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Bon Jovi – ANZ Stadium, December 14, 2013

The rain stayed away. When I left the “Gong” with my wife and two boys, the rain was coming down hard. Driving for 30 minutes, the sun came out. After driving for two hours to get to the venue, the sun was still out and it was very humid. This is my boys second concert. The first one being the Kiss and Motley Crue “Monster” tour of Australia in April this year.

Before we left for the trip, I went onto Setlist.fm and made up a playlist for our trip up to the venue. I assumed that since Melbourne and Sydney are treated more or less the same in relation to how overseas acts see the two cities, that the set lists would be very similar. And they were. Basically we listened to the set as we where driving up.

So we get to Homebush and apart from the normal rips’ like $25 parking, $50 a top (which meant I handed over $150 to merchandise) and $15 for a chips, drink and sausage roll deal, the first thing I noticed was the stage design. Seeing the stage design in pictures or on fan filmed YouTube footage doesn’t do it justice. It is a great concept and a great idea.

It is fitting that they opened up with the best song from the “What About Now” album. “That’s What the Water Made Me” is the only tune they should be pushing from that new album. It took the mixer crew about 3 seconds to realise that they needed to press a button so that the rest of the stadium hears the sound. So you can say that the start didn’t have the WOW factor.

That’s what the water made me That’s who I am and what I’ll be

We can’t change how we are made, how we have grown up and what we believe in. Of course we can adapt to situations and sometimes we can fake a different personality but in the end, we all fall back to how we were made and what we are.

This world, it’s cracked and crazy
Say one of your pretty prayers for me
No roles in the garden? Or Wishing well?

Life is no Garden of Eden. It never was and it never will be. We have copyright granted monopolies fighting hard to control the internet. We have people working 12 hour days just to see all of their money go to the mortgage, to the utility companies and just to basic survival goods. At night, we might feel better saying a pretty prayer, but that is all it is. The World is cracked and Crazy.

So after opening up with a new one, they went back to 1986 with two classics “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Raise Your Hands” from the “Slippery When Wet” album.

Both songs are designed for the live show and they work a treat. While “You Give Love A Band Name” gets people singing, “Raise Your Hands” gets people moving, with 50,000 plus hands raised as one each time the Chorus hit.

Then we had “Lost Highway” and “Whole Lot of Leavin'” from 2007’s “Lost Highway” album. While “Lost Highway” has become a live staple of the Bon Jovi show, I cant say that “Whole Lot of Leavin'” deserves the same treatment. I am sure a better song could have been inserted, like “Runaway” or “In And Out Of Love” or my personal favourite “This Is Love, This Is Life.”

The next song was a cover of the Bob Seger classic “Old Time Rock & Roll” with Kid Rock assisting, along with his backing singers and sax player. Watching the performance on the big screen, the camera dude really focused on the bouncy chest of Jessie Wagner, who was one of Kid Rock’s back up singers.

“It’s My Life” from the “Crush” album was next and apart from the missing 10 second talk box and some other sound problems, the song was another sing along anthem for the crowd.

“Because We Can” and “What About Now” came next. I really don’t like “Because We Can” and when Jon tried to get the crowd to sing it back to him towards the end, he was more or less greeted with silence. It just didn’t connect. “What About Now” however is a good song, however when it is put up against the other Bon Jovi songs, it doesn’t look that good anymore.

“We Got It Goin’ On” is a real damn good song from the “Lost Highway” album with a real sleazy groove happening. It is a great song for the live show.

Is there anybody out there looking for a party? Yeah!!

Any song that starts off with that opening lyric, is designed purely for the concert. It is the call and response. A great pick me up after the lackluster double whammy from the new album.

“Keep the Faith” didn’t hit the mark. Jon really struggled with the Gm key of the song. However, the outro jam session between the band sure made up for the vocal shortcomings.

The next four songs, was the toilet break and drink break period of the concert. As much as Jon is trying to rewrite the Leonard Cohen classic, “Hallelujah” with “Amen” it just doesn’t hit the mark. I made a mention to my wife the amount of people walking toward the exit doors to stock up on booze when the song started.

