Bon Jovi At Metlife, Thursday, June 25th, 2013, Reviewed
When last seen on a stage, Jon Bon Jovi was dueting with another Jersey Boy, Bruce Springsteen, before parsing Bon Jovi’s catalog to a sublime 20 minutes of non stop smashes for his set at Madison Square Garden’s “12-12-12” . It was a miracle of time and place, a once in a lifetime performance that allowed Jon to move out out of Bruce’s shadow and bring down the house.
Yes, but whenever I’ve seen Jon perform a short set he has been pretty good, while over a two hour concert his flaws can’t be ignored. He is smug, he can’t dance, his songs are terrible, he has no idea how to interact with the audience and now, with Richie Sambora in rehab, the band falls further into the background and leader singer, songwriter, figurehead has completed his hostile takeover. The man who claimed to be the CFO, is now putting himself front and center on the “Because We Can” tour posters.
But Jon isn’t as good a frontman as he appears to believe himself to be. OK with an Arena, he gets dwarf at a stadium and couldn’t work Metlife Thursday night. If he had taken a peak at his opening act, J.Geils Band, he would have seen Peter Wolfe teach a lesson on how to play to someone elses audience. A smart mix of deep tracks, hits, and covers, Peter never stopped moving and dressed in level and looking like a rock and roll Scarecrow, he cajoled the audience for an overlong hour set and won on points. It was a bravado performance and makes you wonder what might have been if J. Geils could have maintained their “Love Stinks”, their penultimate number Thursday night.
Bon Jovi had a wonderful stage design, though they did little with it, built like an open chevy with banks of TVs and all showing Bon who, despite a red nose (Allergies?) that made him look like a clown, was still trim and handsome, knocked off a pretty good “That’s What Made The Water Made Me Do” and followed it with a very good “You Give Love A Bad Name” and that was it really. Stuck behind an acoustic guitar, he barely spoke to the audience, excusing himself with an “we have a lot we want to get to” and then careened through one hard rock wannabe after another.
Forget the Springsteen comparisons, there are none whatsoever. Springsteen knows how to work a crowd, Bon’s set had two enclosures (better to charge exorbitant prices for the closer one) with a huge runway that jutted far into the audience and that Bon didn’t come within a million miles of. What was he thinking? Why didn’t he move? Why didn’t he speaking, except the boiler plate stuff about how we have stood by the band and nonsense about how he isn’t as pretty as Bieber and can’t dance as well as Timberlake but they’ve been doing it longer than both combined. So what has that to do with anything? Stalin was in power longer than Roosevelt and Truman combined, does that make him a better leader? FYI: Jon is better than Beeb, not as good as Justin.
This was a terrible concert, Jon kept shouting “Are you still with me?” and no, folks, they weren’t with him much. Nobody was standing except for the hits, the noise level was pretty low and an attempt to get a singalong to “Because We Can” -a good song, by the way was simply embarrassing. At the encore “Wanted: Dead Or Alive”, Jon gave the first verse to the fans to much better effect.
58 nights into their tour, Jon is missing and I do mean missing Richie Sambora. He has no foil, he carries the night on his back and he just isn’t good enough.
Look: Bon Jovi have Slippery When Wet and a handful of other good hard rock songs. Jon can sing a “Bed Of Roses” and sell possibly their best song “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”. The Greatest Hits album does it all pretty well.
What they can’t do is rock a stadium good. Sambora is seriously missed, Jon can’t do it alone, he is an introvert in an extroverts mask, he is tongue tied and far far away. The catalog isn’t deep enough. Bon Jovi can’t U2 or Bruce or Stones. They aren’t good enough. We aren’t still with them.