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 www.bonjovi-archives.com 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

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