Obviously 2016 has been a year of musical lows, there's no doubt we've lost some of our most beloved heroes but for me there's also been some incredible musical highs... including 'One For The Road' (an all-star concert at Sydney's Enmore Theatre to raise money for the families of the victims of a deadly car accident that claimed much loved stage manager Shane Cooper and left drumming luminary Mick Skelton in a coma with serious injuries. Driven by the Support Act charity it featured Aussie music greats Hoodoo Gurus, Jimmy Barnes, Diesel, The Church, Dragon, Ian Moss, Baby Animals, Choirboys, Noiseworks + more!), Rob Thomas (Sydney Opera House & Clipsal 500 - Adelaide) Richard Marx at the aforementioned theatre and more recently Keith Urban (both Sydney shows). But of course my 2016 musical highlight was seeing RSO - Richie Sambora + Orianthi, four times on their Australia tour - their first time in OZ, under the banner RSO (they were here in 2014 on Richie's solo tour, with Orianthi as special guest). 
Some may say four shows of the same act is excessive but I have been seeing multiple shows of my favourites for years now. And the final show in Brisbane raised my Bon Jovi/Sambora/RSO show tally to 80 - again some would say excessive but I wouldn't change a thing! Yes it's now a Bon Jovi/Sambora/RSO show tally for obvious reasons but my tally has always included band, solo & big events, so the count stands. This year also marked 30 years of my Jovi/Sambora fandom, so of course when Richie left the band in 2013 I was devastated (& seeing the band that year without him was certainly no musical highlight BUT with time & the following year's solo tour & this year's RSO tour, I have now come to the realisation he made the right decision. Seeing him so happy on-stage & off is an absolute delight!) 
The decision to see all four RSO shows was a no-brainer for me but the ticket/show package prices surely helped - I certainly didn't need to sell my remaining kidney! With tickets going on sale the month before the late September tour, there wasn't much time for the anxious wait (well maybe just a little!) before I was off on a mini-tour (not sure I could now handle the likes of 2000s Crush Tour when I saw 23 shows overseas - as they left Australia off the world-tour map). Orianthi's hometown Adelaide was first up as RSO performed at the city's Entertainment Centre - I had a meet 'n' greet package for this show, so the night started off with soundcheck (always cool to hear a band run through what they'll be playing later) followed by the chance to say a quick hello/thank you and grab a happy snap (relieved to get a much clearer pic with Richie again - 2014's attempts were laughable at the least. Firstly a fellow 'fan' wouldn't take a pic for me & then a camera failure turned us into aliens!) Highlights from the 1st show were the gig's opener 'When Love Comes To Town' (U2/BB King), Orianthi's rockin' hit 'Heaven In This Hell' & the encore 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' (the reason I became hooked on Jovi!). 
From Adelaide we flew to Melbourne for soundcheck & show at the Margaret Court Arena - I won't say too much about this show but yes it was odd. Should have known it wasn't going to go well as our flight was delayed, we waited a ridiculous amount of time for our hotel shuttle, no time to get properly ready for the show, pretty much got to our hotel & had to leave for the venue... yes they were late getting on stage but having been to 1000s of gigs & working in the industry, I have come to know there could be a number of reasons for this. And to point the finger at someone or some thing... is ridiculous. But I do know when there's no spotlight on the star while performing a solo or even when he mentions no lights, there's an issue! Aside from the hiccups, I did enjoy this show... most notably 'Pride & Joy' (Stevie Ray Vaughan), 'Black Or White' (Michael Jackson) & Richie's 'Every Road Leads Home To You'. 
