ACC, Toronto - January 21, 2006

-- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

TORONTO - Jon Bon Jovi shook his blond hair and stared down death.

"It'll take more than a plane crash to stop me," the lead singer of veteran rock combo Bon Jovi announced to a delirious crowd at the Air Canada Centre last night.

In the wee hours yesterday morning, the group's private plane skidded off a runway while landing in bad weather in Hamilton.

"So, what did you guys do last night?" Jon asked playfully after the band's second song. He then pulled out a piece of paper and said he had a prepared statement.

"Rumours of our deaths have been greatly exaggerated," he read. He added that a stewardess who suffered minor injuries ended up "in the safe arms of one of Hamilton's finest."

Lighthearted defiance aside, it must have been scary.

The group and its touring staff were flying to Canada from Buffalo after playing a concert there on Friday. The Boeing 707 was carrying 14 passengers, in addition to the flight crew, when it overshot the runway and skidded too far.

Luckily, no serious injuries were reported and the first of four soldout Toronto shows went off as scheduled (subsequent shows are tomorrow, Tuesday and Jan. 30).

Whether you're a fan or not, there's no denying Bon Jovi -- with frontman Jon and guitarist Richie Sambora at its core -- has mastered the art of arena rock.

After their initial burst of fame in the 1980s, Bon Jovi persevered through periods when it wasn't cool to like them. They have emerged partly as a nostalgia act, but also as an act that still can sell a new studio CD, like the recent Have A Nice Day.

The show began with Jon alone on a separate small stage, at the opposite end of the arena, for Last Man Standing. As the song reached an end, Jon made his way through the crowd to the main stage, although one determined woman broke through security and momentarily trapped him in a huge bear hug.

The group then blistered through a two-hour set, with Jon cleverly goading the crowd into handling most of the high notes in Livin' On A Prayer. The intense half-hour encore ended with, appropriately, Wanted Dead Or Alive.

Bon Jovi prefers the latter, through plane peril and music.

Local band A Thousand Cures won a contest to be the opening act. A different local group will open each of the four shows.


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