Flashback to 2003: Thousands flock for a date with rock royalty

Staging a Bon Jovi concert is no mean feat. Preparation involves months of planning and hundreds of people who make sure everything is fit for rock royalty.

The stage for the Bon Jovi concert is constructed at Molineux
The stage for the Bon Jovi concert is constructed at Molineux

Back in June 2003, a wave of anticipation surrounded Molineux as thousands of fans from across the Black Country, Staffordshire, Shropshire and further afield waited to watch Bon Jovi.

Ahead of the gig, a dedicated team was working hard on the Bounce Tour and for the Wolverhampton gig, the football stadium was being completely transformed, with a purpose-built stage being installed for the occasion.

More than 200 people were involved in the build and breakdown of the concert which had already taken more than six months to plan. The pitch was to be covered in two different surfaces – 2500sq metres of Trakway and 7,500sq metres of terraplas. This was supplied by Eve Trakway.

More than 50 different companies were supplying equipment for the concert, which was to be attended by more than 34,000 fans.

Cranes were drafted in to help set up the stage, which arrived on nine articulated trucks and is built using 360 tonnes of steel.

From the UK the tour was due to head for to US where the highlight of the tour would be two sold out shows in the New York Giants Stadium. On the night, queuing was a necessary evil for concert-goers but nobody minded _ most had been waiting for this day since buying tickets eight months earlier.

Many people were loyal followers who had been to other legs of the Bounce tour and had seen the band several times.

Sally Woods, of Shropshire, is a massive fan and could barely contain her excitement before the concert. She said: “I love everything about them and I think Jon Bon Jovi is gorgeous. I’m a wannabe rock chick.”

Sally Woods had her ticket for the hugely-anticipated show

Fans like Kevin Brown and John Mycock from Wolverhampton were up and out early to queue for the concert.

Kevin said: “It’s great for the city. It’s great to have something like this here, rather than in Birmingham.”

The night was also the first concert 11-year-old Emma Peck, of Wolverhampton, had ever witnessed.

The Rakegate school pupil was taking guitar lessons and said she would love to play as well as Bon Jovi one day.

She was taken along by her dad Gary, who said: “It was about time we had a proper rock band in Wolverhampton. The concert was brilliant and I would like to say a big thanks to Jez Moxey for bringing them here.”

Julia Pearce, of Cardiff, had only one complaint – the concert wasn’t long enough. She would have been happy for her heroes to play all night and said she was hoping for more encores.

But she said it was a brilliant performance and her trip to Wolverhampton was money well spent. The highlight of the night for 17-year-old Adam Hollingsworth, of Parkfields, came when the band played their hit Bad Medicine, which had the whole stadium rocking.

The main man - Jon Bon Jovi on stage

Perton lasses Helen Lynch and Nikki Beddows had also been bedazzled by the rock phenomenon that is Bon Jovi. They managed to talk their way from their seats area to the standing area to get a closer look at Jon Bon Jovi.

Emma Weir, 20 from Willenhall, was with her friends Becky Lloyd, 20, and Eleanor Needham, 19, from Wednesfield and Chesterfield. They all donned Superman T-shirts.

“I’ve seen them at Stoke, but Molineux was a lot better. There were more people and the crowd were more into them,” said Emma.

As fans left the stadium they were full of praise for organisers for the smooth operation saying everything appeared to have run like clockwork.

It may have been the first concert to be staged at Molineux but the professional organisation made it seem as if the venue had been holding gigs for years.

Wolves chief executive Jez Moxey said it proved Molineux could stage a major rock concert in style.

The band’s performance and behaviour of fans was excellent and it had been a brilliant night, he said. “I thought it was a complete and utter success,” said Mr Moxey. “There were 34,000 people there who all seemed to have a wonderful time.

“I am very proud that we managed to host such a high profile and exciting event for the club and the city.”

Mr Moxey said he wanted to thank all the staff who worked on the night, as well as the council, police, fire and ambulance services who had helped the event run so smoothly.

He added it was great that people living nearby did not complain about the noise and instead said what a fantastic coup it was for the city. “That was a great testament for what we are trying to do,” he said. “The whole thing was really superb. Even the weather was fantastic, it was perfect.”

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