My hometown Sydney was next... I love shows at the Enmore Theatre and this was no exception! After the less-than-stellar Melbourne show, we knew things 'would be alright on the night' as we lined up outside the theatre, we could hear a proper soundcheck going on that lasted almost an hour. Once we got into the venue for our part of the soundcheck, you could tell things were still being ironed out - all good by me, you can tell these performers are perfectionists and it means we will be guaranteed a show to remember! My friend who I've done all my OS touring with was by-chance back home & at this gig, we hadn't seen a show together since 2010 - so it was going to be a special night. I have been lucky enough to meet each Jovi member on several occasions and most were made possible by my mate, so seeing her say hi to Richie again was very cool... he did remember her from all the years of touring & it was a special moment to witness. There was a photo taken of us with Richie but not sure we'll ever see it - hopefully it'll turn up one day! Come showtime, it was evident that band and crew were back to their undeniable best - no hiccups tonight! Absolute highlight 'Harlem Rain' (Richie Sambora) in acoustic mode (which the King Of Swing pointed out was the first time he'd played it live) + 'Voodoo Child' (Slight Return) (Jimi Hendrix) + Orianthi's bluesy number 'How Do You Sleep'. My sister & 16-year-old nephew were also at this show - the nephew is now a huge Richie fan (was already in awe of Orianthi, as his musical hero is MJ) - I feel like my work is done here! 
And we come to the final night at Brisbane's Eatons Hill Hotel - as I mentioned earlier, this marked my 80th show and will always remain an absolute favourite! Meet 'n' greet was done before soundcheck for this show & this time I managed a few more words than usual... I thanked RSO for these shows and mentioned how beautiful it was to see Richie happy on-stage & off, I have a feeling he appreciated this as he commented they (both he & Ori) were very happy, I replied 'absolutely you guys are incredible together!' Of course I wanted to say more but was ushered out as Richie thanked me for coming... I know that's said to each & every one of us but still, makes me smile - he has no idea how much I have to thank him for! 
I would love to say my hometown was the best of the bunch but Brisbane wins! Longer set-list & Richie becoming a human jukebox for the majority of the encore when he asked us what we wanted to hear, has to clinch the victory! He looked at me a few times waiting for my request but I am truthfully happy to hear that man sing anything plus who is hearing my voice over all the others - ha! We were treated to some Sambora gems including the 1991 'Stranger In This Town' album closer 'The Answer' (we also got the album title track earlier in the evening), the often-requested but rarely played 'Rosie', 1998's 'Undiscovered Soul' album opener 'Made In America' & the perfect modern-day bridal waltz 'All That Really Matters' .  The band rejoined Richie and they finished up with the 80s classic 'Wanted Dead Or Alive' - perfect ending to a perfect tour! Must make special mention of the RSO touring band... Michael Bradford on bass, Veronica Bellino on drums & Adelaide muso Rob Vorel on keys - very tight band, loved watching you guys play - thank you! 
And huge thanks to Connie - my touring partner in crime, hope we can do it again & soon! We hear the RSO debut album should be released in the 1st quarter of 2017 (don't take that as gospel - things change esp in the crazy business that is rock 'n' roll!) & this fan is sure as hell ready! Thank you doesn't seem to cut it but thank you for sharing your time & talent - here's to the next time! Bring on 2017 & the new music... Xxx 

 
 
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So many hits & so many memories! Thank you GM!
When I initially read the headline, I immediately hit Google... Surely it was a hoax! 5 mins later with no real results & with more credible sources reporting the pop icon's death... the realisation had hit, 2016 had summoned another of our musical heroes! As it was Boxing Day here in Australia, my first reaction was... seriously with 5 days left, you hadn't taken enough of them?!?!? As with Prince & Bowie I was in sudden shock & sadness. And then thoughts turned to my cousin, WHAM and then George solo were her absolute favs! I remember her bedroom walls plastered with George & Andrew and their music was on constant repeat. When the unthinkable happened & the duo called it quits, she went home early from school... Like most of the teenage girl population she was in mourning. Yesterday (& today & for a while to come) she mourned again. While I love George & his music, my tears were for her & the memories we shared... His music has formed part of our lives' soundtrack. And this is what I would point out to those who have criticised the outpouring of grief. Yes we might not have known him personally but when you have loved someone (albeit from afar) for so long, the grief & sadness will surface. When we sing along to their lyrics & it evokes whatever emotion, there's a connection that can last a lifetime! One of my biggest musical regrets is never seeing you live, but I do remember the last time you were here, I could hear your performance from my place! 
All I could impart to my cousin was 'turn his music up loud & smile at the memories'... While I think to myself, lord only knows how I will react & cope with such news about my musical heroes 💜💔
RIP George Michael, YOG, Yiorg - eternal thanks for the music & a lifetime of memories xxx 
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Love this album... Back on constant repeat!