Together and with The Power of We, we can start a revolution. One Soul at a time... ~Jon Bon Jovi *** There's a Story on every street corner, my friend. All you have to do is open your eyes... ~Richie Sambora

A Review...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

From A&E Interactive Blog, a review of last night's show in San Jose... it's not all favorable, but not horrible either. In my opinion, not a bad review.

By Jim Harrington

No rocker has aged better than Jon Bon Jovi.

That point is to be taken literally, first and foremost, given that the 47-year-old vocalist looked a good 15 years younger as he led his band Bon Jovi in concert at the HP Pavilion on Monday night. He also exhibited a type of sustained energy through his group’s two-hour-plus set in San Jose that would make most performers half his age jealous.

Yet, that comment also works figuratively, in regard to the band’s music. The fans that came out to this stop on Bon Jovi’s newly launched “The Circle” tour – which also touches down on March 2 at Sacramento’s Arco Arena – certainly didn’t act like they were listening to a group that recorded its first hit single (“Runaway”) nearly 30 years ago. Instead, they treated Bon Jovi like it’s still a relevant group, and greeted the new material, off of last year’s “The Circle,” with nearly the same gusto that they showed the old radio favorites.

Just ask Billy Joel, Elton John, KISS or any other act with a career spanning 25-plus years what a rarity that is in the classic-rock world.

This atypical situation is a direct result of Jon Bon Jovi’s unswerving commitment to stay off the nostalgia circuit. That’s not to say fans won’t get a big dose of nostalgia at a Bon Jovi show – that comes in spades, thanks to the inclusion of such oldies as “Livin’ On a Prayer” and “Bad Medicine” – but it’s part of a mix that is more focused on displaying what the band has been up to recently.

What has the band been up to recently? Well, since it’s Bon Jovi we’re talking about, the answer, as always, is plenty. The HP date nicely illustrated the band’s ongoing effort to hone a more mature – some would say, more age-appropriate – country-rock sound. The new material sounds more like something one would hear on a John Mellencamp record than from one of Bon Jovi’s classic ‘80s pop-rock albums, which explains why the group has been able to cultivate a “New Country” audience to go along with its existing classic-rock crowd.

Some might knock the group’s country material – and that’s easy to do, since it can come across like Rascal Flatts on a bad night – but at least Bon Jovi is making an effort to grow as a musical entity.

And, for sure, there is still plenty of room for growth. While a far better outing than the group’s jumbled mess of a show held at the same venue back in April 2008, Monday’s gig did showcase all the things that keep Bon Jovi from being one of the better live acts in the business. The short list would include a shockingly thin song book of memorable tunes, less-than-spectacular musicianship and rather clownish behavior from the lead singer.

That’s just one man’s opinion, mind you, and one probably not shared by the fans that made Bon Jovi’s previous tour, “Lost Highway,” the highest-grossing trek of 2008, or the patrons that filled HP to near capacity on Monday night.

Following a poorly received opening set by indie/emo act Dashboard Confessional – truly the wrong choice to kick start an evening of Bon Jovi – the headliners took the stage and opened the show with a rather weak double-shot of the oldie “Blood on Blood” (from 1988’s “New Jersey”) and the new album’s “We Weren’t Born to Follow.” They did recover nicely, however, with a powerful one-two combination of the classic hits “Bad Name” and “Born to be My Baby.”

The crowd – which spanned a huge age range, from grade-school kids to some senior citizens – was appreciative throughout the set. Whatever musical direction Jon roamed, from the country-tinged anthem “Lost Highway” to the overly sentimental power ballad “When We Were Beautiful,” the fans trailed right along.

Few play to an audience like Jon Bon Jovi does. Yet, he adds so many theatrical flourishes – from hugging his guitar to show his sincerity to holding his outstretched arm into the crowd to, well, show his sincerity – that very little of what he does comes across as sincere. He sings every song like he’s auditioning for a spot on Broadway, and he’s so busy acting the part of the rock star that he often seems to forget what it means to be one. (Jon should watch a tape of his fellow New Jersey native, Bruce Springsteen, if he wants to understand the difference.)

Despite that knock, Jon Bon Jovi is Bon Jovi, at least on the live stage. His fellow band members do very little to draw the focus away from the front man in concert. That’s even true of his best-known sideman, overrated guitarist Richie Sambora, who showed the same degree of depth and versatility with his fret work that his former wife, Heather Locklear, has displayed in her acting career.

All of those negatives, however, can’t outweigh the one main positive: Bon Jovi is one of the few acts that manage to come across as both timely and timeless. It was the latter that seemed most important at the close of the show, as the New Jersey rockers completed “The Circle” with a high-octane encore of “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

In all, the show featured just enough greatest-hits material. Yet, the evening still seemed more about the new songs than the old. That’s a balance that probably every classic-rock act would like to strike. The truth is, however, Bon Jovi is one of the few that can actually pull it off.

Set list:
Blood on Blood
We Weren’t Born to Follow
Bad Name
Born to be My Baby
Los Highway
When We Were Beautiful
Superman Tonight
Keep the Faith
We got It Going On
It’s My Life
Homebound Train
Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover)
Bed of Roses
Something for the Pain
Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night
Work for the Working Man
Bad Medicine/Bad Case of Loving You (Robert Palmer cover)
Who Says You Can’t Go Home
Love’s the Only Rule
Thorn in My Side

Wanted Dead or Alive
Livin’ on a Prayer


Anonymous,  February 23, 2010 at 3:59 PM  

I think it's safe to say this reviewer doesn't like anyone. Richie overrated? More like under-rated and under-appreciated!

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I am and always have been a Bon Jovi fan. This blog is just my obsession taken a step further, my imagination in high gear if you will. I love to read and decided to see what would happen when I took that love of the written word and ramped it up a bit.

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