It’s been raining for days here. Pissing down, in fact. It was raining when we left Cork for Dublin yesterday morning. It was rained on the way up. Somewhere around Kildare, we saw signs of sunlight. The girl sitting across from us, who was also going to the concert, said, “Maybe if all eighty thousand of us huff and puff at the sky, the clouds will go away.” Ted said, “You just have to believe.” He kept saying that the rest of the afternoon. I kept singing “Keep the faith,” to myself, every time he said that.
The evening was *stunningly* beautiful, and the band spent the first forty-five minutes of the show performing in the gold light of the sunset. It was gorgeous. It was warm. A breeze swung through every once in a while so it didn’t get stifling.
Apparently God is a Bon Jovi fan. :)
We had a fantastic time. The opening opening band, somebody local called Jaded Sun, was good enough and had at least one song I liked enough that I thought I’d maybe see if they had a CD out and pick it up if they did. The real opening band was Nickelback, about whom I know nothing, except when they came on stage I thought, “Oh, yeah, I think I’ve seen him on MTV,” where “him” is the lead singer.
(He reminded me of the HHGttG’s Zaphod Beeblebrox, which is not a compliment. However, I did find myself thinking, “He’s pretty cute.” Except I’m not actually at all sure he is. What he is is a *rock star*, which is startlingly easy to confuse with being attractive.) They were pretty good on stage, sounding a great deal like my limited exposure to them on the radio. I said to Ted, “Is this what they sound like?” and he nodnodnodded. Also, about two songs into their set, when the lead singer had roused forty or fifty thousand people to screaming with a wave of his hand, I turned to Ted and said, “It’s good to be a rock star,” which made him laugh a lot. :)
I am almost positive that when Jon Bon Jovi came out on stage, my first thought upon seeing him was *not* supposed to be, “Wow, I wonder how much he pays to keep his teeth that white.”
I mean, really. Obviously they were caps, because my goodness what straight white teeth he has, but I’ve never actually been in the presence of someone who had a blinding smile before, not that literally. Adult human teeth are just not supposed to be that color. I see teeth like that all the time in movies, but I’d never actually *seen* that effect before, and…boy. It’s so unreal as to be distracting. I don’t even have a thing about teeth, and … jeez. o.O
Sneaky bastard came out on stage left, on a bridge they’d put up (it was really a hell of an entrance, I’ve gotta say, what with the blinding smile and the sunset gold coloring his hair and the pale stadium seating background to make his costume (a black military-style, fitted, hip-length coat with red highlights, black jazz pants, a black t-shirt) *really* stand out) and came around to do the opening number on a catwalk that cut the ‘golden circle’ (where we were) off from the rest of the pitch standing area.
Unfortunately, the opening number was “Last Man Standing”. This is unfortunate for two reasons: one, it’s possibly my favorite song off the new album, and they hadn’t turned on the big screen yet, so I didn’t really get to *see* him perform it, because mostly his back was to those of us in the golden circle.
The other reason it’s unfortunate is that it’s about a real rock and roll star (“There’s no dancers, there’s no diamonds, no this boy, he don’t lip-sync”), and I thought it badly played up the fact that Bon Jovi is a better band in the studio than they are live. I knew this before, so I wasn’t distressed by it, but it’s a little jarring to have the opening piece be about somebody who’s better than the performers doing the song. It’s a good opening number in other regards (“Take your seats now, folks. It’s showtime / Hey, Patrick – hit the lights / There’s something in the air / There’s magic in the night / Now here’s the band, they really play” — good stuff for introducing a concert, really), but mmph. Not the way I would’ve gone, if I’d been putting the show together.
It is entirely possible I was the only one out of eighty thousand people who thought anything like that.
Speaking of eighty thousand people…Croke Park seats, on game day, about 82K, apparently. While the crew were setting up for Bon Jovi, after Nickelback had left the stage, I turned around and took a good hard look at the house. It was two-thirds or three-quarters full: a pretty good turnout, I thought. Sixty thousand people’s nothing to sneeze at.
Partway through the third song, Ted said to me, “Look at the stands,” and I turned for another look-see.
They were playing to a full house.