So “Amen” was followed by “Someday I’ll Be A Saturday Night” in an acoustic format which was followed by “Diamond Ring” and the very underrated “(You Want to) Make a Memory”. From the catalogue of songs that Bon Jovi has, the 4 song acoustic part of the show was a let down.

However, they finished the set strong. “Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars”, “Born to Be My Baby”, “We Weren’t Born to Follow” all followed.

“Who Says You Can’t Go Home” came next, followed by “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” that had a great medley of “Great Balls of Fire”, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, “Wipe Out” and “You Shook Me All Night Long” which showcased the vocal chops of fill in guitarist, “Phil X”.

Since AC/DC are Aussie legends, you can’t go wrong when you cover AccaDacca. Even Billy Joel covered AC/DC for his Stone Festival performance, playing “Long Way To The Top”.

“Bad Medicine” finished off the set (also with a small detour that included “Oh, Pretty Woman”.

I saw that for the second Melbourne show, Bon Jovi played “Dry County” which is my favourite Bon Jovi track by far and I was hoping that would be the case in Sydney.

So when the opening chords for “In These Arms” kicked off the encore, I guessed it wasn’t to be. “Wanted Dead or Alive” followed, this time without the usual Richie Sambora acoustic theatrics to kick it off. Finally the night ended with “Have a Nice Day” and of course “Livin’ on a Prayer”. We (along with the other 50,000 plus crowd) sung the last two songs that hard and for long parts of those songs the crowd drowned out Jon’s actual vocals.

So did the audience miss Richie Sambora? As much as it pains me to say it, NO, he wasn’t missed. Apart from about 5 poorly selected song choices, it was a solid set, with the actual songs as the STARS. No one cared who wrote the songs.

Will Bon Jovi do the same numbers again if they return with the current incarnation of the band? My view is NO. Watching some of the facials and the way Jon was carrying himself, it is like he knew this could be the last time Bon Jovi graces Australia.

Was it an enjoyable night? It was. The looks on my kids faces was worth it. I still would have loved to see some of the earlier stuff, as well as the “This Is Love, This Is Life.”

Thanks for the 30 years, let’s hope that the Richie Sambora issues get all sorted for a return performance, (hopefully it will be easier on the pocket).

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Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

Bon Jovi – The “Because We Can” Tour will be renamed to “Because I Can”

The “Because We Can” tour needs to be remained to “Because I Can”. Based on the drop off rate of musicians, it looks like Jon Bon Jovi will be the last man standing.

It began with controversy and the absence of lead guitarist Richie Sambora. In my opnion, Richie Sambora is the reason why a lot of the metal and rock community enjoy Bon Jovi’s music. He gave the band some street cred, while Jon Bon Jovi went and played all his little games like “I want to be an actor” or “I want to be a football franchise owner” or “I want to be a politician”.

Isn’t it a huge coincidence that when Richie Sambora pulled out on the eve of the show, Jon Bon Jovi had a replacement for Sambora on the same day. By connecting the dots, Jon Bon Jovi knew this was coming. In the weeks after the departure, Jon stated that the show must go on and that he is not beholden to anyone. Of course, the angle that Jon put out there was that he cares about the people that work on the show and how those same people need to know that they are being taken care off by their employer and that they can put food on the table and make house payments.

Let’s look at the departure of Richie Sambora a bit more. On September 18, 2012, Richie Sambora released his third solo album, “Aftermath Of The Lowdown.”

At that time of the albums release, Richie Sambora stated that “What About Now” album was recorded before his solo album “Aftermath of the Lowdown” was completed. From reading interviews between September 2012 and February 2013, one would get the impression that Richie Sambora is a bit upset that he had to go out and promote another Bon Jovi album, while he also had a new album out. In other words, Richie felt that Jon Bon Jovi was killing off his solo record.

In order to appease Richie Sambora, it was decided that the new Bon Jovi album, “What About Now” will include a track from “Aftermath Of The Lowdown” as a bonus track on the deluxe edition. It looks like it wasn’t enough.

