Saturday, January 31, 2009

Aussie Aussie Aussie...

Arena Football might be suspended but there is still the Super Bowl. If I remember, I'll get up early on Monday morning our time to watch it. I've never actually watched a full game of American football in my life, but former Geelong Cats star Ben Graham is going to be the first Aussie in the Super Bowl. Even though he's just a punter, it's my patriotic duty to barrack for Arizona. (I guess the American equivalent of "barrack" in the previous sentence would be "root", but in Australia, to "root" means to have sex. Free language lesson for you. Gotta love regional slang.) Plus Bruce Springsteen is playing at half time, even if it's only for 12 minutes.

Ben Graham's 85-metre kick-in, 1999 Australian Football League season:

And the "We Got It Going On" Arena football promo:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Poll: Favourite Bon Jovi album?

There's a new poll up on the right hand side of this blog. Pretty straightforward question: What is your favourite album? I only listed the band's studio albums of new material, but there is an option for "Other" if you're a fan of This Left Feels Right or the solo albums or whatever.

Personally I'm a big fan of Bon Jovi's 90s output, both band and solo, and These Days is my favourite album by any artist. That's almost the cliche favourite among diehards, but to quote JD from Scrubs "If my heart could write songs, they'd sound like these." (Zach Braff's character was talking about a Dido album, but it's still a cool quote.) On the other hand, I've been a bit critical of Bon Jovi's work this decade overall, but Have a Nice Day was released at a pivotal point in my life and has a special meaning to me too.

Point is, Bon Jovi has been around for quarter of a century now, and has fans spanning at least three generations, whose tastes and experiences are vastly different.

PS - I didn't spell "favourite" wrong; I'm Australian, and we use British spellings. :P

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lost Highway Tour wrap (very long post)

I promised a Lost Highway Tour wrap at the conclusion of my Magic Memory series (complete list + links below) more than two weeks ago, before Jon distracted me by popping up at various political events, so here it is now. I try to be fair, so I'll criticise when I feel it's warranted, and praise when it's deserved.

LEG 1: USA & Canada

Lost Highway was released in June 2007 and after a series of promotional gigs in the UK (opening the O2 Arena), Japan, and North America over June and July, Bon Jovi began ten nights at New Jersey's Prudential Center on October 25. But what should have been their grand stand fell short of standard. Jon's voice wasn't the best and the fiddle and steel pedal were overused in the older songs. The shows were overpriced; Jon claimed they rehearsed 73 songs for those shows, but ended up only playing 49 different songs; not one of the shows genuinely sold out (despite what is claimed on Lost Highway: the Concert DVD). They did play some rare gems like "Wild in the Streets", "Just Older", "Last Man Standing" and "Stranger in this Town" but these were too few and far between. Nights #3 and #9 were pretty good shows but it's a shame for their home state fans that Bon Jovi didn't return to Jersey after hitting their straps later in the tour.

Bon Jovi then headed to Canada for 12 shows in November and December. Christmas songs were performed in the last six shows (including "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" for the first time). Highlight was Calgary (December 13, 2007) which lasted two and a half hours and included "Mystery Train" and acoustic performances of "Diamond Ring" and "Never Say Goodbye". "I'd Die For You" also made its tour debut in Toronto (December 7) and the original version of "Blaze of Glory" was played for the first time since 2003 in Vancouver (December 16), the last show of the leg.

LEG 2: Japan, Australia, New Zealand

Bon Jovi began their Asian/Australasian leg in January with four shows in Japan. The band apparently had the flu in Japan, which would probably account for the terrible vocals that were humiliatingly broadcast on WOWOW TV and subsequently online (Tokyo, January 14). However, the sets also left quite a bit to be desired and for some reason, "Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen from Mars" closed three of the shows.

The band then headed east for Bon Jovi's first Australian tour (not including promo gigs or the Rumba festival) and first New Zealand show in 12 years. Richie Sambora sang "I'll Be There For You" for the first of many times on the tour in Melbourne (January 19). The highlight of the whole leg was the second night in Sydney (January 22), which included "Wild in the Streets", "Never Say Goodbye" and "Someday I'll Be Saturday Night" acoustic.

LEG 3: USA & Canada

Bon Jovi began their second North American leg in February, with Daughtry as the opening act for all the shows and Chris Daughtry joining the band on stage for "Blaze of Glory" at some of them. There was also a bomb scare at Fort Lauderdale but the show went on, albeit much later than usual. Best shows of the leg were Chicago (February 26) and Kansas City (April 22).

