Shot from the heart: Students photograph Bon Jovi concert

Students of the College’s Communication Studies Department got to experience a day behind the scenes at a Bon Jovi concert. As a photography minor, Krystal Spencer spent the day taking photos. (Krystal Spencer / Staff Photographer)

The sound of 18,500 fans in the Wells Fargo center was deafening for a Wednesday. And once the first chords to Bon Jovi’s “Just Older” rang out, the volume increases. As my shutter clicks rapidly, I was in disbelief that this was my life.

Ten students from the Communication Studies Department were “interns” for the day at the Bon Jovi Live 2011 Tour in Philadelphia on March 2.

It was organized to provide the opportunity for students to gain insight into the industry, based on our fields of studies.

Coordinated by class of 2005 alumnus Mike Savas, we were given an inside look into how a concert is created.

At 9 a.m. we met Savas, who works in Management/VIP Relations. While his job concerns the welfare of ticketed guests, throughout the day he worked from his “office,” a converted locker room backstage. Savas revealed he originally worked in the record industry but realized it wasn’t the career he wanted.

“I wanted to do what I wanted to do,” he said. “I wanted to enjoy life.”

Since changing his career, he’s worked with the Black Eyed Peas and Britney Spears but spends most of his time with Bon Jovi.

We sat in the arena, watching 100 workers assemble over 100,000 pounds of equipment for almost 10 hours. Then we met Jesse, the production manager. His job focused on planning the entire tour. When the tour goes overseas, he’s in charge of figuring out how to get the equipment between venues which sometimes involves a plane or a boat.

“My favorite part of touring is traveling,” he said. “It never feels like the same routine.”

Jesse has been with Bon Jovi for a decade and has also worked for The Eagles and John Mellencamp. During the interview, he gave us a tour of the newly built stage.

As an added bonus of the day, Savas informed us that we would be allowed to bring our cameras to photograph the first two songs of the concert alongside other members of the press. At 7:30 p.m., fellow senior communication studies major Jenna Bush and I headed to the pit in front of the stage.

The most difficult part of photographing wasn’t finding a shot. It was trying to stay focused, especially when “You Give Love a Bad Name” was the second song. Both Jenna and I found ourselves running back and forth constantly, making sure that we covered all angles of the stage. Four hundred images later, I’m still not sure I got every shot.

Once we finished photographing I felt drained. I spent the majority of the day on my feet taking pictures. Watching the concert from my seat seemed like the perfect idea … but then Bon Jovi played “It’s My Life,” my favorite song.

I sprang to my feet, adrenaline surging as I screamed every lyric. How could I deny myself this moment? It would only be Jon Bon Jovi’s 49th birthday once, and if he could dance on top of platforms, the least I could do was sing along — well, more like shout. The crowd cheered in ecstasy when guitarist Richie Sambora took the reigns for “Lay Your Hands On Me.”

“It ain’t Sunday, but I’m taking you to church anyway!” he said.

After the regular set ended, we waited for the encore that included “Wanted Dead or Alive” and Bon Jovi’s legendary hit, “Livin’ on a Prayer.” For a song older than a couple thousand audience members, including myself, the performance proved that 28 years later, Bon Jovi has transcended a fickle music industry with positive lyrics, little frills and loyalty to their fans.

From the helpful hints of Savas and Jesse to taking pictures to watching the concert, it was an experience that is truly the icing on the cake of my time here at the College.