h45pm like the previous day to go to Sandra's house. It's always a bit special to ring at her door two days in a row, because that means our trip is not over! Her mother answered the door and announced me to Sandra who was ready anyway. While waiting for her to move her car forward to be able to get in on the passenger side, I felt a certain physical and mental fatigue. Whenever there are two shows in two days, I always wonder how I will survive. Sandra had not slept much either, but she had a lot more energy than me, as she danced in her seat during the catchy Bon Jovi songs that played in her car. I was telling myself (and I was telling her) that I preferred keeping my energy for the concert!

Among other things, we talked about some songs that the band had not played for a while. Among them, there was Because We Can who is excellent in concert and which had almost not played during this tour. Sandra told me that a city recently also had I'd Die For You! Wow, it had been a long time since I heard this song live!!

We caught a lot of traffic to reach the Champlain Bridge, even more so than the previous day, but when we got to Montreal, there was a little less traffic than the day before. Certainly we avoided the Bell Centre area this time, as we had planned to park at the Sheraton only a few blocks from the Bell Centre. On the way to the Sheraton, while we were a bit in the traffic, I began to question myself about something that Jon has already said in an interview that touring life is not easy. I remember him saying that at one point he's surrounded by screaming maniacs and that twenty minutes later he's in total silence of his hotel room. But how could the band be at their hotel so quickly after a show?! Sandra had already heard that sometimes, big stars can hire paramedics to "get away" from an arena without being seen. Um... It's possible...

When we arrived at the Sheraton, there were already quite a few people in the parking lot, but we found a nice spot in a corner.

We had the idea of going to the restaurant called Cibo & Vino on Stanley Street just steps away from the Sheraton. This restaurant became a tradition for Sandra and me when we didn't have a VIP package in the past. The service was excellent, the food was very good and we could eat fairly quickly, even during show nights at the Bell Centre. We were walking relatively fast to get to the restaurant before the crowd; the restaurant was usually empty around 5h-5h30pm, but it would fill up quickly after that time and it was almost 5h30pm. Sandra slowed down as she arrived in front of a business facade plastered with white sheets and I slowed down too.

— Marie? It's here, itsn't it?
— No, it's over there... Look at the sign of the Italian restaurant!
— No, it's here.

We stopped suddenly. Honestly, I couldn't remember the name of the restaurant and I was sure it was a little further where another Italian restaurant was located.

— Well, come on, I can't believe it, I said, understanding nothing.
— Marie, I'm sure it's here, Sandra replied, showing me the facade plastered with white sheets.
— It's closed?!
— It seems so...
— Oh no!!!! What do we do?
— I don't know.

I was really disappointed that the restaurant seemed closed, although I could hardly believe it. Looking a little higher, I saw the Cibo & Vino banner and I realized that the restaurant was closed at this address. Oh no!! We debated a little bit about where we would go for dinner, because honestly, our plan were just changed from having a quiet, traditional dinner before a Bon Jovi show! We went to look at a menu of another Italian restaurant just before Cibo & Vino. We finally entered the restaurant. The person who came to us asked us if we had a reservation. When we answered negatively, the man went to ask his manager and came back telling us that there was no place for us before 6h45-7hpm!! No way we would wait until this time!

On my way back to the street, I saw a Subway sign on a building that was back to us and which frontage was on Peel Street. We decided to go there. I took a six-inch grilled chicken sub combo and Sandra took a twelve-inch veggie without the combo. I couldn't believe that Sandra, who usually has a very small appetite, was taking a twelve-inch sub!! And she ate it all! I still ate faster than she and I was waiting for her peacefully, with my legs crossed. One of my feet was sticking out of the table. Sandra saw a man walking in sandals and socks and she commented that this style was not very pretty. I don't know why the conversation turned to my flesh-colored nylon stockings that I was wearing. She didn't think I was wearing stockings in my shoes. So I removed my left shoe and showed her my stocking that could be seen easily at the tip of my foot. When I put my shoe back on, Sandra looked at it longer than I expected.

— Marie, your sole is getting off...
— What are you talking about?!

I removed my shoe a second time and showed her that my insole was still in place.

— No no, Marie, outside!

When I looked at my shoe, I saw that my sole was coming off at the tip of my shoe! When I touched it, I realized that it was loose up to the third of the shoe! Oh boy!!! It would have taken little to lose it if I got stuck in a manhole! I quickly looked at my other shoe and saw that my other sole was even more loose than the left shoe! Here is a picture I took of my shoes after coming back home:

Marie-Hélène Cyr's ruined shoes before the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)

I swear I didn't realize that my soles were so loose! My heart started beating faster in my chest. I was going to a Bon Jovi show in the front row with ruined shoes!!

— Shit, I cannot go to the show with that!!!
— Well, what do you want to do?
— We still have time to go shopping... I said while looking at my watch.

It was only a little past 6hpm and the Bell Centre doors opened at 6h3 pm. We had to pick up our tickets at the box office, but it was open until 9hpm, long after the show would start. So we had time! I started looking on Google for shoe stores near where we were. I didn't realize we were so near downtown. In my head, I thought that if I could find a Naturalizer store, it would be perfect! It's the only shoe store that has shoes that are large enough for my feet. Other stores have shoes that always hurt my toes. I then saw that there was one 400 meters from where we were! I was lucky, 400 meters, it was an easy walking distance in a reasonable time! It seemed to be at the Eaton Center according to the map. I really didn't realize we were so close!

Sandra decided to go to the restrooms before leaving the restaurant; I would personally wait to be at the Bell Centre. Buying my shoes was my priority right now and we didn't have a minute to lose! I even suggested to Sandra to go alone if she didn't want to walk so much. She had just told me that it would take us 15 minutes to walk 400 meters! What?! No, not with me! A few minutes of walking were enough for me to do this distance usually. I think she was afraid of the speed at which I would walk, but she decided to follow me anyway!

I never walked that fast on the streets of Montreal! We came by an Aldo store on our way and I decided to enter just in case I would find something that would be comfortable and wide enough. While going around quickly, I saw that the sandals were in the spotlight in the store and that high heels were also very popular! No, that was not what I was looking for! It also tempted me to go to Sports Expert, but hey, I wanted something a little more classy than the shoes we usually find there! We continued our journey to the Eaton Center and quickly entered.

We had a bit of trouble finding the Naturalizer store with the work in progress in the mall and it felt like an eternity before I got to the store! There were not many customers in the store (unlike at Aldo where there were several people there), but all the assistants were busy with clients... I started to look and saw shoes similar to the ones I was wearing. As soon as an assistant freed herself up, she came to see me. I explained to her the urgency of finding new shoes to replace those I had in my feet. I wanted pretty much the same model: flat and comfortable. She left quickly to get me my size of the first model that I had seen. Sandra sat on a small bench, a little overwhelmed by the events. We were really shopping for shoes! hahaha

I tried two sizes, because size 8.5 seemed a little small, but size 9 seemed a little big. The assistant suggested me to go with the smaller ones, because the shoes would expand in width over time, since my big toe seemed to arrive at the right place in the shoe. I felt that there was a part of the right shoe that wanted to rub on the outside of my foot and I was a little worried to hurt myself during the concert. I bought them anyway. It was 6h25pm when I paid, my new shoes in my feet. Sandra couldn't say that I had taken my time, we left the Subway a little after 6hpm! The assistant wanted to know if I wanted to keep the old shoes. Why not? Maybe I'll have them repaired... So I left the store with my new shoes, very relieved to have made the decision to go shopping!

I was a little afraid of ending up getting my right foot hurt, so I asked Sandra to stop at Jean Coutu which was on our way out from the Eaton Centre by the door where we had entered. I chose to buy gel heel liners that I could easily slip into my shoe if the leather rubbed my foot too much during the show. It was 6h29pm when I paid at Jean Coutu. I was amazed by my shopping efficiency that night!