Making their tour debut during this leg were: "Misunderstood" (Chicago, February 24), "Wild is the Wind" (Chicago, February 26), "Blood Money" (Philadelphia, March 3; played for the first time since 1997), "Open All Night" (Uncasville, March 7; played for the first time EVER), "I Get a Rush" and "I Got the Girl" (Uncasville, March 8), "Garageland" (Toronto, March 12), "Miss Fourth of July" (Toronto, March 13), "Damned" (St Paul, March 19; first time since 2003), "Always" (Des Moines, April 20), "Hey God" and "One Wild Night" (Kansas City, April 22; both for the first time since 2001).

This leg was a bit inconsistent but the band certainly showed signs of its best form.

LEG 4: UAE, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Ireland, England, Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Scotland

Just prior to the start of the European tour, Bon Jovi played in Abu Dhabi on May 20 for the first time ever, a show which included the original "Bed of Roses" for the first time since 2003. The European leg was where Bon Jovi really blew us away, and some of the best shows included Munich (May 24), Barcelona (June 1), Frankfurt (June 3), Amsterdam (June 13), Randers (June 19) and Manchester (June 22). Jon also sang "These Days" for the first time on the tour in Leipzig (May 25).

Songs that made their tour debut on this leg: "Stick to Your Guns" (Amsterdam, June 13; first time since 1988!), "Dry County" (Brussels, June 14), "This Ain't a Love Song" (first time since 2000) and "Undivided" (both Randers, June 19), "Last Cigarette" (Manchester, June 22), "Lie to Me" (Bristol, June 25), and "I Believe" (London, June 28).

About half of my Magic Memories (complete list + links below) were from Europe so I won't go on about it here, other than to say it was, hands down, the best six weeks of the tour.

LEG 5: Canada & USA

It was back to North America for the final leg of the tour in July, beginning with Bayfest festival and including a free gig in Central Park, culminating in the two Madison Square Garden concerts on July 14 and 15 that were filmed for DVD. These last few shows were a bit of a fizzer following some of the awesome performances and sets we saw in Europe, but then again they are two different audiences. Best shows from this leg were probably Central Park (July 12) and the first MSG show.

And there's a wrap! A combination of pleasantly surprising setlists, strong performances and rediscovered vocals made the Lost Highway Tour Bon Jovi's best this decade. It was what inspired me to start this blog and the LH Magic Memory series.

Complete list of Magic Memories:

#1: Always (electric), Des Moines
#2: Kansas City 2nd show
#3: Chicago 3rd show
#4: Mercy (Duffy cover), Munich
#5: David Bryan in Toronto
#6: Welcome to Abu Dhabi
#7: I Believe, London
#8: These Days, Punchestown
#9: Who Says You Can't Go Home, Coventry
#10: Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, Dallas
#11: Dry County, Brussels
#12: Can't Help Falling in Love/Bed of Roses, Barcelona
#13: Rock in Rio
#14: Randers
#15: Lie to Me, Bristol
#16: Frankfurt
#17: Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen cover), Hamburg
#18: Central Park
#19: Damned, St Paul
#20: Stick to Your Guns, Amsterdam
#21: Stuttgart
#22: Stranger in this Town, Newark
#23: Garageland, Anaheim
#24: Manchester
#25: Blood on Blood, New York City

Thank you to Bon Jovi for making me "believe".

Special thanks must be extended to Seb, who runs where the majority of my setlist information came from.

And thanks of course to all of you for reading the blog! Hope you stick around. :)

Feel free to drop me a line via a comment or e-mail (in my profile) if you have any feedback, positive or negative, or just want to say hey.

LOST HIGHWAY TOUR (Oct 2007-July 2008)
Jon Bon Jovi (vocals, guitar, percussion)
Richie Sambora (guitar, talkbox, backing vocals, vocals)
Tico Torres (drums, percussion)
David Bryan (keyboards, backing vocals, vocals)
Hugh McDonald (bass, backing vocals)
Bobby Bandiera (guitar, backing vocals, vocals)
Lorenza Ponce (violin, backing vocals)
Kurt Johnston (pedal steel guitar, backing vocals) - only for first part of tour

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

JBJ at the Commander-in-Chief Ball

Jon Bon Jovi featuring Bobby Bandiera, Lorenza Ponce, Jeff Kazee and Everett Bradley.



