Jon Bon Jovi sings for a favorite charity at Starland Ballroom
"You did a good deed," Jon Bon Jovi told the sold-out house at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, at the conclusion of his ninety-minute concert.
He'd led his seventeen(!) piece group through rock classics ("Start Me Up," "So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star") and pop-soul favorites ("Glad All Over" by the Dave Clark Five, Wilson Pickett's "634-5789"), made room onstage for Southside Johnny for a few numbers, and vacated the premises for a fifteen-minute stretch while his band of Friends took center stage.
He did some of his own material, too. Sixteen songs into the show, Bon Jovi gave the crowd what it wanted the most, playing "Wanted, Dead or Alive," "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Who Says You Can't Go Home," and "We Weren't Born to Follow," the lead single from "The Circle" LP. Later, he'd encore with an acoustic -- and considerably defamiliarized -- version of "Living on a Prayer," his signature song.
The show -- not quite a Bon Jovi concert, and not quite a blithe classic pop revue -- was held to benefit the Parker Family Health Center, a clinic in Red Bank. The Center provides primary care, immunization, mammograms, diabetes treatments, and other services for Monmouth County residents (the Parker Family clinic counts 85,000) who are underinsured or uninsured. Bon Jovi spoke about the importance of the Parker Family Health Center between songs, and discussed his own continuing commitment to its operation. He talked about the clinic without rock star bluster; he was conversational, and, at times, emotional.
That gravity colored his performances. He opened the show with a slow acoustic rendition of the Beatles' "Help," turned "Lonely" (a song from the "Lost Highway" sessions) into a plaintive entreaty, and, most remarkably, stripped the usual triumphalism from "Livin' On a Prayer." Instead of soaring to the high chorus, he altered the melody, kept his voice low, and allowed his six-voice choir to sing the hook. On Thursday night, Gina and Tommy weren't just defiant rock and rollers: They were broke kids lost in the system, maybe a little frightened, too. They were the kind of people, Bon Jovi implied, who might need the services of the Parker Family Health Clinic. This reimagining stripped some of the exhilaration from the song, but it demonstrated its flexibility. "Livin' on a Prayer" is more than just an arena-rock shoutalong.
The concert came on the heels of a Billboard.com interview in which Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres, in an unguarded moment, admitted he could use an extensive breather. Guitarist Richie Sambora was quick to dispel the idea of a Bon Jovi hiatus, but as the veteran rock group nears the end of the touring cycle for "The Circle," the immediate future of the band is in question. If Torres really does need some time off -- and let's be fair, the guy has been pounding it out at the drumkit nonstop since "The Circle" came out -- don't be surprised if the Bon Jovi frontman throws himself even further into charitable, or even political, efforts.
JON BON JOVI & FRIENDS
"Help" (Beatles cover)
"So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star" (Byrds cover)
"See See Rider" (traditional blues song associated with Chuck Willis)
"Glad All Over" (Dave Clark Five cover)
"I Can't Help Myself" (Four Tops cover)
"Pretty Woman" (Roy Orbison cover)
"Blue Bayou" (Linda Ronstadt cover, Jon Bon Jovi offstage)
"Nothin' But a Party" (with Southside Johnny)
"Hold on I'm Coming" (with Southside Johnny)
"Start Me Up" (Rolling Stones cover)
"She's Not There" (Zombies cover, Jon Bon Jovi offstage)
"Ooh Child" (Five Stairsteps cover, Jon Bon Jovi offstage)
"Somebody to Love (Jefferson Airplane cover, Jon Bon Jovi offstage)
"Build Me Up Buttercup" (Foundations cover, Jon Bon Jovi offstage)
"Midnight Confessions" (Bobby Bandiera vocals)
"Wanted Dead or Alive"
"We Weren't Born to Follow"
"You Give Love a Bad Name"
"Who Says You Can't Go Home"
"Livin' on a Prayer"
"Treat Her Right" (with Southside Johnny)
"634-5789" (with Southside Johnny)
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Bon Jovi Needs 'A Break' When Tour Wraps, Says Drummer
As Bon Jovi prepares to start its 2011 tour schedule, the group members say what happens after they come off the road in July is anyone's guess.
