Let me first say this: I am aware that there are many (some?) people out there who like Bon Jovi on a serious level, and consider them as legitimate a rock & roll band as say, U2. I am not one of those people. I don’t even really like them that much. I liked them when I was a kid -- it took me a few years to grow out of naming “Living’ on a Prayer” as my favorite song, and I distinctly remember “Bad Medicine” coming in first on Z100’s “Top Five at 9” for approximately 829 straight days. Then I became old enough to start appreciating better and more influential music -- like Cyprus Hill -- and I never took the Jov very seriously ever again.
My wife hates Bon Jovi. In fact, she forbade me from putting any Bon Jovi songs on our wedding playlist (I really thought “Livin’ on a Prayer” would get the crowd bumpin’!). This is most likely because, after being dragged out of Brooklyn as a teenager and into New Jersey, my wife has, more or less, despised anything associated with the Garden State from that moment forward (with the possible exception of me). I’m not even entirely sure that it’s the Jov’s music, per say, that she doesn’t like, but in her eyes, Bon Jovi cannot hold a candle to accomplished artists such as Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond (both, coincidentally, from Brooklyn.) However, over the past few years, my wife has softened on the Jov, and was very much excited to see them live.
All that said, we did not attend this show to make fun of the Jov. No, we would never disrespect the Jov like that. I mean, we knew it was going to be at least a little cheesy, but we both also genuinely like a few of their songs. At least I do. We were excited! So much so that we decided to tailgate an hour or so before the show started. We -- my wife and I and four of our friends -- were, literally, the only people tailgating in our parking lot. People around here just don’t know how to act when it comes to the Jov.
Then it was show time! Our seats were high up and behind the stage, and our best view was of the drummer’s head. I was debating telling everyone that we were backstage at the Bon Jovi concert, but I decided against it. Most of the time, I watched the humongous TV screen in front of us.
Daughtry, of American Idol fame, was the opener. I realize that it’s definitely not cool to like Daughtry if you’re not a 12-year old girl, but I’m sorry -- he’s pretty good. For one thing, his voice sounds great live, and he’s got a few really catchy songs. I’m not going to sit here and hate on Daughtry, and if you think that’s what I’m going to do, then you’re reading the wrong blog, mister! Daughtry rules! Not really, but still.
The Jov then came out to much adulation. I forget what song they opened with, but it was an old one that I knew, and I was pumped! Bon Jovi himself was wearing a sleeveless leather vest -- standard -- and, I can say this because I am comfortable in my sexuality, was looking rather flawless. Honestly, this is why I can’t take them seriously as a band. A really great rock band that’s been around for over two decades would have a lead singer that’s either dead, or who looks like Keith Richards. (Or -- in the aforementioned U2’s case -- who’s curing disease in Africa.) Bon Jovi looks like he just stepped out of a freakin’ Kohl’s catalog.
Anyway, for the next twelve hours, Bon Jovi performed all of their new songs. Of course, by “new songs” I am referring to anything they may have released since 1990. (I was mostly under the impression, until last Friday, that their last album was the “Young Guns II” soundtrack.) Holy crap is their new stuff cheesetastic! Did you know that many of their more recent hits were not recorded in a studio, but in a cheese factory?! That is a fact. To wit:
When the world gets in my way, I say…Have a nice day!
Wow, Bon Jovi -- you really told the world whose boss on that one! I doubt the world will be coming around anytime soon to get in your way, based on your sarcastic wishes that the world have a nice day! How did this song get past the sensors?!
My heart is like an open highway, like Frankie said I did it my way
My heart is also like an open highway, and I just exited at the left ventricle so I could attend a Bon Jovi concert, and it was well worth it! That guy does it HIS way! Just like Frank Sinatra would -- in a sleeveless leather vest. There was also another song about living in a small town, and how it’s great to live in a small town, and how small towns are great, and also small, and very town-like. This also included a picture montage on the giant television, which featured pictures of Sayreville, NJ -- represent! -- and horses, and firefighters, and open roads, and miners, and other aspects of small town life that Bon Jovi apparently now represents twenty years after wearing loads of makeup and hair spray. During this montage, my wife -- who was sitting behind me -- tapped me on the shoulder and said, “When did the Jov turn into Cougarpuss?” By the way, we call John
Bon Jovi, being all blue collar in rural Manhattan
Hey, told you I wasn’t going to make fun of Bon Jovi! Seriously though, they are really good live performers. Like Daughtry, Bon Jovi’s voice sounds great in person, which is not something every singer can claim. (I’m looking at you, Jimmy Buffet!) And when they did their old stuff, they rocked. Hard. One of the best moments of the night was when Daughtry came out and sang “Blaze of Glory” with the Jov and nearly brought the house down. That was awesome. They tried to end the show without doing “Wanted Dead or Alive,” but the crowd wasn’t having it. So they came back for an encore, and rocked that one out, and then followed by performing three more songs from the new album. Oh well.
Overall it was a good show, and we had a great time. Afterwards, since we still had beer left in the cooler, we finished our tailgating party. I ended up urinating in between two cars in the parking lot, and if any cops were to approach, my plan was to tell them to “have a nice day!” And then run. But they never came. Which was probably for the best.