"Who Says You Can't Go Home" and "Here Comes the Sun" were also played.

Here's an interview of Jon with Katie Couric after the performance:

I wish President Obama all the best in these very trying times and hope he can bring unity and deliver what the world needs.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jon Bon Jovi at Clinton fundraiser

Videos from the Hillary Clinton fundraiser in New York that JBJ headlined on January 15.

HELP! (Beatles cover; partial)


LIVIN' ON A PRAYER (partial)

A CHANGE IS GONNA COME (Sam Cooke cover)

HERE COMES THE SUN (Beatles cover)

Jon's sounding pretty good here, although I wish he had covered Little Steven's "I Am A Patriot" like he did at a John Edwards rally in 2004.

Jon is also set to perform at the Barack Obama inaugural celebration.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

LH Magic Memory #25: Blood on Blood in New York City

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and Magic Memory #25 is the last in this series of special moments from the Lost Highway tour that I began back in July. While I didn't review them in any particular order, perhaps it's fitting that #25 takes us to the final show of the tour. July 15, 2008 was the second of two shows at New York's Madison Square Garden, which were both filmed for a still-unreleased tour DVD. To be frank, the set for this grand finale was a bit disappointing from the perspective of a diehard hoping for some rarities like the ones that had appeared in Europe, and for those expecting the last show to be as good as or better than the night before. However, in my opinion, "Blood on Blood" was the highlight of the MSG shows in terms of the performance.

Jon begins the song acoustically from the podium in the middle of the crowd. The full band kicks in electric after the first chorus; Jon is a fan's delight and a security guard's nightmare in his crowd interactions along the catwalk, finally making it back to the main stage in time for the bridge. Jon was recently voted third in a poll of rock gods, and this performance was the front man showing off his finest.

Well, I hope you've enjoyed the LH Magic Memories and continue to enjoy the rest of my blog. I'll do a final wrap-up post of the tour in the coming days, and then I guess that will be it as far as the Lost Highway tour is concerned. I know there were other great tour moments that weren't covered in this 25-part series but if I were to get to everything, I'd probably still be writing about the Lost Highway tour halfway through the next tour! ;) Bon Jovi are working on a new album now so there are exciting times ahead.

We were so young
One for all and all for one
Just as sure as the river's gonna run
Blood on blood, one on one
We'd still be standin' when all was said and done
Blood on blood, one on one
And I'll be there for you 'til kingdom come
Blood on blood

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

LH Magic Memory #24: Manchester

The second last Magic Memory in this series takes us to June 22, 2008 in the City of Manchester, UK. This was probably the last real epic show of the tour. I'm not saying the concerts that followed weren't good, but Bon Jovi sets a high standard for live shows, and Manchester lasted a marathon two hours and 40 minutes. The show was full of great performances, plus a great set that combined hits and crowd pleasers with some gems for the diehards.

LIVIN' ON A PRAYER - A bit rough but I think it captures the crowd's anticipation and enthusiasm, as well as Jon's showman qualities.

I'D DIE FOR YOU - Always nice to see a Slippery When Wet rarity live.

LAST CIGARETTE - The first (and only) time this was played on the Lost Highway tour and a great surprise to see live. I thought this was lyrically one of the more clever songs from Have a Nice Day. The trippy Beach Boys-style bridge is cool too, but I still wish Jon would give up the smokes.

DIAMOND RING - Jon and Richie gazing lovingly into each other's eyes and declare to the world: "You're my queen and I'm your king".... Oh, I'm kidding. ;) But the two of them share the mic in this beautiful rendition.

ALWAYS - Could never get tired of this being back in the set!

DRY COUNTY - Words cannot express how much I love "Dry County". Just watch. :)

Manchester, UK - City of Manchester Stadium (22/6/08)

I'LL SLEEP WHEN I'M DEAD w/ Jumpin' Jack Flash + Twist & Shout



Just one more left in this series and a wrap-up, but never fear, there are always worthwhile things to blog about in Jovi land. ;)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year

Thought I'd see in the new year with something a little bit different. Here is a J-Pop cover of "Next 100 Years" by Japanese boy band J-FRIENDS, circa 2000.

And the Bon Jovi rock version from the Crush Tour. Probably the band's best guitar solo this decade.

Here's to a happy and prosperous 2009.