Fans then started to vent their frustration at the lack of information from all involved. The Bon Jovi shows kept on selling out in new markets, and shows in the common markets of Europe and North America kept on selling well with the hope that by the time the “Because We Can” tour rolled into town, Richie Sambora would be in tow. This didn’t happen and it took everyone by surprise, including Richie Sambora, who believed that he would have returned to the band by September the latest. The issue about money was banded about on various websites and with Jon Bon Jovi trying to get rid of his New York penthouse for $40 million since April 2013, the money angle theoretically holds true.

Then on September 10, 2013 Tico Torres undergoes emergency appendectomy surgery and the band POSTPONES their Mexico concert. Based on Jon’s assertion when Richie departed, the show must go on and that he is not beholden to anyone. However in this case Jon Bon Jovi was caught by surprise. To be fair, Jon Bon Jovi would have seen the departure of Richie Sambora rising on the wind, so he did have a back-up plan for that, however when Tico fell ill, there was no back-up plan and he had to cancel. However, this would have gotten Jon thinking about having a back-up plan for Tico Torres and Dave Bryan, just in case they all pull out.

So when Tico fell ill again, New Jersey native and Kings Of Suburbia drummer Rich Scannella was called to fill in until Tico is cleared to play.

Again the show goes on. With super large merchandise deals signed, Jon Bon Jovi cannot stop the tour. He might not be beholden to his band mates however he is beholden to the contracts. Merchandise deals become very expensive to the artist if they are broken or if the sales do not meet targets or if the promised shows are not delivered.

I have tickets to see Jon Bon Jovi live in Sydney. I cannot call the band Bon Jovi anymore, as it is not a band. The tour wraps up after the Australia shows. It will be interesting to see what Jon Bon Jovi plans to do next. In my view, he will still try to get every penny out of the Bon Jovi name, regardless of who his backing band is.

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

1986 vs 2013

BON JOVI

In 1986, Jon Bon Jovi was all about the music. He was in debt to his record label and still living with his parents. The “band” Bon Jovi released their biggest seller, Slippery When Wet.

Now, Jon Bon Jovi is all about the money. The band Bon Jovi released their biggest dud, in What About Now, Richie Sambora has been booted because of money and Jon Bon Jovi cancelled a New York Fair concert for an intimate Government concert that paid more.

 

BLACK SABBATH/OZZY OSBOURNE

In 1986, Black Sabbath released Seventh Star with Glenn Hughes on vocals and Ozzy Osbourne released The Ultimate Sin.

Seventh Star was originally intended to be the first solo album by Iommi, but due to pressures by Warner Bros. Records and the prompting of band manager Don Arden, the record was billed as Black Sabbath featuring Tony Iommi.

The Ultimate Sin featured songwriting contributions from Bob Daisley and Phil Soussan, however due to Sharon Osbourne (Arden) trying to keep as much money as possible in Ozzy’s corner, Bob Daisley was not credited on the initial release and Phil Soussan had an accounting disagreement with Sharon. Everyone got shafted by an Arden.

In 2013, Black Sabbath released 13, their first album with Ozzy since 1978, that also featured the talents of Rage Against The Machine drummer Brad Wilk. Bill Ward said he would not participate until he was offered a “signable contract.” One B.W is out and another B.W is in. Again, someone was shafted by an Arden.

RECORD LABELS

The major labels wanted their artists to have careers. They spent a lot of money to convince the public that they should pay attention to their new artist or the latest release of an existing artist.

The marketing was from the label down to the streets. The labels had so much power and they set the bar. Either a band was signed to a label or they didn’t matter. Major labels were plentiful and the most powerful person in the music business was the Record Label head. Artists could live off the money from their record deal as people had to buy the expensive record to listen to it. Because it was expensive, we played it over and over and over again and eventually became a fan.

Now the marketing is from the streets and the record labels want the hit singles. They have shareholders to please, a board to please and all the label heads are interested in bonuses and short term profits. There is no long term vision anymore as the Record Labels do not have the same power.

The major labels have been reduced to 3, with Sony, Universal and Warner Bros.

