New Jersey boys plan re­turn Down Un­der ...........

New Jersey boys Bon Jovi head back to Aus­tralia in De­cem­ber, writes Kathy Mc­Cabe

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - PLAY CONTENTS -

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.

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