We were still laughing about our adventures since we had arrived in Montreal when we got to Sainte-Catherine Street. We went back on our path so we could stop at the Sheraton's parking lot to drop my bag with my old shoes in Sandra's car trunk. She took the opportunity to get a bottle of water she planned on bringing with her in the Bell Centre without having it confiscated. She knew the staff would search purses, so we'd have to trick security by slipping it somewhere else, since we didn't have our big winter coats. I still had mine that I had brought from home in my hands since we arrived in Montreal. I decided to bring my leather coat with me that night, because it was supposed to be a little colder than the previous night after the show. I had my burgundy open shirt that I had worn when I met Jon for the second time in Toronto in 2013, but I thought that a coat would probably not be too much that night. This coat doesn't contain any inside pockets, so I couldn't hide my bottle of water in my coat. After a little creative brainstorm, we came to a nearly-perfect plan that we would execute just before entering the Bell Centre.

When we arrived at the arena, we headed to the ticket office. Strangely, there were still some scalpers who wanted to sell tickets. The show wasn't sold out again that night, they must have not made a lot of money!

I was the one who had bought the tickets, so I had to go and get them. A woman working at the Bell Centre asked me to get ready to show a photo ID card and the credit card with which I had bought the tickets to speed up the process. Fortunately, there was no waiting, a clerk became available when both cards were out.

I hate picking up tickets at a box office and seeing the person behind the window disappear and take time to come back after checking my identity. I'm always afraid that there's an error in their system. We were front row that night, that increased the stress level to pick up the tickets! Finally, the woman came back with an envelope and two tickets! Whew! She asked me to sign the envelope and gave us our tickets. She made a comment about my camera by saying that they wouldn't allow me to get into the Bell Centre with it. Come on, you're kidding right, I've been entering the Bell Centre with this camera for eight years! I mentioned to her that the instructions indicated that we could bring a camera without a detachable lens and that mine wasn't detachable. I even pulled on the lens to show her. She let us go immediately after. I realized by watching our tickets that the date was May 18, 2018 rather than April 5, 2018. The fan club tickets without VIP packages were also not printed in advance!

We executed our almost infallible plan to get our bottle of water into the Bell Centre and we moved forward. We entered through the main gate of the Bell Centre, a little unusual for us! A security woman asked me if my camera had a detachable lens. Come on, what was the obsession with my camera?! I never got any questions because of it and two people had been asking questions about it in five minutes! I showed her that it didn't have a detachable lens and that satisfied her. She scanned my ticket, asked me to show her the contents of my purse and I headed toward the metal detector again. I had to put my purse (which I had closed) and my camera on a small table while I was going through the metal detector. I asked the security guard if I had to remove my coat that contained a metal zipper. He told me to keep it and move forward, in the case where I would be OK. Indeed, the detector emitted no sound, so I was OK. I saw at the same time that Sandra had to open her vest to show that she didn't hide anything in it, but they didn't ask me anything with my coat that was open. I then quickly picked up my belongings from the small table and I joined Sandra who had already finished.

We concluded that it was now time to get rid of our bottles of water from where we had placed them and we were in luck, we were very close to a section with floor access! Sandra wanted to go see a merchandise booth near where we were which was not too busy. She was still looking for a reusable Bon Jovi bag, without any luck once again. We then headed for the stairs of the nearest section with floor access. After showing our tickets to the woman who was checking that we were at the right place, we went down the stairs until we reached the floor and we headed for the restrooms at the back of the floor, the same as the previous night. We were able to put the bottles of water in Sandra's purse and we decided to go to the restroom since we were there!

I had a little thought for Jon when I thoroughly washed my hands after getting out of my restroom booth. A woman headed to the sink at the same time as me and she sang a part of the chorus of It's My Life. Instead of singing "I ain't gonna live forever", she sang "I don't wanna live forever". I thought she didn't understand the message behind the song to slaughter the lyrics like that! Anyway, I took the opportunity, while I my hands were clean, to put drops in my eyes again to keep my contact lenses well hydrated.

When I got out of the restrooms and while I waited for Sandra, I saw Eve in the hallway. I then said hello to her and asked her if I could see the tattoo with the image of the song Blame It On The Love Of Rock And Roll she had spoken to me about on Facebook the previous day. She showed it to me right away! I also told her that I had seen pictures of her working out on a treadmill at the hotel she was staying at. I inquired as to when her half marathon was for which she was training. We were in a running conversation when Sandra came out of the restrooms. We said goodbye to Eve again and walked to the front of the floor to get to our seats. Sandra wanted to see the opening act, that is Travis Cormier, a winner of the show called La Voix, who would go on stage. In fact, and I know I might hurt some people's feelings, I would have been fine without seeing Travis. I didn't change my mind about opening acts...

A man asked us for our tickets, widened his eyes when he saw where we would be and started giving us instructions on how to get there. I mentioned that we were there the previous day and that we knew where we were going!!

While heading toward the front row, we saw Teresa who was in the fourth row with her two friends from the previous evening. We stopped to say hello to her, give her a hug and kisses on the cheek. She repeated to us to have fun that night in the front row. We had "normal" Bell Centre red chairs, since we didn't have a VIP package. I had the ticket to Sandra's left again and we had the second and third seats in the center section of the floor, to the left of the center when looking toward the stage. I also quickly noticed that my neighbor on my left would be Isabelle Legault, the same one whom we met in 2013 at several Bon Jovi shows in Toronto and Montreal. She had been second row to our left the previous day. It was such a coincidence!

Sandra and I, not being used to being front row, started to wonder if we were going to have priority at the barricade in front of our seats or if we were going to have to fight all night with people further away on the sides. While we were wondering, a security guard asked us for our tickets to confirm if we were front row. He then passed us a white bracelet with yellow smileys around the wrist to identify us to the other security guards as people who had business in the front row. At the same time, we asked him the question that had just come to our minds and he confirmed that we had the priority at the barricade in front of our seats all night long. If we left our spot momentarily, someone further in the front row could come closer, but as soon as we would come back, the person had to return to his/her place. He mentioned to us that nonetheless, in the front row, we had a little more latitude to walk around, given the space between the barricade and the front row seats.

I saw SK on the stage at one point; she was doing her backstage visit, her last of the tour. She was looking a little in the first few rows and she was holding something in her hand. Sandra immediately pointed out to me that it was a drum top! She had finally won the draw a little earlier at the VIP party! I was so happy for her! When she finished her visit, she appeared on our side and we were able to congratulate her. She seemed disappointed and we quickly understood why when she showed us her prize. The top was not autographed by Tico! Oh no!! SK stayed to chat with us a bit before going to her front row seat, dead center, a few seats from ours.

Sandra and I tried to take selfies at the barricade and we had a hard time doing it. Up until Sandra took her cellular phone (I was trying with my cellular phone at first) and she took a good one (see the picture on the left below)! After the opening act, Isabelle asked me to take pictures of her at the barricade with Jon's microphone stand in the background and we asked her to do the same thing afterwards (see the one on the right).

Marie-Hélène Cyr and Sandra Coussa front row before the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)
Marie-Hélène Cyr and Sandra Coussa front row before the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)

Patrizia, the woman who had recognized me by my tank top the previous day, came back to say hello to me. She had tickets in the first rows of the floor on the left. I find it really cool when people go through the trouble of coming to see me like that to say hello, I cannot say it enough!

At 7h30pm, Travis Cormier got on stage; Sandra and I were sitting at our seats. I decided to take some pictures for fun, but Travis was always walking in the dark rather than in the stage lights. It was a bit odd to see him do that... Honestly, there were a lot of people applauding and Isabelle made me notice that she had never seen an opening act being so much applauded at a Bon Jovi show. I must say that people really applauded Nickelback at Parc Jean-Drapeau in 2006, so I don't know if I was ready to say the same thing as Isabelle... Regardless, I had rarely heard such excitement in the Bell Centre for an opening act, actually! In short, several people around us didn't care to the show and did like me: they were on their cellular phone...

At around 7h45pm, about five minutes before Travis finished, Sandra told me it would be a good time to go to the restroomsone last time before Bon Jovi. After checking with Isabelle that she would be watching my coat and open shirt on my seat, we headed to the back of the floor to proceed. We got back to our seats and that's when we started taking pictures with Jon's microphone stand. I was supposed to go see Albena, a fan I met in 2013 when she had tickets closer to the stage. She had written to me the previous day to tell me that she would be there both evenings with tickets in the stands. On the other hand, I was a little afraid of losing my spot in the front row and I remained wisely at my seat, but I saw her from where I was (she had told me where exactly her seat was).

