Bon Jovi's Encore Drive-In Nights concert film premiered on 22 May at various drive-ins and cinemas in the US, Canada and Ireland. People also leaked recordings of it online but I opted not to watch or read too much about it before I got to see the show myself -- which finally happened last night, 10 June.
I saw it at a fairly small indoor cinema, not a drive-in as the show was originally intended to be. Jon makes some references to honking horns and sitting on hoods of cars, which obviously isn't possible indoors, but that didn't bother me.
An unplugged set from Dean Lewis opened the show. They were obviously trying to recreate a concert experience, and his set was fine but it felt quite awkward, given we were all very much sitting in a cinema. At one point, a man behind me yelled "Get on with it!". It may not have seemed so jarring at an outdoor cinema with a different vibe.
As far as Dean Lewis goes, I wouldn't classify myself as a fan, but someone who manages to seamlessly get "mate" and "bottoms up" into a pop song deserves kudos. 😎
Now onto Bon Jovi. Let me just start by saying it's an absolute joy to watch Phil X on stage -- the dude is like a kid at Christmas even though the band was literally performing to no one at Asbury Park's Paramount Theatre. (Crowd noises were edited into the film later.) It was also so good to see David Bryan, given he wasn't available for the 2020 album promos and then a pandemic happened.
As for the show itself, I really enjoyed it. We cheered and clapped like we would've at a real concert, as did most of the people in attendance, even though we were aware it was a bit silly. But it was fun.
Definitely not the set list I would've picked though. I've seen the trailer pop up often enough to think that some casual fans might have checked the movie out and been very confused for large portions of it.
It did make sense to play songs from 2020 and I'm glad they did, but I didn't need to hear some of the other stuff... I may even have groaned when "We Weren't Born to Follow" started... but then a funny thing happened. I ended up really digging it. All of it. Including the stuff I would've preferred not to hear going in. Though I still maintain a solid greatest hits set plus some 2020 tracks would've been the best thing to do.
A totally random, cute moment happened when "This House Is Not For Sale" started, and two kids from the family sitting next to me suddenly got very excited. They were even singing along to some of the backing vocals. I mean, I like "This House Is Not For Sale" but who goes to a Bon Jovi show actually hoping for it? At least two people, apparently.
Jon was making a lot of pain faces but that's par for the course. It seemed to take him a while to warm up and get into the performance, but it's a very weird situation so I give him a pass for that.
I've been fortunate enough to go to some concerts in person over the past year -- nothing on the scale of an international touring act like Bon Jovi, but it's not like I've been starved of gigs. But I guess I realised last night how much I actually missed my Bon Jovi boys.
3.5 out of 5 for the movie and 5 out of 5 for the giddy buzz I got from it.
I know this is a pretty loose review, but hey, it's my blog. 😉
You can head to BonJoviEvent.com to find screenings near you.
Bon Jovi from Encore Nights trailer
Bon Jovi from Encore Nights set list
- Beautiful Drug
- Do What You Can
- You Give Love a Bad Name
- Born to Be My Baby
- We Weren't Born to Follow
- Roller Coaster
- Lost Highway
- Who Says You Can't Go Home
- Let It Rain
- It's My Life
- Story of Love
- I'll Be There For You
- This House Is Not For Sale
- Have a Nice Day
- Keep the Faith
- Bad Medicine
- Livin' on a Prayer
- Wanted Dead or Alive
Feel free to share your thoughts below. 😊