So you will have heard that Bon Jovi will return to New Zealand at the end of this year, playing two shows - Wellington's stadium, December 4, followed by Auckland, December 5.
I have a funny history with Bon Jovi.
You see I was young enough for the band's music to make some sort of impact. I have already told the story of when I was the "tape operator" at my primary school's production of Cinderella; during half-time three of the coolest girls in the school performed a dance routine to a song from Slippery When Wet; I was the behind-the-curtain-dunce that cocked up his first DJ gig.
I wrote about that last time Bon Jovi came to New Zealand - they played Christchurch in January 2008. I was really just trying to point out that a) my primary school had staged our version of that scene from Donnie Darko where the girls bust out Notorious by Duran Duran (yes, long before Sparkle Motion - but click here if you're still wondering what I am talking about) and b) I made a passing comment that women who never really grew up and got over their teen crushes - most of them bogans - were the only ones that would go to a Bon Jovi concert these days. You let me have it. Well, the female bogans with Bon Jovi tickets among you did, anyway.
And now Bon Jovi is coming back. And I got a wee co-writing credit for the announcement story. Yip, you see a couple of weeks ago I spent half an hour on the phone with Richie Sambora. Nice guy. A real motor mouth too - an interviewer's dream.
He was happy chatting about the size and scope of the show; about the fact that with over 120,000,000 in record sales the band was at its peak as a live act; about the fact that he really didn't care what critics thought of them. A Bon Jovi concert is, he told me, "for the fans". But he did chuckle when I asked him what the reaction had been like to the band's latest album, The Circle.
"It's been great - the fans love it".
But I needed to revisit that - you see, previously I had loved the segment where Bon Jovi cops it at the hands of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. (You can click here to see the whole segment.) Triumph zings the band. Sample line from his intro: "Tonight this New Jersey stadium will be filled with 80,000 people with 200 steady jobs." When he talks to Jon Bon Jovi he mentions that Jon is in the movie Vampires, then drops in "finally...a role that *requires* you to suck!"
Bon Jovi commissioned the piece. Sambora told me that "you have to laugh at yourself; if you can't then you are nothing".
I asked him if he had kept up with the reviews.
"Not really...but I'm sure they've all been positive. Although, Bon Jovi has never been a critics band. We don't make records for critics. We make them for people." That's fair enough of course. A band should make records for its fans - and should be happy if the fans are happy. Sambora sounded happy. I'm sure the bank hears him laughing regularly.
I asked if he considered critics to be human. "No...not really!" And he burst into laughter.
So, yeah, Sambora was good fun on the phone.
I wonder if I'll go see Bon Jovi. They really have made some awful music. But in the right time at the right place I still like bits of Slippery When Wet and most of New Jersey. I played in a band that covered Wanted Dead or Alive; it always went down a treat - even though I thought it was an absurd song to play.
The last song that had anything resembling a hook that I could appreciate was Keep the Faith; but by then the rot had set in at any rate. I'd rather listen to Bruce Springsteen's Human Touch than Bon Jovi's Keep the Faith.
Since then Bon Jovi's albums have been appalling.
I have had to review The Circle. I did that recently for The Dominion Post. I received a very angry emailed hate-letter from a fan who basically told me it was unfair to criticise them if millions of fans loved them.
I'd like to know if there are thousands of fans in New Zealand who love Bon Jovi; enough to fill two stadiums less than three years after their last visit here. Sambora seems to think so. And the promoter clearly thinks so.
Will you go and see Bon Jovi? Or did you see them last time? Can you recommend them as a live show? Or would you refuse to even be seen dead in white jeans?
What are your favourite Bon Jovi songs? Can they be forgiven for the album Have a Nice Day?
I am presuming the three girls from my primary school's answer to Sparkle Motion will be there. Probably rocking out with their teen daughters; half a dozen between them...
But then I remember, it wasn't that long ago that I wrote this about Bon Jovi. And that pretty much captures my feelings toward the band.
Richie Sambora was a good interviewee though. I'll have a feature article based on the interview for The Dominion Post coming soon. Meanwhile, will you be keen to get some tickets in early July for the December show? Will you wait and see, think about it, then maybe go with a gang for nostalgia? Or would you rather go and see anything else?
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