New Jersey boys plan return Down Under ...........
New Jersey boys Bon Jovi head back to Australia in December, writes Kathy McCabe
JUST like his most famous music characters, Livin’ On A Prayer’s Tommy and Gina, Jon Bon Jovi knows surviving adversity is the connection which resonates most strongly with his audience of millions.
For 30 years, New Jersey’s second most-famous son and his Bon Jovi bandmates – Richie Sambora, Tico Torres and Dave Bryan – have made struggle town anthems and rallying cries to rise above it all their stock in trade.
Their new album, What About Now, is no different. Songs such as the title track, The Fighter and What’s Left Of Me hook into the plight of the everyman which has also been the bailiwick long shared by Bon Jovi’s mate, Bruce Springsteen – who opens his Australian tour at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre tonight.
‘‘Sure, it’s a classic subject matter for rock music – and it’s never going to go away,’’ Bon Jovi says.
‘‘A lot of these songs address what has happened after the first term of Barack Obama. And they are not candy-coated – they are pointing a finger and taking a social, not a political, stance.’’
He adds, laughing: ‘‘(But) you can’t say ‘Baby, baby, baby’ all the time. (The album cut That’s What The Water Made Me stars with those very words.) If you are trying to explain something to someone, ‘wait, wait, wait’ isn’t a good lyric.
‘‘Songs are meant to be conversations and you have to start from somewhere.’’
Bon Jovi takes great pains to insist ‘‘this is not a political record at all’’.
Bon Jovi was one of the first onground after Hurricane Sandy decimated his home state and was named a member of Obama’s White House Council for Community Solutions two years ago.
But when it comes to music, the songwriter sees himself as a commentator, rather than an agitator.
‘‘This album is trying to consider more social equality,’’ he says.
‘‘I have been blessed to travel the world and see enough in my 50 years and the conclusion I’ve come to is that’s what we need.’’
A couple of months after the triumphant Concert For Sandy Relief, Bon Jovi is still buzzing from not only its fundraising success but its myriad rock star moments.
Organisers assembled a Triple A-list of rock’s biggest names, with Springsteen and Bon Jovi rubbing shoulders backstage with Sir Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Chris Martin.
‘‘Oh yeah, there were some moments,’’ Bon Jovi says.
‘‘There are all these pictures hung on the walls backstage at the (Madison Square) Garden which depict moments from over the years and on that night, all those pictures came to life.
‘‘There were The Stones and The Beatles and The Who and Bruce and Bon Jovi . . . it was crazy, crazy good. That concert was a slice of rock history.
‘‘I think every kid dreams about things like that but I never thought 30 years ahead to something like that.
‘‘And it felt so different to the 9/11 show. It felt like we could fix this one.’’
While he wouldn’t dare to dream about reaching the level of success he since achieved – and the power it offers him – when he was a teenager sweeping floors at his cousin’s recording studio, Bon Jovi believed there was a fair bit of that boy left in the man.
‘‘A lot of hours of each day, I still feel like that kid, still with that chip of my shoulder to prove I can do it,’’ he says. ‘‘I always feel that in the anticipation of a show or the excitement of a record coming out.’’
What About Now is out now. Bon Jovi will tour Australia in December; dates to be announced soon. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band play sold-out shows in Brisbane tonight and on Saturday. Tickets are still available for their Sydney show on March 22.
Jon Bon Jovi (left) and fellow New Jersey star Bruce Springsteen (right) perform during 12-12-12 – The Concert For Sandy Relief at New York’s Madison Square Garden.