SK came to talk to us again before the show and even sat on Isabelle's seat (she was already standing at the barricade in front of her seat). Sandra took the opportunity to make a selfie of us three that I love! We don't see each other at the barricade, but hey, I think it represents us well.

Sandra Coussa, SK and Marie-Hélène Cyr in the front row before the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)

I started my setup for the show with my soft water bag filled with the bottle of water that Sandra had put in her purse, the Who Says You Can't Go Home banner and the little banner that I had made for the concert of the evening. My purse was suspended by its strap on the seat, my open shirt was put between the seat and the strap and my coat was on the back of the chair. Since there was a big gap between the barricade and my seat, I decided to bring my water and both folded banners at the barricade. It would help me to know if I deviated from one side or the other during the show, without having to turn around.

At 8h20pm, Maryse and Geneviève (yes, Maryse's acolyte...) contacted us one after the other by text message (Maryse contacted Sandra, Genevieve contacted me) to tell us that we had nice seats. They were in section 221 at the other end of the rink, but they had spotted us from above! When I turned around, I could see someone in this section who was waving at us with hands in the air. I don't know which one of them it was, but we waved back! It's always funny to do this in such a big place, when you can hardly see the person!

Sandra and I were talking, standing at the barricade, when we saw Everett and another band member (I don't remember if it was Hugh, John Shanks or David...) coming on stage and starting to play music. WHAT?! What was this all about? The lights were brightly shining in the Bell Centre and the band were getting on stage?! Why the curtain that projected images before the beginning of This House Is Not For Sale wasn't coming down? Sandra, Isabelle and I were really puzzled, especially since we saw all the other band members come on stage one after the other and begin playing... Until we recognized the beginning of I'll Sleep When I'm Dead!

But what was happening in the Bell Centre?! We were already clapping and dancing without understanding what was going on. We heard Jon start singing, but he wasn't on stage! We were totally confused and so were the people around us. But where was he?! And then, I had the idea to look behind me to see excitement at the back of the floor! Jon had decided to begin the show at the back of the floor!!! We could see people getting excited like a wave toward us. At first, Sandra and I weren't sure if Jon was going along the boards or in the passageway near our seats. We concluded that he had to be along the boards. That was it, Jon was going to pass near us!! Isabelle and Sandra ran to the left, where several other people were already. I followed them closely and there was only one person between me and the aisle. Would I be touching Jon at least once in the tour? The lights in the Bell Centre were still fully turned on and Jon was making his way to the stage while singing. When he came beside us, he started running toward the back of the stage and didn't touch anyone in the process. The lights went out, the spotlights turned on and Jon appeared on the stage to continue the song.

We ran to return to our seats, not to miss the show! That's when Isabelle said to me: "No no. Tonight, we're getting *A* show!" It was clear that Jon had decided to do things differently and that the evening was full of surprises, unlike all other shows of the tour! Isabelle commented about how she wondered if the curtain was still working and if it had forced Jon to change the beginning of the show because of the curtain! We could see it, it was folded above us. It was the first time I saw it out of the three shows I attended!

Anyway, the energy that inhabited us, Isabelle and I, when we returned to our seats, was captured on camera. Nearly two weeks after the show, Bon Jovi began posting videos to talk about the tour that had just ended. A big surprise was awaiting when Teresa contacted me to tell me that Isabelle and I had made it in the video!! Huh?! What?! I shook like a leaf for an hour after seeing the video in question. I can really see myself from 0:19 to 0:21 with my white tank top and black text aimed at Jon! This is the first time I see myself in an official Bon Jovi video!!

Anyway, after thinking about it several days after the show, Jon probably took the backstage hallway to get to the back of the floor where he began walking toward the stage or he was waiting at the sound console and nobody really saw in advance... I never thought he would do that!

The setlist was:


24 songs were played from 8h30pm to 11hpm, supposedly the show with the most songs played (it remains to be confirmed, I didn't check the other lists). I have heard that bands have to pay extra for security past 11hpm at the Bell Centre. That's probably why the shows ended at 11hpm! Anyway, Bon Jovi did 2.5-hour shows both nights in Montreal!

I took 1271 pictures and made 9 videos; since I have my current camera, it was the smallest number of memories I created during an evening with Bon Jovi! I believe that I decided to make the most out of my being front row! I am still extremely proud of the results!

During I'll Sleep When I'm Dead, I jumped and my necklace with a pearl at the end hit me on my face and my anterior teeth. haha I took it off and I went quickly put it in my purse so I wouldn't lose it! I had not thought so much about the fact that it could fly in my face like that when I put it on in the afternoon!

Almost at the beginning of the concert, my fitbit on my wrist indicated to me with its vibrations that I was already at 10,000 steps in my day! I thought: "Already?!", but thinking back on it, it was possible with the trip we had made to go shopping earlier in the day!

Jon decided to finish us at the beginning of the concert by continuing with You Give Love A Bad Name. He really wanted to exhaust us for the last show of the tour!! I already had an energy I had never experienced before; I was jumping like a maniac for two songs at the same pace as Tico was banging on his drums. It was easier to jump at the barricade, because we could hold on to it with one or both hands and jump; an advantage we have nowhere else!!

I still decided to make a video of the end of You Give Love A Bad Name, because the crowd was singing so loud, it was just amazing!! I even deliberately stopped singing during some parts to be able to remember the crowd and not me singing off key!

It was quite weird to hear This House Is Not For Sale after You Give Love A Bad Name, especially without the curtain! I was really happy to have decided to make a video of the show introduction the previous day, in anticipation that I would like to enjoy my front-row experience to the fullest! I hope they will continue to play it in the future, because I find it really good live!

When Whole Lot Of Leavin' began, I told myself: "Argh, he could have chosen something else... It's not one of their biggest hits and we heard it yesterday!" But we got to witness a very unique and funny moment during the solo; I forgave Jon pretty quickly for choosing this song again that night! For a mysterious reason, Jon got closer to Phil X with a teasing smile. He suddenly took off the white X that Phil had put on his jacket on the right side of his chest and put it on his black shirt he was wearing underneath his blue jacket! Come on! Jon was in a strange state of mind to do that! He seemed so proud of his move, the crowd also reacted strongly. Here are two pictures that show Jon's crazy moment: on the left, we see Phil X wearing his X and on the right, we see Jon after he put it on his shirt!

Phil X still has his X on his vest on the right during the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)
Jon stole Phil X's X and put it on his shirt during the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)

It was my 28th Bon Jovi show and I had never seen Jon acting so funny and spontaneous. Jon even used his stolen X at the end of Whole Lot Of Leavin'. When he sang: "I've come back for you baby... Huh huh huh...", he added a "cross my heart" by crossing his finger on the X on his shirt. I don't know if it was a premeditated action or if he got the idea afterwards, but hey, it was really a nice moment!

Before going further into the show, I will answer a question that may burn your lips at this moment. Was my show in the second row better than the one in the front row? Hmm... Uh... not even comparable!! As much as I wasn't convinced that I would be happier in the front row after being in the second row dead center, as much I came out of this show thinking that if it were just up to me, I would never be anywhere but front row ever again!! It's special to be front row. It was an out-of-this-world experience. It's a big privilege actually. It's a bit like touching paradise for 2h30. In the front row, I often felt like the band was only performing for us. There was so much space between the first and second rows that I felt alone in the world with my neighbors on the sides and the band on stage. And sometimes, I would turn around and enjoy the incredible crowd that is the Bell Centre from the front row. It's an incredible feeling to realize that aside from people behind the stage, we had the rest of the Bell Centre behind us. I could hear screaming waves coming from behind and moving forward. Interacting with Jon and the other band members (besides Tico who is hidden by his drums) was so easy; almost too easy! In the front row, when Jon looks at you, you're even more convinced that he's looking at you because of the space between you and the person behind you. You can still hear Jon sing before his voice is amplified. You are constantly in the stage lighting, you sometimes have the spotlights located at the bottom of the stage directly on you (and receiving a projector in the face gets the temperature up a notch). You have an incredible energy, you're there, you're alive, you're just so happy to be among the 42 happy people to be front row in a crowd of 20,000 people (that's 0.21% of the most privileged of the room). And then, moreover, you have nobody, but really nobody, who blocks your direct view of the stage. Even David Bergman, whom I have seen several times between the stage and the barricade, is extremely discreet and doesn't block the view from the stage, even if he passes in front of you. Above all, front row is the best definition of the sentence "live in the present moment". Throughout the show, I was there, I wasn't thinking about anything else but the action that was going on in front of me and sometimes in my back when the crowd was shouting a lot.

