Thursday, February 9, 2017
Review: Bon Jovi brings rock, introspection
Fans who came to see Bon Jovi Wednesday night expecting to rock out mindlessly to the hair-metal hits of the ’80s were in for a surprise.
The New Jersey rockers, who kicked off their “This House is Not for Sale” tour at Bon Secours Wellness Arena, played some hits, to be sure, but interspersed between classic songs and new material was a surprising amount of introspection from lead singer Jon Bon Jovi.
The 2½-hour concert, played to a jam-packed house, opened with the title cut from “This House is Not for Sale,” with the band performing behind a sheer curtain adorned with a photo of the house from the album cover.
The curtain fell to reveal a minimalist set in which the band and the songs were the focus. This was Bon Jovi’s first Greenville show in 11 years, and Jon Bon Jovi told the crowd the band would be playing songs “old, new, borrowed, blue.”
But about halfway through the show, things turned serious.
This marks Bon Jovi’s first time on the road since 2013, when longtime guitarist Richie Sambora left the band in mid-tour. Losing the decades-long musical partnership was apparently devastating for the singer.
After he came off the road, Jon Bon Jovi told the crowd, “It was a long time before I thought about writing again. I had to decide if we were still relevant.”
In between the songs “God Bless This Mess” and “Scars on This Guitar,” the singer talked about the struggles of finding his place in music after all these years. It was apparent that the concert tour is as much about regaining his musical confidence and emotional connection as it is about screaming guitars and songs about Gina and Tommy.
Replacing Sambora on lead guitar is Phil X, who’s wildly talented and has charisma for days. X adds new colors to familiar riffs, and he and Jon Bon Jovi play well off of each other. But while the easy chemistry remains between Bon Jovi and his other longtime bandmates, keyboardist David Bryan and drummer Tico Torres, I still missed the interplay between Sambora and Bon Jovi.
While many rock bands with as lengthy a career and as extensive a catalog as Bon Jovi tend to build a concert on the foundation of the most familiar tunes, this band played a number of new songs, and some older but less iconic tunes as well.
But the hits still made an appearance, and an impression. During “Lay Your Hands on Me,” Jon Bon Jovi swiveled his hips, played air-keyboards and strutted around the stage like a youthful Mick Jagger.
For “Bad Medicine,” he flashed a spotlight on different areas of the audience, and on “Keep the Faith,” the singer shook a pair of maracas.
The three-song encore included “Wanted: Dead or Alive” and concluded with a version of “Livin’ on a Prayer” that began with Jon Bon Jovi on an acoustic guitar and finished with an arena of voices singing the chorus.
In the song, Tommy and Gina have each other “and that’s a lot.” Bon Jovi and the audience made it clear that they have each other too, and on Wednesday, it seemed like more than a lot.