Oh, there were a few thousand seats empty–but game day doesn’t allow for pitch standing. I’d say there were five hundred people in the golden circle, and I’d guess there were probably three to five thousand on the pitch. Several *thousand* people trickled in between a quarter to eight and ten after–and I would like to say, “Holy shit, Batman, they started the show on time,” too. “On time” here is a little shaky, because the schedule I’d seen Friday had changed from what it’d last been, but Jaded Sun came on at 6, played for 20-25 minutes, Nickelback came on right around 7 and played for closer to 45 minutes, and Bon Jovi were on within a couple minutes of eight o’god-damned-clock. I’m impressed. My experience with concerts is not that they run on time. Go, Irish. :)
Twice during the evening Jon had us sing an opening verse more or less unaccompanied. Once was “Wanted: Dead or Alive”, and I think the other was “Livin’ on a Prayer”. Eighty. Thousand. People. Shout-singing your lyrics back at you. I can barely imagine the rush. He does this–well, it’s a rock star pose, but I think it looks like a crucifixion pose, which is in its own way appropriate, and rides on the power. When we did “Dead or Alive” at the end of the verse he dropped his chin to his chest and said, “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
It’s good to be a rock star. :)
Anyway, on the religious aspect of it, it was pretty funny heading down toward the venue. There were literally thousands of people convening, coming from every street direction and turning the corner together as they walked to the gates. It felt quite absurdly like a pilgrimage. Dad, when we went to the Bon Jovi concert in Anchorage, commented that he hadn’t known what to expect, really, but that the whole thing was really rather like a rapture, and I think there’s a fair amount of truth to that. Perhaps someday when I’ve gone to more concerts I’ll have something more intelligent to say on that. :)
There were a *lot* of people in their 30s and 40s there, enough to make the couple teenagers who were right around us stand out. I thought that was kinda funny. :) We had a good time watching the crew get set up, and watching three of the spotlight operators be hoisted up into the rafters of the stage (not for all the tea in China, man) and generally yammering and bitching about aching feet and all that sort of thing while we waited for the music to start.
I honestly thought I was going to be able to remember the set list in something close to the order they played in, because I’m usually pretty good at that kind of thing. I did not, however, expect them to play for TWO HOURS AND FORTY FIVE MINUTES. They did a *six song* encore (beginning with “Dry County”, after which Jon said, “Now, if there’s anybody left sitting in Croke Park, would you please rise…for the singing of our national anthem.”
It is not possible to properly make musical sounds in text, so saying the next thing we heard was “nee-naa-nee-naa-nee-naa-nowrrr” is utterly useless. Suffice it to say Bon Jovi’s national anthem does not start out with “Oh say can you see,” but rather, “It’s all the same, only the names will change…”)
They only did five songs from Have A Nice Day, in fact; I was expecting more. “Last Man Standing”, “Have A Nice Day”, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”, “Novocaine” (which he did a funny intro for: “This is my he-man woman-hater song,” which eventually concluded (during a break mid-song to talk about the Munster match win that afternoon) that God was *unquestionably* a woman), and “Story of My Life,” which I would’ve traded out for “Welcome to Wherever You Are,” because I think it’s a much better song. For some reason, they didn’t ask me. :)
They did “Captain Crash” early on (like third), to my amusement (I wouldn’t have expected it to be anything like a hit, though apparently it was), as well as my other two favorites from Crush, “Just Older” and “It’s My Life”. Jon sang the, “It’s good to see your face, you ain’t no worse for wear breathing that California air,” lines to Richie, who is getting a divorce from Heather Locklear and who pulled his face long and shooook his head, like, “Hey, man, no California air for *me*!” They led into “It’s My Life” with a, “You know what Frankie would say…” line, and after the concert one of the canned pieces that got played was “My Way”, which I thought was funny. *grin*
I think they did the entire Slippery When Wet album. (No, that’s not true. They didn’t do the power ballads. It was not a power ballad sort of night. They did almost nothing ballady, although Richie took over the mike to do “I’ll Be There For You” mid-show. Still, even that’s got a rock tempo.) That particular piece had David Bryan, the drummer, really featured doing backup vocals, and I got the idea from those bits that he may actually have the best out-of-studio voice of the band members. He’s really cute, in a Peregrin Took way, but Jon’s still the prettiest, so best vocals or no, Jon’s the front man.
I think they did *nothing* from Bounce, which is okay with me because I think it’s their worst album. (When I bought it, I listened to it once, thought, “Christ, that’s depressing,” and didn’t listen to it again until I had the power of a playlist which would break it up and mix it in with the rest of their music. It’s still depressing, but when it’s not all at once at least I can admire some of the music.)
What else? In 3 hours you can do a lot of music! They did “Keep the Faith”, which made me happy given that I’d been singing it all day, and “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”, and (switching albums) “Born to be my Baby”, which was totally unfair. *laugh* It’s not fair to have a rock star parading around the stage making eye contact with specific girls and waggling his hips at them and not managing to meet EVERYONE’s eye! Good god. *laugh* Too-white teeth or no, he is teh pretty.