After Lost Highway, Jon officially greeted the crowd and made a little speech of which I made a video. From what I could hear on top of the crowd screams (and mine!), here is what Jon said:

— Good evening Montreal, happy Friday night. And welcome to the very last stop of the This House Is Not For Sale tour.

People reacted strongly to this sentence, I saw people behind the stage applauding with their arms in the air. I also realized once again how lucky I was to be front row for this one-of-a-kind event.

— Were any of you guys here last night? Good, so then I can tell the same old jokes. Hum, I want to thank you all very much for this incredible tour, for this incredible life, and we decided to go out on the road to support this album, to celebrate a number of things, one of which is our 35th anniversary since our first record up to our latest record. Oh yeah, there was that little pit stop in Cleveland, Ohio so we could be inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. And hum, well, it's been a lot of love for us, so I just want to say thank you for that.

He then introduced Roller Coaster. I loved hearing it one last time live. I didn't made a video of it to appreciate it even more. I jumped so much during the song! In fact, I discovered, after a few songs, that it was easier for me to step back and jump on the small metal platform on which we have our feet at the barricade than when I was holding the barricade with my hand. I had more room and the risk was lower of stepping on Isabelle's or Sandra's feet if I unintendedly ever put my feet too much on the side. Additionally, I had to hold my camera in my hands so that it didn't wander everywhere and it was easier to be a step back to avoid bumping it unnecessarily on the barricade! During Roller Coaster, precisely, I spent the quieter verses at the barricade and when the chorus arrived, I took a step back and I let myself go crazy!

After Roller Coaster, I watched Jon on the stage taking a sip of water in the blue light and I heard sounds that I hadn't heard for a while. Isabelle recognized the next song at the same time as I did, and let out a big "Oh no!" at the same time that Jon started to sing "I do not want to be another wave in the ocean"... BECAUSE WE CAN!!!!! Finally!!! I didn't understand Isabelle's reaction, this song is so good in concert! Change was good! Sandra and I looked at each other in astonishment, as we had talked about it in the car when we headed to the Bell Centre!! I decided to make a video of part of it because I was afraid of not hearing it again live! I made a video of a part where Jon didn't make us clap in our hands at the beginning and towards the end of the song to be able to enjoy it to the fullest.

By the way, I made videos of parts of several songs, but rarely did I have the camera in front of my face. I was filming with my left hand at the level of my neck or my chest, depending on whether I wanted to lay my hand on the barricade for more stability. That's why sometimes, Jon goes out of the frame because I didn't always watch what I was filming!

The special effects were very limited, but the columns of projectors could have different settings. It was really special to see the rails on which they were moving above the stage depending on the song played. I admit that I couldn't appreciate these details, because I was too close, but I saw pictures of people who were further away and it must have been beautiful from further away! There was a huge bundle of cables on each side of the stage to support this infrastructure. This bundle was so impressive that I took some pictures! I also took a picture of a small microphone on the edge of the stage that was pointed at us to probably record the noise of the crowd. We had one not far from us, it must have often recorded us screaming, Sandra and I! I saw another one a little further to my right. I hadn't noticed them the previous day!

Sandra was able to hear Runaway once again. Well, in the front row, another benefit is that almost all songs are very good all of a sudden by the energy that inhabits you. It's a bit liberating to let out that energy and the advantage is that it comes back quickly so you can let it out again! My tip was to take sips of water often (my water bag was at my feet, very easy to access between two songs) to give me back a little more energy!

It's My Life really provoked people going crazy in the Bell Centre, even more than the previous day. I decided to show, for the first time, my little banner to see if Jon would see it. When he came to our side while walking everywhere on stage, he looked at it, but not long enough to see the full message, unless he reads super fast! He also read the banner that Isabelle held in her hands. I decided to hold mine for the whole song, because I told myself that It's My Life represented it well; I live my life, I do what I want (or almost!) and the last 25 years have been simply amazing because of Bon Jovi. So much happiness, so much craziness, so many beautiful moments thanks to them!

David Bergman came at some point near us and I saw that he took a picture of Isabelle holding her banner in her hands. I cannot wait to see if she will be on his professional website and if I will see mysef on it!

The camera that was moving on the rails didn't seem to bother me that evening; in any case, I don't remember seeing it! I was either too absorbed in the show and Jon, either it was coming near us when Jon was close to us. We had to really tilt our head back so much to look at his face and the camera was really lower than our field of view! I was trying to calculate how many feet Jon was from us when he was directly in front on the edge of the stage. It seemed that the barricade was the equivalent of five or six feet away from the stage. It also seemed that there were a few feet between the edge of the stage where the rail was and the "walkable" edge of the stage. I would say that Jon was probably at most ten or twelve feet away from us when he was in front of us! Not bad at all!!

I took the opportunity to take more pictures during We Weren't Born To Follow, because Jon is behind his microphone and his guitar. I would happen to put my hand flat on the barricade after zooming correctly and I was clicking on the button to take pictures in shutter mode while being very stable. I was also able to vary the elevation angle to give new perspectives compared to when I'm in other rows and I have to move the camera between hands and arms in the air to take a nice picture of Jon. Being front row was really great to take pictures!!

We Got It Going Jon allowed Jon to do a complete 360 on stage to see people all around him. Sandra and I love this song in concert... And yes, yes, I made a video of the part where he says "shake your money maker, smoke it if you got it". I'm unable to miss Jon's hip swaying when I know where it will be! Unable! I must admit that his swaying was discreet, but it doesn't matter! Jon was doing jumping jacks during this song, he was really on fire! He often did so, not always with his arms in the air, however, but he was opening and closing his legs alternately quite often when he was jumping! Speaking of jumping with open legs, I told myself at one point that it was time to know if I had recovered well from delivering my kids several years ago (women who have already given birth will know what I'm talking about)!! Verdict: yes, pretty well! haha

I noticed something really special from Phil X during Keep The Faith. He started with a guitar, a roadie came to give him another one right in the middle of the song and the same roadie came back to bring him the first one he had at the beginning of the song afterwards. I don't know if it was planned or if there was a problem with his first guitar, but I call it dynamic work on the roadie's part! I was so impressed that I made a little video on which we cannot see anything, but I hear this detail that I didn't want to forget (and no, I didn't count it in the 9 videos that I made that evening)! There you go, you know one of my tips to remember some things that are not ordinary; I start recording and I speak! But I really don't do it often (maybe once a tour).

I saw, when I turned to my left, that Isabelle had gone at some point during Keep The Faith. She had decided to go get a good spot to be close to Jon when he would head for the platform in the bleachers at the back of the floor. I didn't know where she would end up, but I saw her at a certain point quite at the front row level, but on the other side of the floor. She thus must have moved from her seat to the back of the floor to get back to the other side of the boards on my right. When Jon disappeared from the stage, Sandra ran to the right to get close to where Jon would pass. I glanced at her, she turned around and gave me a look that meant "well, come on!". I looked toward the stage and again at Sandra. I told myself that if she didn't come back in five to ten seconds, it was because the security guards would not have turned her around. She didn't come back, so I started walking very quickly to the right too. Strangely, there didn't seem to be so many people near the aisle right at that moment of the song... I was right next to Sandra and she was next to the aisle. I thought it was strange... When the song was about to finish, Sandra told me that there was something wrong because they hadn't yet put the rope to hold people back so they don't go too far in the aisle and block Jon's passage. I didn't know they were putting a rope during this tour! And in my head, it had been too easy to get to this place without security guards stopping us. Something unusual was about to happen, but what? I was still hoping that I would get my chance to touch Jon and that I found myself there easily because the stars were aligned well. I had Sandra by my side, Isabelle was a little further in front of us, the first to probably see Jon when he would come out of his hiding place.