In 1986, record companies were cool. In 2013, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Facebook, Apple, Samsung, Twitter and Amazon are cool. 

 

LIVE

In 1986, all the acts did the arena and stadium tours because demand was high. If a band opened for a major act, they believed they had made it. The public discovered new acts when those acts opened up for our favourite bands. Look at the list below;

Metallica and Ratt opened up for Ozzy Osbourne.

Anthrax opened up for Metallica.

Marillion opened up for Rush.

 

Loverboy opened up for Van Halen.

King Kobra, White Lion and W.A.S.P opened up for Kiss.

 

W.A.S.P also opened up for Iron Maiden.

Cinderella opened up for Bon Jovi in the U.S and Queensryche opened up for Bon Jovi in Europe.

 

Queensryche also opened up for AC/DC.

Cinderella also opened up for David Lee Roth.

Honeymoon Suite and Glass Tiger opened up for Journey.

Dokken opened up for Accept.

Keel opened up for Dio.

Krokus opened up for Judas Priest.

Now only the classic rock acts of the Seventies and Eighties can sell out the arenas and the few modern superstars. The majority of acts play the club circuit. If bands have a small hard core fan base, they can raise enough money to make an album and own everything about themselves. No one cares who the opening band is.

RANDY JACKSON

In 1986, he played bass with Journey. He appeared on the Raised on Radio album and also toured with them. People judged him on his abilities.

In 2013, he is a judge on American Idol.

CHARTS

Back in 1986, the charts meant everything and albums sold in double digit millions. Slippery When Wet from Bon Jovi went to Number 1 for 1 week in October and then it re-appeared at number 1 for 7 weeks in 1987.

Now the charts are useless and artists are lucky to sell a million units. There are a few, like Adele that go into double digits. Bon Jovi’s What About Now went to Number 1 for 1 week and it didn’t reappear again.

ANTHEMS OF A GENERATION

In 1986, we had Addicted To Love from Robert Palmer, Sledgehammer from Peter Gabriel, Dreams from Van Halen, Livin On A Prayer and Wanted Dead Or Alive from Bon Jovi, Peace Sells from Megadeth, Battery from Metallica, Raining Blood from Slayer and The Final Countdown from Europe.

In 2013, nothing lasts.

THE MUSIC BUSINESS 

In 1986, it was all about the music and if a band was all over traditional media, it meant they had traction and that people would be hearing their music.

Now, our favourite bands are playing to the masses who just don’t care and now it is all about marketing. Look at the marketing campaign for the new Dream Theater album. It looks like the label is trying to monetize every little bit of it. If a band is all over traditional media, it doesn’t mean that they have traction and it doesn’t mean that people have heard their music.

In 1986, everything was expensive and the cost of music was different at every store. Due to the high prices of music, everybody had a little bit of it. We had to buy it to hear it, or we used to tape it of someone who purchased it.

Now, music costs the same everywhere, and it’s cheap and everybody has more than they want. Music is available to hear for free, whether on YouTube or streaming music services like Spotify.

In 1986, albums from our favourite artists would normally come out every two years. Due to this lack of new material, music was scarce, so when we purchased albums we played them to death. We became fans by over playing the music we purchased as it was all about the music.

Now, music is released constantly and it is plentiful. Due to these riches of new material, we don’t spend as much time with the albums we purchased. We become fans by looking for the song that grabs our attention on the first listen.

LADY GAGA

In 1986, Lady Gaga was born. In 2013, Lady Gaga is just Born This Way.

METALLICA

In 1986, Metallica released Master of Puppets and lost bass player Cliff Burton in a bus accident while on tour.

In 2013, Metallica will be released Through The Never a live/concert film and will be losing a lot of money when it doesn’t set the world on fire.

MEGADETH

In 1986, Megadeth released Peace Sells.. But Who’s Buying, which in their case, everyone was buying.

In 2013, Megadeth released Supercollider and no one was buying.

KISS

In 1986, Gene Simmons from Kiss produced and co-wrote songs for the Black N Blue album, Nasty Nasty, that had a certain Tommy Thayer on guitars.

