This post has been a few days in the making. While I was in Brisbane, I was running around here, there, and everywhere for Christmas, or I was working at my old job (yes, I really did), or I was just catching up with friends I won’t see when I finally move to Canberra in February. So I wanted to devote some serious time to recount my experiences of one of the greatest rock bands still in existence today. Unfortunately, the latest trends in music means that fake music, music created by computers and auto-tune rather than any actual talent, claim the number one spots in all the top 10 lists. Which means that bands like Bon Jovi fall by the wayside. Which is a damn, damn shame.
I arrived right on time for all of the supports. In hindsight, I should have waited until it was closer to Bon Jovi time, seeing as I was by myself, but you miss out on half the vibe if you just show up for the main event. Plus, even if I didn’t know or particularly like the supports, they were still part of what I paid for. And I’m a uni student – I will bloody well get my money’s worth. The most impressive thing for me about the supporting acts had nothing to do with the artists. Directly in front of me were four women, around my mother’s age. They were pretty drunk, which to me always feels like a waste of a good ticket, but that’s not the point. The point was that these women were dancing along their row, head banging, moving their hips, and basically acting like bloody fools. I love them for that. To me, that’s what a gig is supposed to be about: dancing and getting stupid for the bands that you love. I caught myself watching the women and smiling to myself. They are who I want to be in twenty years time, the ones who don’t care what other people think. The ones that enjoy themselves no matter what. Every once in a while I’d look around and see the more uppity Bon Jovi fans giving these women judgemental looks. I felt like walking over to each one of them and say “these women are doing it right. What are you doing?”
When the man himself, John Bon Jovi, walked out on stage, I screamed. Everyone always goes on and on about how the frontman gets undue attention and the rest of the band gets ignored. It’s a terrible trend, but in Bon Jovi’s case, I think the attention is justified. JBJ captured the crowd’s attention from the moment he stepped out on stage in his American flag denim jacket and tight, tight jeans. He is a frontman. In every sense of the word.
It wasn’t for a few moments into the band’s first song that I realised I was holding my hands in front of my face as if I were praying. All I can say in defence of my weirdness is that Bon Jovi is rock royalty. I was paying my respects. Which is more than I can say for the people either side of me. I was stuck between two of the worst kinds of people at concerts. On my left was the teenaged son of a Bon Jovi fan who obviously didn’t appreciate how expensive tickets were and who obviously didn’t know just how lucky he was to be where he was. Suncorp Stadium had sold out. No one single seat in that whole stadium was empty. And this kid clearly couldn’t understand why. I don’t think I saw him sing for the entire night. Then, on my right, was the other kind of lame concert goer: the ones who are too “sophisticated” to dance. While I was swaying and punching the air and singing at the top of my lungs, this woman just stared at the stage, standing stock-still. In actual fact, she turned to me after one of the songs and asked if I had deodorant. Fair question, seeing as I had my book with me (I read during the intermissions so that I wouldn’t look like too much of a loner). But I have a feeling she was trying to tell me that I smelt. Well, dear bitchy woman, it is Brisbane in December in a crowd of thousands and I am excited. Of course I’m going to sweat. Should have told her to fuck off.
I suppose I should talk about the actual concert itself, but I feel like mere words couldn’t do it justice. Plus, I stuck with my new thing of not taking photos so I could experience the concert with my own eyes and not my camera’s. There was one moment I wished I had taken a photo, though. During ‘Dead or Alive’ JBJ called on everyone to pull out their “cellphones” and light up the stadium. Looking up into the stand from where I was, it looked as though there were stars shining out of the mundane concrete-and-plastic seats. It was magical. Stars above us, stars around us, a fine mist of rain falling on our heads, and the sounds of JBJ’s voice and the insane talents of the musicians of the band swirling around us in clouds of distortion and melody to the beat of 50, 000 fans singing along. Every single voice singing the same words.
I’ve seen a million faces. And I’ve rocked them all.
Because Bon Jovi is rock royalty, they could get away with playing their lesser known songs. I mean, it was obvious which ones weren’t their number one hits, but they still held the attention of their audience. Except for those bastards who started talking among themselves, like they weren’t missing history in the making. The Brisbane show was the 102nd show of their tour and the finale. Have you ever heard of a rock band ending their tour in Brisbane, Australia? No, I didn’t think so. And I sincerely doubt it will ever happen again.
As Bon Jovi played their less “popular” songs, I felt like a failure of a fan. I didn’t know them. Never heard them. I wanted to whip out my phone (in between songs of course) and download the entire discography. Don’t worry, I’ll be doing that very shortly. There’s actually an Bon Jovi album called This Left Feels Right that has all of the biggest hits played the way that the band originally intended to play them. I swear, you wouldn’t recognise the songs. And that includes ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’.
But trust me, when the big hits were played, I belted out the lyrics, threw my hands up, and started dancing. There’s nothing quite like knowing that thousands and thousands of other people are all singing the same words. Almost like a religious experience, although I’ve never felt truly religious so many I’m not the best person to make that call.
The very best moment was when the band covered ‘Start Me Up’. JBJ opened the song by saying that he has “swagger” and proceeded to do the Jagger dance, duck face, and just basically embody another member of the rock elite. They moved from that to “surfing” music, and then covered ‘TNT’, complete with Angus Young guitar-hopping, because us Aussies love our AC/DC. Well, I don’t, but that’s just cos I hate the guy’s voice. When Bon Jovi covered it, and covering guitarist Phil X sang it, I loved it.
The fact that the band could still play covers of other rock bands showed me that they don’t take themselves too seriously; that they could still appreciate the talents and contributions of other powerhouses in the industry. Humility at the top, that’s why I love Bon Jovi.
I have been rambling on and on for so long now, that I’ll wrap things up with this little tidbit: Bon Jovi was supposed to start playing at 7.30. Even if they didn’t go on stage until 8, they still played for a mammoth three-and-a-half hours. I didn’t get out of there until 11.30. That included multiple encores. Artists today just don’t have that stamina. They have a lot to learn from the 51-year-old explosive frontman and his brethren.
P.S. Do me a favour and go through the links below. You will see why Jon Bon Jovi is a beautiful man, inside and out. And the band is equally as incredible. These are the rock stars everyone should want to be.
- Bon Jovi reunites with bride (dailytelegraph.com.au)
- Jon Bon Jovi: Prince William has got ‘it’ (telegraph.co.uk)
- Bon Jovi Have The Biggest Tour Of 2013 (alexmossjournalism.wordpress.com)
- Review: Bon Jovi at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium (smh.com.au)
- Where to begin…healing, Bon Jovi, and a one kilometre run. (patriciaabowmer.wordpress.com)
- Bon Jovi rocks BrisVegas (couriermail.com.au)
- Bon Jovi offer Australian fans cut-price tickets (news.com.au)
- Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation (jonbonjovisoulfoundation.org)