The room was plunged into darkness after Keep The Faith; anticipation was great near us and in my heart. It's always special to see Jon close. I saw him close at the beginning of the show. I also knew that he always took the time to change his clothes before going to the platform. But, it was taking time.

A lot of time.

Where was Jon?!

Why were there no more security guards than that near where he would appear next to the stage?

Why wasn't I being pushed more than that?!

I was quite puzzled when, in my blind spot, I saw that the lights had turned back on on stage without seeing Jon go by. So what had happened to him? I turned around at the same time as Sandra did to find out what was going on. I just exhaled deeply. Sandra spoke.

— Darn it, he's on stage!!!

That's what I had just seen too, he had a guitar in his hand, he had changed clothes and was on stage. He had fooled us big time!!

Sandra, Isabelle and I ran to return to our front row seats. We arrived one after the other at our seats. I just had time to look at Jon that he was looking at the three of us, nodding, and he had a kind of big, really teasing smile that meant: "Gotcha, eh? You are not running the show tonight, I am! You're better off letting yourself be transported... all resistance is futile!" He really fooled us, this dear Jon! It was the first time I saw him change a show so much from one night to another during the same tour! He really wanted to surprise us. I couldn't help laughing at seeing Jon react like that while looking at the three of us. It's as if we had been caught our hands in the bag, it's really how I felt! He must have really laughed inside to see us going back quickly to our seats. I cannot believe he did this just to tease fans who knew too well how the show occurred! You can watch Stefania Cheli's video (thank you so much for capturing this moment on video!!). We see Jon making his teasing smile eight seconds from the beginning of the video. He seemed so moved at that moment, it seemed like he had to take his time before starting to sing. He took the time to look at several people in the front row, to savor the moment. And then, he said "you fooled me tonight". I admit that I didn't really understand why he said that. He seemed really (too) emotional.

I had barely recovered from my emotions when I recognized the first notes of the acoustic beginning of Who Says You Can't Go Home's as we had heard in New Jersey (the previous day, they had played the song normally). Quick, quick, quick, in addition to teasing us, he was starting with this song!! I took our banner, unfolded it and gave Sandra a corner so she could take it in her hand with me. Jon saw it immediately. He looked at us and didn't do anything special (at least, he hadn't nodded no this time). I remember that a band member looked at our banner, widening their eyes during the song, I don't remember if it's Phil X or David, but it was someone on the right on stage (I rarely looked to the left to see Hugh, John Shanks or Everett, to put it bluntly).

Sandra wanted to stick the banner to the barricade with something, I didn't even see what it was! But the banner looked a bit too low when she attached it to the top of the barricade.

— No, it will be too low, he won't see it!!
— OK.

And Sandra removed the thing she was using to attach it to the barricade. I preferred holding it in my hands than to see it fall on the other side!

Jon really had a hard time singing at first, he was forcing himself not to let his voice shake because of his emotions. I had never seen Jon so emotional. The more he sang, the more he seemed to take over himself. He kept his eyes closed during the acoustic part of the song. I was really under the impression that he was trying very hard not to crack under his emotions.

After starting to sing the song normally and saying "so that's how the story goes", Jon stopped singing and started playing the song acoustically once again. I found this strange and I must admit that I wondered at this moment if he would signal us to go sing the "it's all right" with him, because he had just looked at us with a big wide smile. A woman has the right to dream, especially when Jon stops singing like that in the middle! But what he did afterwards was even more extraordinary for people in the Bell Centre. It almost satisfied me as much as if we had been on stage, honestly!

I don't have a video of the moment, but I found some on YouTube. I didn't realize that many people had turned on their cellular phone flashlight during the acoustic part of the song, it was only by watching this video that I realized it (thanks a lot maggie695 for this video!!). And moreover, we can see each other with our neon pink banner in the front row!! I can see myself with a big wide smile while singing!

Jon then spoke to us.

— Now... Tomorrow night, when I'm sitting alone, far away from here, with nothing left but this memory. I'll close my eyes, I'll think of you. But better yet. I'll look at all those twinkling lights like the stars, all those twinkling lights...

He had his arms in the air, pointed out cellular phone lights in the audience.

— That's right. And you can be the same... And just know that someone will think of you (je pense que c'est ce qu'il a dit, mais il a un peu marmonné).

There must have been a quarter or even a third of the people at the Bell Centre who was lighting up the room with their cellular phone. It was magical!! And Jon started singing again from the moment where the lyrics are: "No matter where you are, no matter where you go..." It was so magical, I didn't expect him to do that. I was at peace, I was so happy to be part of this crowd that moved Jon so much! At the end of the song, I folded our banner. Well, it will be for a next time, maybe, but Jon's interactions with the crowd during the song have satisfied me!

During Born To Be My Baby, I decided to show my little banner of love for the band. I remember Jon saw it and looked at it a little longer this time.

I don't remember during which song exactly, but I was jumping behind Isabelle and Sandra (and I was really jumping high, higher than the previous day!) when Jon headed in our direction and pointed my tank top. No, you're kidding, right? Do not tell me you just noticed it! haha

At the beginning of Lay Your Hands On Me, the crowd was singing so loud the "lay your hands on me" without Jon requesting it, it was just crazy! Jon encouraged us by raising his arms in the air and inviting us to continue. He spoke to the crowd and during that time, people continued to sing. I didn't remember how loudly people from Montreal could sing! I remember when Jon made us clap in our hands toward the end of the song, I turned around and I saw people from all over the Bell Centre with arms in the air. I find it so extraordinary that even the people in the blue seats completely at the other end do it too!

Faithful to his current touring tradition, Jon took the time to introduce all the members on stage after Lay Your Hands On Me. This portion of the show may seem a little trivial for some people, but it's so important to me that Jon does it. These men who play their instrument do the magic on stage and Jon wouldn't be where he is without them, for different reasons. When we realize that Hugh played bass on Runaway even before the band existed, when we realize that David and Jon have known each other since elementary school, when we realize that Tico has been there since the beginning, when we know that Phil X saved Jon twice when Richie failed him, without taking anything away from the other members, we have no choice but to admire the loyalty that has united them for so many years!

The evening was already full of surprises, I didn't know what to expect next! And I wasn't disappointed by the rest of the surprises that awaited us!! The little curtains behind the stage came down; I was sure we were still going to hear God Bless This Mess and I had a twinge in my heart. I would have liked to hear something other than that from the new album! Come on Jon, surprise me! And he surprised me by giving us New Year's Day!! AHHH!!! That song makes me think of the New Year spirit when everything is allowed, even the wildest dreams. New Year is the time to say "seize the day" as Jon sings in the song. It's the spirit to take every opportunity to live your life. It's a new beginning, a deep conviction that anything can be accomplished with a little willpower. I was so happy to hear it and judging by Sandra's screams and the look she gave me when she heard Jon pronounce the title of the song just before the music started, she was very happy to hear it too!!

The curtains at the back of the stage featured images of the ocean and fishermen; those images looked like the music video of the song, with a few differences. I remember seeing a nice big empty bottle when Jon sings "this message in a bottle".

I made a video of a part of New Year's Day, since they hadn't played it very often in concert. And I did well, because when I looked at it, I realized that I captured this special moment that I had with Jon at the beginning of the second verse. He was at his microphone stand since the beginning of the song and suddenly, he took his microphone in his hands, he did a squat and when he sang "Let's toast to new beginnings", he looked at me directly in the eyes during the "new beginnings". I know the lyrics of this song, but to see him watch me sing that part, I lost my English because I was so surprised. I told myself: "No no no, what are the lyrics again, we're going to sing while looking at each other!!!" I remembered it as he sang, I hope I didn't seem too crazy! Since my camera must have been close to my face, on the video, it looks like he's staring at the camera, but he's looking at me in the eyes!

Jon Bon Jovi looking at Marie-Hélène Cyr at the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)

What I found special too is the fact that Jon removed his microphone from his stand just to sing to me that little bit of the song; he put it right back on his stand and didn't walk around afterwards! He just left his microphone while he didn't have to sing. One thing is for sure, from now on, New Year's Day will have a different meaning for me!! I had a little thought for the future when Jon sang "Let's hope tomorrow finds us". I love this sentence. Hoping tomorrow will find us... It's a powerful message. I was hoping at that moment that the next tour would find us and that it was not the end as some rumors begin to circulate that Jon would eventually want to stop doing shows to focus on other projects...

