As those of you who follow this blog know, I am very honest about my impressions of things. Therefore, if you are one of those fans that never wants to hear a negative word about Bon Jovi ever, you may want to skip this post.
Greetings fellow Jovinuts! I have been struggling a bit with how to sum up my thoughts about the Summerfest show. Perhaps its good that I waited a couple of days because I think my first go-around when drafting this was pretty brutal. But, with time and a bit of reflection, hopefully I can be a bit more neutral in my perspective.
First off, regardless of how this review comes out, I'm very very glad I went. As always at a Jovi show, I met some incredibly wonderful ladies and had a fabulous time with them. Between hanging out at the pool, discovering the joys of vodka-marinated gummy bears and just laughing and sharing stories, there is really nothing like the Bon Jovi sisterhood.
Anyway, about the show ...
I have been to a lot of Bon Jovi shows (I mean A HELLUVA LOT of Bon Jovi shows! LOL) and this was by far the worst I've experienced. I actually didn't have a good time. I never in my life thought that would be possible at a Bon Jovi show, but it happened. And lordy, I hope it never happens again!
You could tell from the minute the band took the stage that something was seriously wrong with the sound. I didn't think much of it because knowing the quality of the Bon Jovi crew, I figured they would have it fixed in no time. I always feel for those guys ... they don't know what kind of system they're going to find when they arrive, but somehow, must always make it work. Sort of like a pianist who, unless you are at the superstar level, show up and have to play whatever is rolled out in front of you. I don't envy them at all!
Anyway, I loved that they opened with "Glad All Over" because it reminded me of the second Philly concert on the last tour. (I didn't quite agree with the Backstage twitter that it was as rare as they had implied ... now, if it had been "I Believe" or "One Wild Night", now THAT would have been a shocker.)
The setlist was as you would expect for a non-touring summer show ... there were a couple of "newer" songs like Lost Highway, Whole Lot of Leaving (WOO HOO!!!) and Last Man Standing, which was a bit rough and seemed to wander a bit. I'm not one for "it needs to sound exactly like the record", but watching the interaction between the guys (especially the rhythm section) you could tell it was more than just typical live performance changes.
But for the most part, they stuck to the party songs (I Love This Town, We Got It Going On) and the anthems (Raise Your Hands, Bad Medicine, etc. etc. etc.) I was disappointed they didn't throw something fun into the middle of Sleep When I'm Dead, since that's the stuff I usually love. And during Bad Medicine, things just seemed to go around in circles ... I thought we'd maybe not get Shout, but then it turned around and there it was.
To me, the whole show just seemed very unsettled. Again, I don't expect the record when I go to a show and when Jon misses or changes words, usually its no big deal at all. But, this time there were just way too many botched lyrics.
Of course, the craziest moment of the evening was Jon not being able to pick up the key for Summertime. I stood there in disbelief as it went down ... I've never seen Jon take like 12 or 16 bars to get something. I remember a few shaky starts to Undivided once or twice, but in my opinion this qualified as a train wreck.
As a performer, I've experienced the live train wreck - it's the most gut-wrenching feeling. I remember once doing "The Planets" (an orchestra piece by Holst) for a live radio broadcast. The conductor cued the entire brass and percussion section in 4 bars early and chaos ensued. There was no way to get the separate parts of the machine running in sync again. Eventually, we had to stop and restart. I tell you this so you know that I truly understand what its like.
In any case, here is a video of it posted on YouTube. Though its a bit blurry, you get the idea.
Once that happened, there seemed to be a change in Jon. Before Summertime, he was just frustrated by the sound problems, but after that he seemed to go the other way and overcompensate with dancing and shaking his tush. He usually has a way of drawing an audience in but in this case, you felt like an outsider if you weren't one of the girls in the front.
Once the show ended, I was happy to just go back to the hotel and decompress. I thought - damn, wouldn't it be interesting to be a fly on the wall in that dressing room when Jon finally gets his mad out (of course, unless he is holding something in his hand!)
I did end up seeing Obie in the airport the next morning, but held off on saying anything. It was still too fresh and I was afraid what I thought wouldn't come out right. Even now, it probably still doesn't. But, nonetheless, there it is. Those are my thoughts.
Now, as they would say on West Wing ... "what's next?" ... well, according to Jon, that would be going to London to mix the record they just finished recording ... and we all know what that means!!!! TOUR!!!