*giggle* There was a bit, too, during the encore, where he said, “Now I’m gonna show you the dance moves that made me sooooo famous,” and turned around and rolled his R’s, as my family as taken to saying, and waggled his way around the stage showing off his very fine hiney, then came back and said, “Okay, maybe not,” and went into the song. I forget what song, though. :)
They did “Bad Medicine” and “Blood on Blood”, the latter of which I hadn’t heard in so long I barely remembered the lyrics. I wonder if it got dropped from my playlist somehow, or if I don’t have the New Jersey album…
There *were* a few songs I didn’t know, most of which are apparently on 100,000,000 Bon Jovi Fans Can’t Be Wrong, which I don’t own. Looking at the album, they were, let’s see. “The Radio Saved My Life Tonight” and … something else Jon *said* was on that album and that he thought they’d only ever actually played like once, but I can’t remember what it was. They did “Mr. Saturday Night”, which I only knew ’cause of the One Wild Night live album, but which I like so I was glad to hear, and, um. That’s just about everything. :)
There was an entertaining bit during the encore, because they’d done what appeared to be everything they were going to do, and were all standing around there on stage looking at each other, and Jon said, “Well, crap, I don’t feel like going home yet, do you?” The audience shrieked their fool heads off, and the guys stood around unmiked talking about what they were gonna do, and Richie headed for his guitar and Jon said, “How about that thing that goes bee-dee-bee-deebee?” and Richie looked back like, “Huh? What?” Jon said, “You know, in the key of B?” (or smething to that effect), and Richie continued to look confused, and Jon’s like, “We’ve PLAYED IT A FEW TIMES, BEE-DEE-BEE-DEEBEE!” and making guitar actions with his fingers, and Richie finally figured it out and did get his guitar while Jon turned back to the audience and looped a finger at his head and made, “Can you believe that guy?” faces as he pointed back at Richie. :)
I cannot for the life of me remember what song they played. *laugh* It was “Bad Medicine” or “Living on a Prayer”, one of those hyper-huge hits they had, but I really, truly can’t remember which one. *laugh* I guess that’s okay, since Richie couldn’t figure it out either. :)
The Irish sang to get the encore. *boggle* I don’t know what they were singing–mostly vowel sounds, and I don’t know if it had any meaning in Irish or if it really was just mostly vowel sounds, but I’d never heard anything like it. I thought that was pretty cool!
There’s no comparing the production itself to the one I saw in 1989. The repetoire of music to draw from is much much larger and they consequently did far, far more music for us than they did then. The sound–now, granted, the sound in the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage sucks diseased moose wang, but even so, the sound was the best I’ve ever heard in a rock venue. It was very, *very* loud; deafening by its very nature–there were a few times between songs when I couldn’t tell if the crowd behind me was roaring or if it was my ears filling in for the bewildering silence–but it was not painful. It was wired appropriately for the space. That’s mind-boggling to me.
And there was nothing like the electronics show they put on available in ’89. They had a giant screen behind the band and cameras all over the place and some very talented people switching from one camera to another and playing with them. There’s a chorus of, “It’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right,” in “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” and there were 5 people who’d brought signs that said, “It’s all right!” The two in front would lift their signs for the first, “It’s all right,” the 3 in back would switch for the 2nd, then back to the first, and the camera guy noticed, so by the end of the song they were all five lifting their signs and the camera was switching back and forth between them and Jon for each “it’s all right”. So, yeah: nicely done stuff like that, which you just wouldn’t have seen 17 years ago.
Me, I’d give Jon a choreographer. Not because he needs to dance, but because 3 hours of watching him do crucifixion poses, or turn upstage to face Tico (the drummer) to count out the last beats of the music for 70% of the songs, or his particular duck-lipped focus over a guitar gets a little repetitive, and I think it should be broken up and changed around some.
Again, it is very possible I’m the only person in the stadium who was noticing things like that.
I’d put Richie on a wireless electric and let (or make) him move around more: there were times when they brought what I think were probably fan club members up to be on the wings of the stage, and OMG did they want him to come over. He didn’t. I don’t think it was necessarily the cord that constrained him, but one of the problems the band had back in the early nineties was that Jon was teh pretty, and got all the attention. They obviously worked through that–and there was a lot more sharing the spotlight in this concert than what I remember from back then–but if you take the wire away you could have Richie play both sides of the stadium, which would go over very well. I don’t think it’s *possible* for the lead guitarist to eclipse the lead singer in a band like Bon Jovi, but they could get a lot more mileage out of Richie’s popularity without coming anywhere near threatening Jon’s position as the center of attention. (Nickelback grasped this, and had wireless guitars, and played to the whole audience more effectively than I thought Bon Jovi did.) OTOH, Jon did notice when the stadium seating did the Wave during one of the songs, and I wish I’d turned around in time to see if it went all the way around, so I guess he wasn’t doing too badly. :)
Ok, I’m sure I’ve got more to say, especially about obnoxiously grabby fangirls, because I usually do, but at just under 3K I feel as if I’ve perhaps done enough write-up for the day. This will do, with one more post-script:
I did not bring a camera, having been told they weren’t allowed, and I don’t know how to get pictures off my cell phone, so I didn’t bother taking any with it. Perhaps next time I go to a concert I’ll bring a camera, because there were thousands and thousands of them there, but it’s possible I’d be so distracted by trying to get good pictures and wouldn’t enjoy the actual concert as much. Anyway, I don’t have a post-appropriate icon, ’cause I didn’t bring a camera. Ah well. :)