Sandra had brought her VIP laminate from the previous day to fan herself when she was hot, I found it really funny! I know that Jon also looked at her several times during the show, it was making her go crazy every time!

Nothing can describe the explosion of joy I had when I heard the first notes of the song after New Year's Day! No, no, no, I was dreaming, I was sure of it! It couldn't be that! Sandra looked at me at the same time as Isabelle shouted "I'd Die For You"!! We were three to hear the same thing! It was true! It had been so long since I had heard it!! I had a thought for Genevieve who wanted to hear old songs so much. Here was a very old song! It's the kind of songs you always remember the lyrics from, even after so many years. I listen to it from time to time in my car, it's so good! I still made a little video of it, for my personal records! Unusual fact: Jon completely removed, massaged and replaced his ear plug in his right ear during the song! I had never seen him do that, if I remember correctly! The ear plug must have been badly plugged into his ear. I was lucky to be recording when it happened! I didn't watch at all what I was recording during the song and this is one of my videos where I don't seem to know where Jon is! In fact, I followed him with my eyes, but I forgot that I was making a video with my left hand and that it would be convenient for my hand to move at the same rate as my head was turning! haha

I had a twinge in my heart when I heard the first notes of Bad Medicine... The main part of the show was already coming to an end! I don't know why, but I was under the impression that Jon would jump off the stage during this song (and a little later during Livin' On A Prayer). It seems to me that he was in that kind of a mood to do that! But I was wrong this time! It's OK, I had him right in front of me since the beginning of the evening! It was already something special not to see him do two songs during which he usually goes to the platform in the stands! I jumped so much during Bad Medicine, I couldn't believe it! It looked like I was the little Energizer bunny who keeps on going and going and going!

Jon talked to the crowd, said goodnight (yes, yes, as if we didn't know that the show was not finished yet!) and the band disappeared underneath the stage, leaving us in total craziness. I was screaming so much and I wasn't the only one. At a certain point, when the screams had a little decreased in intensity, the characteristic "olé olé ole olé" of the Montreal crowd were heard. This was the loudest sequence I've seen so far. People were singing so loud that it seemed like the band members were singing in their microphone. I began to wonder what John Shanks and Everett were thinking about since they were finishing their first tour with Bon Jovi and they were getting used to the intensity of the Montreal crowd since the previous night. I have never heard so much singing from a crowd between the main show and the encores. Never!

Even though it's not my favorite ballad, I liked to hear (You Want To) Make A Memory as the first encore. I was telling myself at that moment that this is exactly what I was doing: filling up on memories for the next months and years until all this madness starts again, if it starts again. I stole a piece of time as Jon wrote it so well in the song!

During the encores, I don't remember during which song exactly, Jon had his acoustic guitar on his shoulder and a guitar pick was caught in the kind of drawing at the bottom of the guitar. I wondered what the pick was doing there and it suddenly fell on the stage at one point while Jon was playing.

Isabelle was very excited to my left after the first encore. Something weird was also happening on stage, it seemed like Jon wanted to improvize. Expect the unexpected, that's about what Jon had been doing since the beginning of the evening. Jon took off his jacket and said something like: "It's time to loosen up a little bit..." People were waving special requests in the front rows with white sheets on which song titles had been written. Isabelle said very loudly: "In These Arms!" and said something to me that it would be so much fun for them to play it, because it's her favorite song. And when Jon finally decided to turn around to face us, that's exactly the song that began! Isabelle was ecstatic, she said a few times "Thank you, thank you". Jon pointed someone in the first rows in the right section of the pit, as if he meant "There, you have your song!" When I saw the official setlist after the concert, I saw that it wasn't planned! I filmed it almost completely to keep a good memory of this impromptu moment where Jon let himself surrender to the fever of the end of the tour to please us! I was happy, because I caught on video how close we can be to Jon when he comes close when we are front row!

When Wanted Dead Or Alive began, I wondered what were all the weird noises I could hear. I then realized that it was Everett with his percussions that embellished the drums that Tico was beating slowly! I heard these percussions really loud! The crowd began to sing so loudly the first verse that Jon invited us to do it again with him and he let us sing alone afterwards! I like it when he does that!! And to please people who watch my videos on which I almost always sing (and sorry, I sing very badly in concert!), I decided to lipsync for a good part of the first verse to show how loudly the crowd was singing!

I noticed that Jon seemed to be the only one playing music during the first verse! I rarely saw this! The other band members seemed to wait, even Phil X didn't play! Speaking of Phil X, I noticed something really special at the beginning of the song, I even told Sandra and she was as astonished as me! Phil X had two guitars on him at the beginning! He had his acoustic guitar with which he played and his electric guitar for the solo and the end of the song was on his back! A roadie came to get his acoustic guitar just before the solo. Special, special, special!

When Jon sang "'Cause I might not make it back", I wondered again if I was seeing the band for the last time in concert. It took four and a half years between the last two visits to Montreal; at this rate, there will not be so many more tours! And the tours are getting a lot shorter too; in 2017 and 2018, only about twenty concerts (each year) were presented and nothing outside of America. I also told myself during this song that 2h30 of my life had just passed without thinking of anything other than Bon Jovi and I had been completely captivated by their music and the crowd behind me. I was so happy!

I suspected that Livin' On A Prayer was the next song, unless Jon still had surprises in store for us; he was capable of anything. On the other hand, this time, he kept the "Wanted-Prayer" sequence as is. Isabelle let out a big "NOOO" when she heard the first notes of Livin' On A Prayer, because she knew, like me, that it was perhaps the last song. It was barely 10h40pm, I wondered why the band would end so early compared to the previous day... Sandra called her mother during the song, as always.

During the first verse, I jumped as if I had never jumped before! I was on fire! I didn't feel so breathless either because I was singing at the same time! Adrenaline is powerful adrenaline, so powerful!

I also took the opportunity to take a picture of my left hand which was holding the barricade to have an additional memory that I had been front row. I had already taken a picture of my right hand a little earlier in the evening. It was really a privilege to be front row and I fully realized it! (Yes, when I go for blood draws, nurses love me, because my veins are as easy to see in my elbow as they are visible on my hands when I work out!)

Marie-Hélène Cyr's hand during the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)
Marie-Hélène Cyr's hand during the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)

During Livin' On A Prayer, at a time when Jon was in front of us, so close, I extended my arm and suddenly opened my hand in his direction. I then said to myself: "Oh no, I didn't think of doing that throughout the evening!" Maybe if I had stretched my arm quite a few times during the concert, he would have understood at one point that I wanted to see him even closer!!

Again, I sang so loud during this song! I almost hoped to lose my voice by singing so loud that it hurt my abdominals. I also realized that I was on the tip of my feet at the barricade in order to be as close to the stage as possible. This way, I had my elbows properly on the barricade and my camera was hanging on the other side of the barricade when I didn't hold it in my hands. I must have been like that for a little while without really realizing it! I told myself that all this working out in the last year and my runs had to help me so I could stand like that and I could jump as I had done and as I was still doing during Livin' On A Prayer. When I was hot during the show, I was doing like the previous day; I would put my hair over my head and hold it for a few seconds to cool off my neck. These little breaks made me feel good!!

At the end of Livin' On A Prayer, I saw that Hugh had already removed his ear plugs, but I also noticed that Jon had not done the same! We were probably going to have a special treat! I had also seen that the Canadian flag on which Teresa had written Montreal Loves Bon Jovi had been thrown on the edge of the stage by a man in the front row a little to the right of the center. I wondered if Jon was going to see it because it was a little curled up. Before taking the official bow, he bended over quietly and took the flag in his hands. He unfolded it correctly and showed it upside down to the crowd! When he put his head down to look at it, he realized that he was holding it upside down and put it back on the right side! He stayed like that, mouth closed with a satisfactory smile that said a lot, holding the flag, savoring the screams and applause from the crowd! I couldn't see Teresa from where I was, but I was telling myself she must be out of her mind by the joy of seeing Jon hold her flag and seeing how crazy the crowd was in the Bell Centre because of it! I was so happy for her! I was also happy to have known her before this event in order to be as happy to know the person behind the making of the flag that was now on stage!

