He was your "Little Runaway," and he's been wanted and not so wanted dead or alive, but Jon Bon Jovi still ends up finding away to stick around by coming up with success in the Eighties, Nineties, and several times in this decade so far. For this A&E recorded event, the band play their latest album, Lost Highway (and a few encores) in theatre maxed with their most dedicated. The show is more of a listening-party, if you will, only instead of gathering around to listen to a CD; Bon Jovi talks and sings you through the tracks, one by one.
Opening up with the title-track, the band sound relaxed and confident. Jon let's the crowd know what they're in for, and they go into "Summertime," A song that could have been written for a tampons selling, Meridith Brooks. The band sound completely polished, Ritchie Sambora's fretwork is clean, but more obvious is the addition of a host of other musicians on stage The next song has a lot more emotion and depth to it, from the eerie lap-steel, to Ritchie Sambora's desperate back-up's on "(You Want To) Make A Memory." The main riff is not so different than "With Or Without You," but these guys aren't U2, and their version of commercial ends up being much more saccharine. "Whole Lotta Leavin'," kicks off with a country-stomp and evolves into an energetic "good-bye" song, but more than that, it reveals am almost contrived decision to shift into that Nashville-pop market.
So by now, you're starting to realize that no matter how much this sounds like Bon Jovi, this is a completely new Bon Jovi; his rap is that of the Springsteen-gone-countryboy, an this band sounds like they were picked off of Music Row. He's even found a way to squeeze in some of that disco-fiddle, on "We Got It Going On," but surprisingly pulls you back to the "Bad Medicine," with Sambora on the talk-box and everything. This is certainly a more mature Bon Jovi, but far from being embarrassing, the level of musicianship has improved with age; even the singer's voice, which went through some growing pains, is the most controlled and on key he's ever been. His partner Sambora, whose personal/public issues were referenced, seems to have it together on the fretboard, and is nimble moving back and forth from leads (where he's cradled by the addition of the extra guitarists) to rhythm guitar.
This is the first time, claims Jon Bon Jovi, the band performed an album from start to finish, and after congratulating each other the leader let's know there's other albums to cover. 1999's, "It's My Life" is the first song of the bonus set, but when Ritchie Sambora whips out the cowboy hat, we know what's next. "Wanted Dead Or Alive," is performed well, even if Bon Jovi seems to be fatiguing vocally and the guitar solo almost as frail. I find the whole New Jersey commercial song annoying, and even the country version of "Who Says You Can't Go Home" can't save it.
(YOU WANT TO) MAKE A MEMORY
WHOLE LOT OF LEAVIN'
WE GOT IT GOING ON
ANY OTHER DAY
SEAT NEXT TO YOU
TILL WE AIN'T STRANGERS ANYMORE
THE LAST NIGHT
ONE STEP CLOSER
LOVE THIS TOWN
IT'S MY LIFE
WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE
WHO SAYS YOU CAN'T GO HOME
Shot in hi-def and presented in widescreen, there's no complaints about the video quality. The stage-set had that country bar feel, with warm oranges, rich browns, and solid blacks.
The audio options are 5.1 Surround or in Stereo via PCM. Tico Torres' drums sound fat enough, and give off a pretty good rumble when he hits the toms, and the high fiddles and twanging guitars never seemed to clash. The overall is more than adequate in replicating both the concert and home theatre experience.
The four remaining original members are interviewed here, some clips more interesting than others. Bon Jovi talks about songwriting and his love of music, Sambora talks about hitting it big on the country charts, David Bryan reminds us about the success, and Tico Torres shows the most heart talking about growing up and cutting the hair (was he on the Sopranos yet?).
Set Design Sketches: The street and bar scene they made for a set was cool, but it's nothing too fascinating. However, if you choose to take a look at the sketches they're here for the clicking.
Ringtones: While not offering any classics, you can text away for ringtones from the new album.
Lost Highway Trailer This is a commercial for the album.
Bon Jovi never promised us that they would be a tough rock band, even from the beginning the girls seemed more interested in the tight-jeans, teased hair, and teenage face, but somehow they created a few songs that had a little edge. As they grew up, they lost that edge and embarrassed the swooning girlies - and managed to hold their gaze through the aging process. Part of it is that the ladies grew up with them, the other factor is that the songwriting is still catchy enough to sell records; and if going down to Nashville proves anything, its that Jon Bon Jovi appreciates the craftsmanship of songwriting more than ever. Do I like these songs? Not the point. Is this DVD a must for a fan? Probably, but it would have been even better if the interviews weren't so skimpy, and there were a few more songs in the bonus set. Some footage down in Nashville or in the studio making the album would have also come in handy.
Why are our days numbered and not, say, lettered?