NEW YORK – Bon Jovi rocked Central Park, New Jersey style.
The rock group gave a free concert Saturday night on the park's Great Lawn, delighting tens of thousands of fans who sang along with the lyrics on a glorious summer evening.
The band opened with "Livin' on a Prayer" and belted out songs including "Born to be my Baby," "Lost Highway," and "Runaway."
Jon Bon Jovi, for one, was relieved that a long tour was winding down.
"It's good not to call room service. I can tell you that, you know?" the singer said before the concert. "It feels real good not to dial 9 to get a cup of coffee. For me that was very nice this morning. But what a way to end up.
"We started 10 nights in New Jersey and ended up with the biggest show of the year in New York at Central Park on the Great Lawn. It's very rarified air, you know? We know there are only a half a dozen shows that have ever been on this grass."
New York City officials gave away 60,000 tickets for the concert. Some 50,000 people were expected to attend. The free tickets were reportedly being hawked by scalpers on eBay for as much as $1,500 a pair.
Bon Jovi said that drama did not put a damper on the show.
"No. I mean look, it's all behind us at this point," he told The Associated Press. "So we did what we could for our fans and for the people of New York and wanted to share a beautiful Saturday summer night with them."
Hundreds of fans lined up early — in some cases as many as six hours before the show's 8 p.m. start.
For some, it was a family affair. Josephine Ribaudo-McGrane, 34, of Queens, arrived at 1 p.m. wearing a well-worn Bon Jovi concert T-shirt she bought in 2006. She came with her mother, 12-year-old son, 8-year-old daughter, an adult sister and her best friend.
"They've gotten me through a lot of rough times," she said, adding that her iPod is stocked with 200 Bon Jovi songs. "I don't think there's a song that I don't like."
The show was billed as a prelude to the Major League Baseball All-Star game at Yankee Stadium. The game on Tuesday will mark the final season at the Bronx ballpark. A new stadium is being built.
The band joins other greats who have performed on the Great Lawn, including Paul Simon, Barbra Streisand and Pope John Paul II. Garth Brooks also performed at the park's North Meadow.
Bon Jovi performs at Madison Square Garden on Monday and Tuesday as part of its "Lost Highway" tour. Those shows require paid admission.
The quartet has been rocking for more than two decades and has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.