Not only did Jon show Teresa's flag to the crowd, he put it as a cape behind him! He thought he had made a knot strong enough to have it on his back for the official bow, but it fell on the ground. Regardless, Jon picked it up and held it in his left hand to take the bow. The crowd went totally crazy! The band was clearly not going to leave us like that! It was only 10h45pm! Jon finally threw the flag back in the crowd and yes, Teresa got it back later! What a beautiful moment!

The crowd was screaming and applauding while the band members shook hands and congratulated each other for the excellent performance they had just given. And then the band members turned around. I was telling myself that they had to say goodbye to the people behind the stage. I thought it was taking them a lot of time. I was taking some pictures of the band who was facing people behind the stage when I heard Isabelle talk to me.

— We'll be in the pictuuure!!

She was quite excited, she moved forward as much as possible over the barricade. It took me a split second to realize what she meant. David Bergman was behind Tico's drums taking the official picture of the end of the tour!! I quickly closed my camera and tried to position myself to see the lens of David's camera... Alas, Everett was hiding me, I couldn't see the camera!! And indeed, when I saw the official picture, we can see Isabelle very well, but Sandra and I are hidden by Everett's legs! Too bad!!

Jon waved at the crowd when he faced us again and pretended to leave by turning around; the crowd then grumbled, screaming louder. Jon turned around, he would stay for sure, he still had his ear plugs on! He got closer to his microphone.

— Go home!

The screams of the crowd got more intense, we heard "NO!!" pretty much everywhere.

— I'm getting too old for this! Go home!!!

It looked like the crowd had come together to say a big "NO!!" all at one. Even I realized that by saying it, there was a chance that Jon would hear from where we were!

— All right... We'll take some special requests from the crowd...

People were screaming so much that I thought I would go deaf. It was the first time I was hearing Jon say that they were going to take special requests! Several people on our right were showing sheets of paper with song names on them. I saw Always, This Ain't A Love Song, I'll Be There For You, Blood On Blood... Jon finally made his choice without telling us, but when he turned around, I saw from his lips that he told Blood On Blood to his acolytes. He went to talk briefly in a microphone turned around on stage near Tico's drums. But what the heck was he doing there? It looked like he was a clerk at Harvey's when they repeat orders in a microphone to let people in the kitchen know what they are... But thinking back on it, the microphone had to serve exactly forthat purpose! To tell people backstage what song they would play! Mostly because the day after the second show, I read articles about Bon Jovi in the Journal de Montreal that I had bought the morning of the second show after my physiotherapy appointment. In one of these articles, it was mentioned that the Quebec company 4U2C had made the visual design of the show with the projectors and that Bon Jovi often changed the setlist from one city to another and that they had to be ready with a list of 60 songs for which they had programmed the configuration of lights. Jon was probably talking to them in the microphone so that they could prepare the configuration of the lights of the song that was about to start! I didn't notice this microphone until this moment! A roadie also brought a guitar to Jon for Blood On Blood.

It's always so special to hear Jon sing "And me, I'm just a singer in a long-haired rock and roll band" after the solo and see the reaction of the crowd afterwards. The band seems to have rediscovered this song and its meaning since they chose to open shows with this song several years ago.

After Blood On Blood, Jon tried to leave again, but he still had his ear plugs on. Yeah, yeah, yeah, Jon, make me believe you're going to leave again... He told us again to go back home. We shouted so loudly the "NO!!", it looked like that's just what Jon wanted to hear. As my friend Albena pointed out to me via email the following day, and I told her that I would quote her, because I thought she summed it up perfectly, it's intense, an end of a Bon Jovi show in Montreal when Jon wants to leave and we don't want him to leave right away. It's a very intense and tense atmosphere. In our hearts, we all say, "No, stay, I'm not ready to let you go, don't leave, don't leave, don't leave!!" And that's the expression that Albena has given me: it's like separation anxiety that goes both ways! You know, the kind of anxiety when you see everyone leaving and your heart gets emotional, because you'll be alone in just a moment. I'm sure the band feels it too!

People were clapping in their hands, I could hear feet stomping and chairs banging, and I let myself be carried away. I then instinctively started banging my right hand wide open on the barricade to make as much noise as possible.

The band members were waiting for a signal from Jon, he clearly didn't want to leave right away. Jon was looking at his colleagues and he seemed to really wonder what he would choose as the last song. Tico was standing behind his drums, Jon asked him something, I'm pretty sure I saw his lips move as if he said: "New or old?" and Tico lifted his shoulders and put his arms to the sides, as if he said: "It doesn't matter, whatever is fine with me!" I had never seen Jon hesitate so much on stage. Moments later, Jon made his choice, it showed on his face. I didn't see him say the title of the song to anyone because I must have been looking elsewhere, but Isabelle told me: "He just said I'll Be There For You!".

Jon moved to the back of the stage again to say something to the microphone near Tico. I had a hard time believing it, but when the roadie came back to bring an acoustic guitar to Jon, I knew it was possible. When I heard the first notes of I'll Be There For You, I felt my heart burst in my chest. Lord! Too many emotions! I was so, so happy for Teresa. I knew it was her favorite song and I thought she must be out of herself right now! She wanted so much to hear it in Montreal and now it was becoming a reality!

I savored this moment as if it was the last time I saw them. Honestly, Jon couldn't have picked a better song than this one! During the song, if I remember correctly, I decided to show my little banner one last time. In fact, I wasn't only showing it to Jon, but to all the members on stage, because the message was also intended for them. I felt a lot of love for those men who have made me feel so good for over 25 years. The fact of holding my banner gave me the advantage that I could resist the temptation to make a video, because I really needed both my hands to hold it straight (I had to fold it a lot to get it into my little purse).

Jon and the others took a final bow at the end, Jon had a hand on his heart as a thank you to us (he had done it several times during the evening and even the previous day) and I saw him remove his ear plugs. It was now over! It was 11hpm. The band disappeared from the stage and the lights quickly turned back on. It's crazy to see the intensity of the white light after spending several hours in the dark or in the light of the stage!

SK had told me she would stay until the very end of the show that night because she was less afraid of traffic. The band was going home probably the same evening and it would not be crazy at their hotel. In addition, she told me that roadies might give more things at the end of the tour to avoid having to load everything in the trucks. She was right, because when I got near her to ask her how she had found this completely crazy gig, I saw a roadie arrive with the black towel with which Jon had wiped himself near the drums and he threw it in the crowd! The person on SK's left caught it after it fell between the stage and the barricade.

Seconds later, I looked up to see that someone was throwing one of Tico's drumsticks in our direction. The roadie had thrown it with conviction and someone behind me caught it. SK and I were close to getting it. The other drumstick was thrown on Sandra's left and Sandra almost caught it, but again, someone behind her caught it.

Another roadie arrived on stage with two setlist sheets that are usually so wanted. For an unknown reason, he handed them both over to a roadie that was between the stage and the barricade, not far from Sandra who was still close to me. Everything happened so quickly; I headed toward Sandra who, at the same time, jumped to take both sheets from the roadie's hand as he was just starting to lower his hand toward people. She took both sheets, kept one for her, and handed one to me while saying: "There you go Marie!" I cannot explain how happy I felt when I grabbed the sheet! Finally, after 28 Bon Jovi shows Jovi, and my first in the front row, I finally had one of these sheets! Finally it was my turn and that was all thanks to Sandra! Several people got closer, including Eve, who had a copy of the previous day's show, to see what had been planned and what had been spontaneous songs during the show. Several people asked to take a picture of the sheet with their cellular phone, something I didn't refuse to anyone who showed up. We quickly realized, Sandra and I, that the encores had changed a lot compared to what Jon had planned (see the picture from the setlist below).

I then headed back to SK to find out if she was still giving me her chair, because security guards were starting to remove the ties of the VIP chairs. SK was just about to leave and she was leaving her chair there. When she saw me, she just pointed the chair to me with her hand and her eyes and asked me if I wanted it again, because she was leaving without it! I grabbed it immediately, thanking her for her gesture! While folding the chair to make it easier to carry around, I turned around to go find Sandra and pick up my things left at my chair; I had already put my banners and my water bag on my chair before going to do all that. When I turned around, I saw Christine, the woman who had made us the backstage visit the previous day. She was making her way through the crowd near the stage. As I passed by, I decided to talk to her.

