Pop-Break Live: Bon Jovi at The Barrymore Theater in New York City
As part of the Tidal X concert and live stream special, Bon Jovi performed its entire new album, This House is Not for Sale, from Broadway in New York City.
So why a live performance? Jon Bon Jovi explained that he wanted to do a live listening party and came up with the concept, “Bon Jovi on Broadway” and his manager thought he had lost his mind. Apparently he had misinterpreted and thought that Bon Jovi wanted to put together a broadway show. While that would’ve been a unique experience, the approximately 950 person audience, instead, got a different yet equally unique experience, the opportunity to listen to Bon Jovi play its new album in its entirety as well as listen to Bon Jovi tell stories behind the music, the emotions, and the roller coaster ride that Bon Jovi, as a band, has gone through in the past few years with the departure of Richie Sambora, label struggles, and the stress of a new album.
The band kicked off the show with the brand new single, “This House is Not for Sale.” The current single proved the band has a wonderful harmony that blew me away and Jon Bon Jovi was dancing like a fool in the best way possible. If you haven’t heard the tune yet, it’s a bigger song reminiscent of “Have a Nice Day” and really got the crowd hooked from the start.
After playing the first two tracks from the album Bon Jovi took a minute off to tell the crowd about the premise behind the show and bit about the songs. We learned about how Bon Jovi grew up listening to albums that told a story, had a beginning a middle and an end and how that was the goal for this record. At this point he also told us a bit about the album’s cover art, a photo that was taken back in 1982 and described how it was representative of the band. It is sturdy with deep roots but is in disarray. He thought the four walls had a story to tell and represented the band. No wrecking ball could tear it or them down and that was really the story of their last 32 years. This concept really does encapsulate the state of Bon Jovi as a band with its recent struggles.
The third song performed was “Knockout,” which is likely to be the second single from the album. There is something eerily familiar about this song. It sounds like an 80s hair band rock song and Bon Jovi explained that it was from the perspective of when he was 18 years old and knocked on the radio station’s door to get his music played. If anyone can figure out what songs this song reminds them of, please let me know because it’s so familiar but I can’t put my finger on why or what it reminds me of.
The one major misstep on this album and from the show was the fourth tune, “Labor of Love.” This was an attempt at a “Bed of Roses” kind of song and instead of sounding romantic and deep, it sounds almost creepy. I literally felt uncomfortable in my seat listening to the lyrics and watching the performance. To be fair, some of the late 50-something year old women were totally digging it. Thankfully, the fifth song, “Born Again Tomorrow” reeled the crowd back in. Bon Jovi describes the song perfectly by saying that it’s for the kind of person who would see a brick wall and instead of stopping, would run right through it even though you know it’s going to hurt like hell.
As a fan, if you want to hear something familiar, check out “Rollercoaster,” but if you want to hear something truly different, proof that the band is still evolving even now, check out “The Devil’s in the Temple” or “We Don’t Run.” These two tracks were originally recorded for the Bon Jovi compilation album without Sambora, Burning Bridges. We learned from the band that a year and a half ago their contracts were up and they had one last album to turn in. Because of the stressful relationship with the label at the time, Bon Jovi wanted to just drop off the album in a paper bag and move on from the relationship; however, the label and the band made up and, instead, This House is Not For Sale was recorded and these two songs were revisited, rerecorded and rereleased. These two songs are dark and heavy and everything you expect Bon Jovi to not be. They are angry and passionate and powerful and must listen to tracks.
For the Bon Jovi country fans, there is a track or two for you too. Check out “Scars on this Guitar” or even “Come on Up to Our House.”
Sadly the new album falls short in a few places, “Reunion,” a song Bon Jovi wrote when he was asked to speak at Rutgers graduation; “Real Love” which is really reminiscent of a bad chick flick in a song; and “All Hail the King,” a song with a great message but is just not sonically where it should be.
The new album is familiar, different, strong and weak depending completely upon which track you happen to catch but it does tell a story. Bon Jovi finished telling its story with an encore of “Who Says you Can’t Go Home” and “Bad Medicine.” I know the fans were itching for something more, maybe another great classic or two so the encore was a bit of a let down but the two songs the band did perform sounded great.
Bon Jovi Set List:
This House is Not For Sale
Living with The Ghost
Labor of Love
Born Again Tomorrow
New Year’s Day
The Devil’s in the Temple
Scars on This Guitar
God Bless This Mess
All Hail The King
We Don’t Run
Come on Up to Our House
Who Says you Can’t Go Home