"I think we need to take a break," drummer Tico Torres told Billboard.com during a conference call with reporters. "It's a long, extensive tour since last February, not just the tour but putting it together, doing the record ['The Circle']. It's a long process, and I think it's important for us to just get away from the audience for a bit. Sometimes you need to get away so people can appreciate you better, and you also have to get away to live your life and create and recharge... So the best thing I can tell you is we're gonna need a couple years off for sure."
Bon Jovi: Billboard's Top Touring Act of the Year
Guitarist Richie Sambora, however, countered, "We do need a little bit of a break, but not that much of a break, 'cause what's going to happen is there's more songs to be written and... Y'know, guess what? We want to be the Rolling Stones. I know I do."
Bon Jovi's 2010 Circle tour was the top trek of the year, playing to 1.5 million fans and grossing more than $146.5 million. The group, which released a "Greatest Hits" set in November, starts up again on Feb. 9 in University Park, Pa., for North American dates into late March, then runs through Europe again from June 8-July 31, including a June 25 performance at the Hard Rock Calling festival in London.
Sambora said he had "an extensive conversation" with Jon Bon Jovi earlier this week and concluded, "I don't think we know what the hell's gonna happen" after the tour.
"We're just going out there and working our asses off and enjoying it, actually being the best band of our lives... We're not gonna quit. We're gonna keep on going and writing new, great songs, go in the studio and make great records, evolve more and get back into stadiums and give people a great, great show."
Bon Jovi's stated desire to do another solo album, he added, presents no threat to the continuation of the group. "It gives us a break," Sambora explained. "Everybody gets to be an individual... He's the leader of this band and you've got to respect that... Who knows what the hell he's gonna do, but it's okay with all of us. We're all gonna stick together. We're like a gang."
Sambora and Torres said this year's shows will continue to dig deep into Bon Jovi's repertoire, pulling out album tracks as well as covers. "We pulled out a lot of songs on this tour, maybe 70, 80 songs, (and) a lot of them haven't been anywhere near on radio," Torres notes. "We play differently every night. Unless you come see us 10 nights in a row, or three nights in a row, you won't notice it. It's something we look forward to."
About the only thing that didn't go Bon Jovi's way during the past year was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group was eligible for induction for the first time and made the final ballot but will not be getting in at the March ceremony. Torres said that "it's nice to be included in those things," but Sambora acknowledged some disappointment.
"I think it's a boys club over there," he said. "I don't know what they're doing, [if] they're looking for ratings or what they're doing. Is it legitimate? That's my question. Our legitimacy comes from our fans; you sell 125 million records and have the two biggest tours in the last three years, I'll take that. If I would complain, nobody would listen."
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
I know, I know it seems like it's been forever, but there is a new chapter of New Beginnings up for your reading pleasure.
Monday, January 24, 2011
EXCLUSIVE: Jon Bon Jovi, Seth Meyers Join 'New Year's Eve
Halle Berry, Jessica Biel and Robert De Niro are among the actors in director Garry Marshall's all-star group; German actor Til Schweiger also boards.
Jon Bon Jovi and Seth Meyers are putting on their party hats for New Line’s all-star ensemble New Year’s Eve, being directed by Garry Marshall.
German actor Til Schweiger has also closed a deal to board the production.
Bon Jovi and Meyers join a cast that counts Halle Berry, Jessica Biel, Abigail Breslin, Robert De Niro, Zac Efron, Ashton Kutcher, Lea Michele, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hilary Swank and Sofia Vergara among its cast.
The movie tells intertwining stories of a group of New Yorkers as they navigate their way through bittersweet drama and romance over the course of New Year's Eve.
Bon Jovi is playing -- here’s a stretch -- a successful rock star who once dumped Berry’s character of a caterer but now finds himself face to face with again at a party.
Meyers will play a broke dad who wants his wife (Biel) to deliver the first baby of the year in order to win a $25,000 reward and finds himself in a heated competition.
Bon Jovi last movie appearance was National Lampoon’s Pucked in 2006. Meyers, head writer of Saturday Night Live, last appeared in Spring Breakdown with Amy Poehler and Parker Posey.
Bon Jovi and Meyers are repped by CAA. Meyers is additionally repped by Brillstein Entertainment Partners.
Schweiger, repped by Anonymous Content, appeared in Inglourious Basterds.