— By the way, thank you so much for the backstage visit yesterday! I really enjoyed it!!
— Oh no problem, I hope we'll see you next time around!
— Yeah!
— There you go!

And while saying that, she held out her arm to me, holding a guitar pick in her hand. I grabbed the pick, thanked her, without be sure why she had done that. She had a big smile on her face as if she wanted to say "my pleasure" and went further away. I was in shock, because when I looked at the pick more closely, I could see it was a little bent at the end, so it was probably used by someone on stage! Well, I hadn't received it from Phil X who was having fun throwing his picks at some point during the show! But still, a roadie had given it to me in my own hands! That experience taught me something: never underestimate the power of a single thank you to someone you have appreciated. You never know what this person may want to do for you!

Official setlist of the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)
Guitar pick from a band member after the Bon Jovi show in Montreal, Quebec, Canada (May 18, 2018)

Everything happened so fast, I know I forget some parts! I remember that Sandra and I saw SK again before we left, after security repeatedly asked us to leave. We exchanged kisses on the cheek with SK, wished her a nice trip home and thanked her again for her two chairs!

We headed toward the back of the floor; Sandra carried her chair and teased me by saying it wasn't so hard to carry a chair... Well, the previous day, I had complained a little, because the chairs are massive folding chairs and I I had two to carry, throughout staircases to say the least!! When we got to the section where we could go higher to get outside, I heard a conversation between a man and a woman about the sound. The man said that many years ago, his ears buzzed a lot more after a concert and that tonight, they weren't buzzing as much. He commented that bands are better at calibrating decibel levels. I don't know, my earring was muffed a lot at this moment! I don't know if it was because of the music or the screams of the crowd, but well, my ears were not normal!

On our way to the exit, Sandra saw a merchandise booth (I suspect it was the same one at which we stopped before the show) and she approached to find out if they had the reusable bag and asked me if I wanted to buy something. I'm not too fond of these booths that raise prices for nothing. I'd rather wait until the merchandise comes on sale on the official website!

We went outside through the same door we had come in earlier in the evening and headed toward the Sheraton where we had parked. People were still talking so much about Sandra's chair under her arm.

"Look at her, she's leaving with her chair!"

"What is she doing there with her chair?!"

A woman crossed René-Lévesque Boulevard with us and started talking to us until we arrived to the Sheraton. On René-Lévesque, a man, a passenger in a car in the street, took his body out up to his waist from the window and asked Sandra where we were coming from.

— Oh man, I missed that!

In my head I was telling myself that if he had wanted to really see them, he would have acted accordingly!

I was paying for the parking lot that night because Sandra had paid for it the previous day and it was the same price, even though it was in two different parking lots. We took the elevator and when we arrived at the underground parking lot where we had parked the car, Sandra suddenly remembered that we had to pay at a terminal in the lobby! Oh no! I had seen on signs that we could pay on level B as well. There were many people in the lobby when we arrived and I was afraid there was a line at this terminal! So we climbed back into the elevator, under the perplexed eye of an employee who wondered why we were not going on the first floor. It was too bad for Sandra, who was still walking with her folding chair; I didn't think about it, I could have just told her to go and wait for me at the car! I paid my ticket and we went down to the basement again.

We put our belongings back in her car and we headed for the exit. And we realized we could pay by credit card at the gate!! If we had known, we wouldn't have lost five minutes walking around in the hotel! We left the parking lot and shortly after turning on a street near the Bell Centre, I saw an ambulance pass by quickly in the opposite direction... Hmmm... Sandra's theory made more sense all of a sudden! Who knows, maybe the band was on the other side of the road!!

Honestly, I don't remember much of the return trip, other than that we were caught in traffic to reach the Champlain Bridge. The long weekend had begun and I had seen during the day a news headline that some bridges on the South Shore and some roads of the Turcot interchange would be closed to traffic throughout the weekend from 10hpm Friday. We were Friday at 11:30pm...

When I looked at my emails and Facebook on the way back, I saw that my sister had commented on a picture of the show that a woman (whom I don't know) had put on her Facebook page with this message: "Marie-Helene Cyr, close your mouth !! lollllllll" When I saw the picture, I realized that the woman who took the picture was behind the stage and I was seen in the front row, mouth wide open screaming! I admit that my sister, who likes to tease me, jumped fully on the opportunity! No no, I didn't have my my mouth open like that throughout the concert!!!

It must have been a little later than midnight when we arrived at Sandra's. Before getting out of the car (Sandra had just stopped in the middle of the street next to my car parked in the street so I could walk as little as possible), we gave each other two big kisses on the cheeks. We also thanked each other for all the good memories we made together on this tour and we wished that we could do it again in less than four years!

When I arrived home, I was really exhausted, but so happy of my two nights. I didn't go on stage with Sandra to sing with Jon, but I felt as good as if I had done it! The tour ended beautifully and I was at peace with my new experiences and new memories.

I dropped my things at the entrance while trying to make as little noise as possible, since my whole family was sleeping soundly. I had lit only one light in the entrance and I saw a mosquito on the door frame. I make quite impressive reactions to mosquito bites, so my instinct is always to kill them as quickly as possible before they jump on me! I didn't manage to crush it on the frame and it went further. Oh no!! I saw it come back; I slapped it in the air and it fell on our entrance carpet where I finished it. Phew, I wouldn't get stung during the night! Until I looked at our staircase that goes down to the basement next to the entrance. At least fifteen mosquitoes had taken refuge on the walls surrounding the staircase! I thought that I was dreaming and none of this was true, for sure! But no, unfortunately, my imagination wasn't playing any tricks on me!

I then went to close the door of our room to avoid waking up Martin. When I returned to the entrance, I had a mission: I had to get rid of all these mosquitoes before going to bed, even if it was almost 1ham! I decided to go with the radical method, the use of an electric fly swat! The mosquitoes were so big, most of them were easy to kill! After grilling a dozen, I told myself that it must not be a kind that stings humans, because they didn't throw themselves on me as usual. Too bad, I was too deep in the process, I finished my hunt! It's a miracle that the children weren't woken up by the tac-tac-tac sounds that the fly swat was making, especially Xavier who was sleeping in the room on the other side of the wall where the mosquitoes were!

I went to sleep later under the impression that I was sinking into the bed because I was exhausted! The next morning, I had a big headache when I got up and not much energy to spare, but I survived my day with all the good memories that I had in my head!

I wrote my review starting on Saturday morning (I had started the preamble before, of course!) and we are now Wednesday of the following week. It's such a process of writing a text that is so long, but I'm happy to do it, even if I have less time to focus on it with my work, my family and my other projects! I realized lately that not only do these reviews allow me to face my fear of forgetting details about the intense experiences that Bon Jovi shows are in my life, but they also allow me to mourn those extraordinary experiences. Reliving them again by writing everything that happened, all that I felt, I can be at peace with these experiences and move on more easily! And for those who wonder if I beat my record in length for this review... YES! I never thought I would have so much to say, but I did (in French anyway)! The trip to Toronto was 74 pages long (78 in French) and the current review is 71 pages (81 in French)!

Before I finish and forget, I would like to say a big thank you to the co-star of this review, Sandra, who has an elephant memory and helped me this time to put some pieces back into the right order!

In short, five days have passed since the last show of the This House Is Not For Sale tour. Adrenaline got out of my body, the memories start to get a little fuzzy in my head and routine got back on top. Only time will tell if I have the privilege to go to other Bon Jovi shows in the future. If it all ended on May 18, 2018, I will be at peace with all of this. My head is full of projects, I have a job that I love and a family that makes me happy. Bon Jovi is really the cherry on the sundae of my life. If all this continues in the future, the band can still count on me to continue to support them in concert. No matter what, nothing can take away all those memories that live in me now and nothing can come to destroy this beautiful big family of fans to which I am so happy to belong. Thank you, my life, for putting Bon Jovi on my path, because the band helped me to forge the woman that I am today. With my second-row and front-row tickets, I really feel like I stepped on a podium of my life as a fan. Nothing can ever take that away from me!

Copyright © May 23, 2018 Marie-Hélène Cyr

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