ST. LOUIS - On a beautiful Sunday night in St. Louis, church was in session. The congregation was made up of men and women of all ages, and they were all there to hear the gospel according to Jon.
Jon Bon Jovi, that is.
The Scottrade Center hosted the New Jersey native and the rest of Bon Jovi Feb. 19 on their “This House Is Not For Sale” tour, supporting the new album of the same name.
After nearly 35 years of making music, you might think these legends of the hair-band era may have missed a step or that they were just reliving the "glory days," But the truth is they still know how to put on a show, and the set is filled with new tracks from the latest album.
While there are almost certainly fans who would just rather hear a "greatest hits" show, that does a great disservice to the creative talent that Jon and his crew bring to the music world. The new album, like the man himself and the band as a whole, is a more mature version of those guys that ruled MTV is years past.
The album is strong, with singles that radio will love and deeper cuts that fans should appreciate.
How does that new material translate into the live show?
Incredibly well, as it turns out. Six tracks off of the new album made the set list, including the title track kicking off the show. The energy and the skill of the band flowed seamlessly with the see-through curtain splashed with the titular house from the album cover, framing Jon Bon Jovi right in the front door, kicking open the door to the show. Following a second new song (“Knockout”), the crowd roared to the opening chorus of “You Give Love A Bad Name” and were barely able to catch their breath after that.
The songs you'd expect to hear were all there: “I'll Sleep When I'm Dead,” “Lay Your Hands On Me,” “Bad Medicine” and “Who Says You Can't Go Home.” And with these, Mr. Bon Jovi told stories of the struggles his band has had in recent years, including the departure of long-time guitarist Richie Sambora. Songs like “God Bless This Mess” and “Scars on This Guitar” come right from the heart and show that even success stories like these guys can hit those bumps in the road, but they keep driving on.
The show was punctuated by a set that managed to be both elaborate and minimalist at the same time. With only a few uses of backdrops (see-through with projected images, since the seats behind the stage were full, also), the real highlight of the stage-setting came from above, with a light right that would swoop and swing to highlight band members or audience as needed.
Adding to this were a dozen telescoping platforms alternating with lights descending from the rigging above. When they weren't in use, they all dropped or hoisted out of sight to keep the stage looking very clean.
The show wrapped up with the biggest hits of the band, including “Wanted Dead or Alive” and show-closer “Livin' on a Prayer.” With these last two numbers, the shepherd of this flock could have simply stood back and conducted his chorus of the faithful (and he did a few times). These are the hymns that every member of this church knows, and those thousands of people raised a mighty voice in the Gateway city.
And it was good.