Boston Herald article
|Stadium magic: Still a fan favorite, Bon Jovi blazes into Foxboro
Sometimes lyrics just don’t hold up. Take Bon Jovi’s “Wanted Dead or Alive”: It’s not all the same and a lot more than the names have changed. Both Bon Jovi’s hair and his audience are a lot different. The hair has gotten smaller, but the audience has not.
“When I was growing up, my idea of a successful rock band was Southside Johnny or the J. Geils Band,” said Jon Bon Jovi, who brings his namesake band to Gillette Stadium on Thursday. “To me, those were big rock bands. I never wanted to be in Led Zeppelin or Kiss in the ’70s; that was beyond my comprehension. So to tell you that I’m playing Gillette - again - is unfathomable.”
Bon Jovi first found platinum success in the teased-out hair band explosion of the ’80s. But while the band used the same hooks as Def Leppard and Poison, there was something different about these New Jersey boys. They couldn’t have been less British; they never even pretended to be from the Sunset Strip. Maybe it was that East Coast pedigree, but Bon Jovi’s music always seemed more populist than most.
Jon Bon Jovi wrote lyrics such as“Tommy used to work on the docks/Union’s been on strike/He’s down on his luck/It’s tough, so tough.”
Def Leppard may have been from the working-class steel town of Sheffield, England,but they didn’t write songs about it. The only guy in the ’80s singing about dockworkers and unions was, not surprisingly, New Jersey de facto poet laureate and Bon Jovi antecedent Bruce Springsteen.
Well, something about Bon Jovi’s populist approach worked - because, like Springsteen and few others, the band has graduated to selling out football stadiums. In addition to the Foxboro date, the band played three sold-out show at 80,000-seat Giants Stadium in New Jersey this past week.
“We continued to write songs that had relevance and that were on the radio,” Bon Jovi said flatly. “With ‘It’s My Life,’ we found a whole new generation of fans with the most self-indulgent lyric I’ve ever written. It was me writing about Sinatra’s ‘My Way,’ but people didn’t care about that. They found it a song that empowered them.”
Jon Bon Jovi’s made failed movies, raised money for failed presidential campaigns and even gotten old, which is usually enough to kill the career of a pretty face. But after almost 25 years of big ups and small downs, he is still making hits:the band’s duet with Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” topped the country charts only a few months ago.
Maybe its his ability to compartmentalize - or his fans’ ability to - that keeps him from alienating his base.
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