In 2013, Kiss released Monster, that has Tommy Thayer on guitars, as well as lead vocals on one song and a major co-writer of material.

STRYPER

In 1986, Stryper released To Hell With The Devil.

In 2013, Styper will release No More Hell To Pay. It looks they still have hell on their minds.

SLAYER

In 1986, Slayer reigned in blood.

In 2013, Jeff Hanneman’s reign ended. RIP.

QUEENSRYCHE

In 1986, Queensryche was one band that released the a superior album in Rage For Order.

In 2013, Queensryche are two seperate bands that ended up releasing two inferior albums in Frequency Unknown(Geoff Tate version) and Queensryche (Todd LaTorre version).

The fans are screaming for order.

CINDERELLA 

In 1986, Cinderella released Night Songs and proved to the world that they are nobody’s fool.

In 2013, Tom Keifer the singer from Cinderella released The Way Life Goes, an album 9 years in the making with a song called Fools Paradise.

VINNIE VINCENT

In 1986, Vinnie Vincent invaded the charts, with a point to prove.

In 2013, Vinnie Vincent is …..

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A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories, Stupidity, Treating Fans Like Shit

A Small Amount of Too Much with Dream Theater, Bon Jovi and Metallica

“A small amount of too much spoils the whole thing.”

Ever had a feeling when you are at a gig, hearing the songs you like, enjoying the moment and then you just don’t want to hear anymore, you are looking at your watch, thinking that you should leave to go home. That is the quirky relationship between the rock n roll show and its fans. Depending on the band, sometimes 90 minutes is enough and 2 hours is too much.

I watched Dream Theater in Australia on the Systematic Chaos tour and they played for three hours (with an intermission of about 10 minutes in between). For some reason that was just perfect, however when I saw them again on the Black Clouds and Silver Linings Tour, they played just over 2 hours and it was too much. Put that down to the two things, hitting the same market too quickly and the flow of the set list.

The 2009 show took place almost 12 months since the 2008 show. Remember the quote, a small amount of too much spoils the whole thing. I remember them doing Solitary Shell with extended solos. It is not the strongest song in the Dream Theater catalogue, so what happens when you take a song that isn’t your best and make it longer? You get a yawn fest, a toilet break or a beer/smoke break.

Jon Bon Jovi has a big X on his name for treating Bon Jovi fans to a Kings of Suburbia beach party. A 2 hour show, where 1 hour was spent playing cover songs. Nice one. It’s obvious that Jon Bon Jovi didn’t get the memo. The fans want Richie Sambora back and they want him back now. Otherwise, change the name of the concert experience to Jon Bon Jovi and the Kings of Suburbia. Another point to note, a lot of the Bon Jovi memorabilia has the image of Jon Bon Jovi only. Sure, the band is called Bon Jovi, however as far as I am aware it still is a band. So where are the other members of the band on the memorabilia.

Richie Sambora was the person that Jon Bon Jovi could count on, regardless of what Jon says in the media. Richie was the one who was always there when Jon decided he wanted to be a rock star again. Richie always took a step back when Jon wanted to be a sitcom star or a movie star. Richie was the one that delivered a signature riff or a signature song, because the fact is Jon Bon Jovi cant.

FACT: it was Richie Sambora that wrote the majority of the music on Livin On A Prayer, and he was the one that went into bat for the song, when Jon wanted it off the album.

Go on YouTube and give Richie’s new song a listen. It’s called Come Back As Me. Who do you think Richie is referencing, when he sings, “What do you want me to say, I gave you everything I could give, but everything just wasn’t enough, so I just let live and live”. This is the kind of music an artist creates when they are not thinking about how many copies the song will sell. It is honest and heartfelt. Immediately, it makes a connection.

The song is a hundred times better than the songs that came out on What About Now. Since Richie only has five song writing credits on this album, you might as well call What About Now a Jon Bon Jovi solo album. Billy Falcon and John Shanks wrote the majority of the songs with Jon Bon Jovi.

Remember a small amount of too much spoils the whole thing.

