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

Review: Bon Jovi Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia 3/31/17

Monday, April 3, 2017

This review hurts me.  I know Jon's voice isn't what it was in the 80's and as a fan I know that the band very nearly killed themselves touring early on.  Jon's voice won't ever be what it was, but, and if any of you were there Friday night maybe you can shed some light, is this reviewer being honest or unduly harsh? Was his voice really that bad?  I haven't been to any shows on the tour - the closest the band has come to my hometown is a 4 hour drive on a week/work night - so I can't and won't judge on video alone.

Bon Jovi is merely a shadow in 2017; an honest concert review


Nearly two years ago, I reviewed Van Halen at PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, and noted the dichotomy that now exists within the legendary band: members Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang Van Halen all still shred with aplomb, but singer David Lee Roth can scarcely carry a tune.
Diamond Dave's squawking that night was a detriment to the group's entire live production. After decades of vocal strain, his instrument just isn't what it used to be -- it's not even close. 
And unfortunately, he's not alone. 
After a largely off-key, two-and-a-half-hour set in Philadelphia Friday night, it is clearer now more than ever that Jon Bon Jovi has entered this dubious category. 
Let me state emphatically, I do not enjoy bashing Bon Jovi. "Slippery When Wet" was one the first CDs I bought with my own money. I take no joy or schadenfreude in ripping an artist who otherwise still puts on a bright, fun show, and who is clearly still trying. 
Besides, it did not seem as though the cheering crowd of 15,000 at Wells Fargo Center minded the bum notes at all. They came to dance, to hear the hits and see Jon, 55, flash that million-dollar smile.
And they received all of that. Every Bon Jovi favorite was rolled out with the appropriate bells and whistles, and the six-piece band behind Jon -- five of which sing backup -- were entirely serviceable, unleashing every guitar and synth solo you'd expect. Lead strummer Phil X has done well as a replacement for Richie Sambora (who left in 2013); on "It's My Life" and "Lay Your Hands On Me," his crunchy solos stole the show.  
But for fans who will be attending Bon Jovi's New York performances April 7 and 8, and spent hundreds of dollars to see the band bust out "Bad Medicine" and "You Give Love A Bad Name," know this: the live show will sound most like the CD when Jon is quiet. When Phil X and keyboardist David Bryan are given their brief vocal solos in "We Got It Goin' On," you will wish they just kept singing.

The list of subpar vocals on Friday night was long, but especially poor were the heavier new track "We Don't Run," the verses to "Born to Be My Baby," and "Have a Nice Day," where every note not landing in Jon's comfortable lower register was either shouted through or missed completely. 
"My voice is shot, I'm going gray, these muscles all ache," Bon Jovi tellingly sings, or tries to, in "God Bless This Mess," a mid-tempo track off the band's November LP "This House Is Not For Sale," which does have its merits. The title track, which opened the show, is a pumping arena-worthy anthem and the melody to "Rollercoaster" actually felt fresh and I'm still humming it this morning.  
But other than the tender new ballad "Scars on This Guitar," where his voice managed to hold its own, nothing matched the original recording. 
Was this just an off night? They are nearing the end of the tour, aren't they? Maybe he's just tired. 
It doesn't seem like it; at his intimate show at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank in October, he showed the same cracks. Like Lee Roth, Jon Bon Jovi was never an overpowering vocal talent to begin with, and it appears that 35 years of rock n' roll have done their bidding. Watch any of the videos in this post and hear for yourself. 
Does this mean he and the band should just hang up their guitar straps and sip Bud Lights in a recliner for the rest of their lives? No, of course not. In spite of his vocal, this was still an engaging show with seasoned musicians, and the arena went wild with each of Jon's hip-shakes, struts, and mention of his own rear-end.
People still want to see them. Throughout Friday's show, Jon expressed his gratitude to the crowd for sticking with the band, and how "This House" is a new beginning for the group. They aren't going anywhere.
If Bon Jovi were to extend its current tour into a summer show at MetLife Stadium, New Jersey's largest venue would easily fill with 55,000 rock fans. Heck, they could probably play three nights in a row and sell out each one. 
But just know, as you are shelling out cash for a good seat, to check out one of New Jersey's most iconic rock acts, you are now doing so at your own risk.

Bon Jovi's set list:


"This House Is Not for Sale"
"Knockout"
"You Give Love a Bad Name"
"Lost Highway"
"Whole Lot of Leavin'"
"Roller Coaster"
"We Weren't Born to Follow"
"I'll Sleep When I'm Dead"
"Runaway"
"We Got It Goin' On"
"Who Says You Can't Go Home"
"It's My Life"
"We Don't Run"
"God Bless This Mess"
"Scars on This Guitar"
"New Year's Day"
"Lay Your Hands on Me"
"Born to Be My Baby"
"Have a Nice Day"
"Bad Medicine"
"Keep the Faith"

Encore:
"Raise Your Hands"
"The Fighter"
"Wanted Dead or Alive"
"Livin' on a Prayer"

2 comments:

Anonymous,  April 4, 2017 at 1:57 PM  


Fortunately... he's not alone! we all may have our voices through the years,
but let me say - as non singer - the spells he's bringing to his and BJ's fans are as audible great as i was listening all along... and i like it this much
Great article and thanks.. your thoughts :)

Anonymous,  April 4, 2017 at 2:11 PM  

Unfortunately... any weired, worn out (for whatever) voices are trying to make his life uncomfortable on touring... they could look at and think back what it means to get pulled down for a nothing although they were the best at staging.
Incomparable... is and was being a moment of it all texting. Keep on rocking good!

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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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