I ve been following the This House is Not for Sale Tour in the media, and I ve noticed something no one seems to have picked up on.
And as we enter the last week of the Bon Jovi European tour, I want to share my findings because I feel it can shed a more positive light on this tour.
In the photo you see Jon Bon Jovi at one of the gigs (I m not even going to say which one) which had people worried. And honestly, when I dug into it, and saw the avoidable mistakes that had caused a hostile atmosphere right up there in the front row area, I was surprised to even find a picture where he looks so happy.
You can see him putting on a good show, NO MATTER FREAKIN WHAT.
He’ll be damned if he lets anyone walk out of there, thinking he gave a concert on energy-save mode, blaming everyone else and your mother for not delivering the right circumstances for him to perform.
It reminds me of a story back in the day when they opened for The Scorpions and made it their goal to win over every hostile audience they were faced with.
Even if they didn’t succeed: It wasn’t for lack of trying.
And they still have that mentality now. It’s the first thing I don’t see enough credit for. Overbooked golden circles. Audiences with dump-sale ticket holders or empty seats. Torrential rain.
They’ll work it.
As they will do with the day-to-day appeal on them, in real life and on social media.
Bon Jovi has never been known for not being one hundred percent professional. You could even say they have a borderline workhorse mentality.
Which makes sense since Jon Bon Jovi is a self-proclaimed workaholic.
However, I believe it is at this point, with regard to his work ethic, where the audience and reviewers start taking the wrong turn. It is the moment when, and I think this has been going on since the eighties too, a conclusion, a vision, an assumption is made, that is not, nor will it ever be, valid.
I think this wrong trail of thought – which I ll address in a minute – was probably so eagerly embraced as the truth because of the other New Jersey rocker Bruce Springsteen.
If Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen share the same background, the same inclusive songs, the same working class bravado, then why would the audience expect anything else but solid 3 hour shows from Bon Jovi?
That is the mistake I was talking about:
Because Bon Jovi are hard workers, just like Springsteen, there is an assumption that Jon Bon Jovi’s voice has a consistent output, a consistent quality.
Just like a Springsteen.
Now, I may or I may not be the right person to make this comparison.
You could argue that I m not, because I m not a Springsteen fan at all. Although I feel no resistance towards him either, and I love watching shows on YouTube where Jon Bon Jovi and Springsteen share the stage.
But you could also say that because I don’t feel any appeal towards Springsteen, I am exactly the right person to make this observation about Jon Bon Jovi’s voice.
In all likeliness the thing I find there, and what makes me a fan of him, is the thing that Springsteen doesn’t have.
The reason we don’t get 3 hour Bon Jovi shows.
And that’s causing Jon Bon Jovi’s voice to waver in quality, causing in turn worries and headaches with the band, the fans, and everybody depending on it.
Jon Bon Jovi’s voice, just like any voice, is directly linked to his emotions. And in his case, these are not stable grounds.
Not at all.
I believe that 36 years into the band’s career, Jon Bon Jovi is way more complicated and sensitive than anyone is willing to admit.
Least of all him.
One of the things that struck me, listening back to their records of the eighties, is how on earth we ever let anyone label this band as shallow?
I knew the 80s were cruel, but to judge a band where you can just hear the emotion with every word sung? And at least one song on every album that requires you putting your heart back into your chest after listening?
Bon Jovi shallow?
And everyone a fan of Bon Jovi connects to this sensitive, emotional aspect.
I m incredibly certain of it.
We want to listen to that voice year in year out, because he reflects all those emotions that we have too. We just can’t reach them, or they hurt too much.
We let Jon process them for us, and then we just applaud after the song.
“Good song! Really powerful!”
So I think that would be the first soothing thought:
That what we call quality of voice, is actually quality of emotions.
And for the voice to be good, Jon needs to be in a really good place. I have seen this observation being made, I m not the only one seeing that Jon being in a good place is essential for his performance.
But that is not enough.
For half of the songs… maybe.
But the more difficult the songs, and especially the songs that are not even on their standard set list, the more something else is required:
For Jon to leave that spot of feeling good and certain and to plunge in. This is when he connects to the deeper emotions he’s having that day, or when he wrote the song. In fact I m pretty sure he doesn’t know where the emotion is going to come from, or what it’s going to be about.
But it’s a connection to his deepest Self.
And again, I am absolutely certain of it.
If he feels that connection then everything goes really smoothly, and the world is at his feet. The connection can also be established during his time on stage. I ve seen it happening when I ll be there for you, split the concert in two. With the better half being after he found his voice, his purpose, his divine reason for being on this earth right there in I ll be there for you.
With tens of thousands of people singing “Who-who-whoa” remarkably in tune as well, on the background.
As if that was the moment they literally were there for him, and he knew it. He could let go of all the struggle, all the trying, he could let go of putting in all the work.
They were there for him.
And then he could fly.
There is a comparison, and it’s one used in parenting and at schools. How some children are like dandelions and some are like orchids.
The dandelions will grow regardless of the quality of their teacher, and regardless of all the issues of their parents. They will grow in a courtyard of stone if needed.
But the orchid children have special needs, and no one is ever fully certain what it is going to be this time. What has given flowers one year, may cause the leaves to turn yellow the next.
In this spectrum, Jon Bon Jovi can give us a dandelion. He’ll never fail at that.
But if we want the orchid to come out, more patience is required.
A lot of letting go is required.
I remember that before I went to the concert, I had already decided that whatever was going to happen, was going to be exactly right.
Even if the power failed and the entire audience had to hold its breath because otherwise no one could hear.
Even if Jon said after one hour: “I have to go, my voice is shit.”
The reason I could let go of all expectations, was not because I’m altruistic or spiritual. Not at all.
But because I wanted to see the orchid bloom. And the only way to do that, is to accept that you may not see any flower at all.
An unexamined life is not worth living
This piece on Jon Bon Jovi’s voice, got an unofficial part 2:
A Redemption Arc for Richie Sambora
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