Do we need a live album from Metallica of songs? They can call it a soundtrack or whatever they like. It’s still a live album. Remember that they released four DVD packages of Live Concerts during the Death Magnetic tour, as well as the Six Feet Down Under EP’s plus all the stuff they release on Live Metallica.

Do we need a Man Of Steel sequel that is going to include Batman? What a stupid decision. The thought of having Superman and Batman in the same movie is ridiculous to me. What the hell can Batman offer over Superman? Superman is the super man whereas Batman is just a bloke with gadgets.

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Music, Piracy, Stupidity

Richie Sambora Finally Speaks and Bye Bye, What About Now?

Let’s scream piracy.  Let’s scream tougher laws.

The PR machine from the RIAA and Bon Jovi will be saying that this album didn’t sell as much as it should have, because people downloaded it for free.  What a load of B.S?

The album is a DUD.  It is a bunch of 50-year-old men, trying to appeal to a teen market.  The teens that like Bon Jovi, like Bon Jovi because of the classic songs they have written, not because they try to sound like One Direction.

What About Now is sitting at 197 on the Billboard Chart.  The album has done its run.  Bon Jovi (the band) spent over 5 months recording and writing this album, only to have it do a run of 10 weeks.

Richie left for “personal reasons” according to Jon.  Now Jon Bon Jovi doesn’t want to talk about it anymore.   Then Jon drums up some publicity (as the album surely isn’t) by calling Justin Beiber an asshole.  Richie then finally speaks out about his departure.  He is pissed that Jon is talking trash and making it hard for him to return.

On the other hand, the Because We Can World Tour, is still continuing with shows booked all the way into 2014.

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Music

Bon Jovi – What About The Free Fall? Hello to 133.

Another week, another drop for the greatest album Bon Jovi has ever done.

In eight weeks, What About Now has gone from Number 1 to Number 133.  The Greatest Hits album is at 182 and it has been out for a long time, so I am predicting that What About Now will free fall past the Greatest Hits album out of the Top 200.

It’s time to set John Shanks and Billy Falcon free.  Find a new producer, like James Michael.  Set Billy Falcon free.  Find a new songwriting partner.  Get Phil X to contribute music.  It’s time to bring the rock back.  It’s time to write an album for your audience and not for a teenage market that doesn’t care about you.

And what is happening with Richie Sambora?  The fans deserve to know the truth.  Is he in or is he out?  Is he going to join the tour at all?   

The days of Richie Sambora being in Bon Jovi appear to be over.

Will another Bon Jovi album be released?  I don’t think so.  No one cares about it, if it is crap and that is exactly what the current album is, CRAP served on a grand scale.

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Music

Bon Jovi – What About dropping 20 places to 96?

The Bon Jovi tour juggernaut continues to book shows around the world.  Richie Sambora is still out due to personal reasons or issues.

The Australian tour just had Kid Rock added to the schedule.  Big thumbs up to Kid Rock for selling $20 concert tickets to his U.S. shows, as well as taking a cut on merchandise, parking and other sales.

Interesting to note, that Bon Jovi’s tour of Australia will be offering $32 ticket prices to Telstra customers.  However, this doesn’t mean that Bon Jovi is taking a loss or a pay cut.

Bon Jovi still get paid the monies offered to them.

This is Telstra taking a hit, so that they can push their brand even more.  This is Telstra sending a message out to fans of live music.  Telstra is saying, “Hey check us out, we are a real game player in the selling of cheap tickets to great live shows.”

However in order for the music lover to purchase, they need to be a Telstra customer.  So Telstra will be expecting a surge in memberships, which in turn, will be a surge in revenue.  It will be a big win for Telstra.

As a Telstra shareholder, I can’t complain with that.  Maybe they will increase their dividend payments one of these days?  What kind of $32 tickets they will be for a venue that fits 40,000 plus remains to be seen.

In the meantime, What About Now, the album described as the best thing we have ever done, by both Jon and Richie, continues to fall away on the charts.  After 7 weeks it’s down to position 96.

In comparison, the Greatest Hits album that Bon Jovi released in 2010, is still charting and selling.

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