July 26, 2010

Jon's happy with the setlists...apparently.

The Goddess Hath posted this on her blog, and it caught my attention:

In an article from The Boston Globe, Sarah Rodman asks Jon some pretty standard questions, but got some really great answers. It was a good read. What I found most interesting was in the lead-in, so that's what I'm going to concentrate on here this morning.

Bon Jovi may only be playing one show at Gillette Stadium, but thanks to recent residencies at other venues — including 12 nights at London’s O2 arena — the band is primed to play just about anything. Whether it’s tracks from the multiplatinum rockers’ most recent release, "The Circle," expected hits like "Livin’ on a Prayer" or a deep cut from his "Young Guns II"-inspired solo album "Blaze of Glory", Jon Bon Jovi is prepared.

"A lot of bands write a set list and go out and do that all year. We’ve never been that kind of band," the frontman said recently by phone from Philadelphia. Just don’t expect to hear ’80s pop metal anthem 'In & Out of Love.' Ever again. "Oh lord, no thank you. Pass."

The second paragraph is what caught my eye. Bon Jovi NOT doing the same set list all year? Really? For those who have been following the posted set lists, there has been very little variation in the content of said lists. I say content, because strictly speaking the set list has not been identical each night. And to the band's credit, they have been throwing in audibles (most recently this past Saturday with Always and I Love This Town in the encore) and digging deep for some gems that have made the Fandom very happy. But overall, to borrow a line from Two Story Town, "it's just the same old sights, and the same old sounds".

Not that I don't still love them, because I do. It's just that you can't tout yourself as a "we've never been like that" when in fact you ARE like that. You, the band for whom "there's no dancers, there's no diamonds" have replaced these with TelePrompTers and "scripted" song choices. I don't have the reference handy, but I know I've read in more than one place that the band was proud that they had more than 90 songs programmed for the tour.


What happened to the days of "Hey, the crowd looks into it, let's dig deep for something that will knock them on their asses"? Now it's "Let's see what's programmed into the cheater on the stage, and what we have graphics done up for".

This was my comment/reply:

This is a great post - I think it succinctly sums up what many of us in the 'Fandom' are feeling. The entire debate over who wants what song and why aside, Jon's remark that they never were that kind of band made my jaw drop. Does he REALLY think that, or does he REALLY think he's fooling us all into believing it?

I thought that with the endless urging from fans everywhere, he'd have gotten the hint. It seems he did in London, anyway, which so far has seen the best setlists of the tour. But when they came back to NMS right afterward, it was straight back to vanilla, standard hits. THAT to me was not cool, especially considering that it's your hometown and more fans would know the b-sides and rarer songs in that area than any other around the globe. At least, you'd think so from a performer's standpoint.

Ah well. Unfortunately it makes it a little easier for me to go through my withdrawals -- I won't see them again until next year in Europe. Hopefully by then, they'll be tired of the standard hits and cookie cutter, PROGRAMMED sets. But probably not.

What do you all think? This is an issue among Jovi fans that has been boiling since they opened the tour in February, and if you're ever on Twitter, the fire is stoked at every single PBP. Comments like "again?!" and "where's the new stuff?" and "Oh, PLEASE let them play that in [city name]", when the band does do a rarity, abound. Endlessly.

I'm not saying the setlists are completely identical. I've heard a few gems in my six shows, on two opposite U.S. coasts. But I find myself literally growing tired of Bad Medicine and Bad Name, and if I hear "it's all right" one more time, I just might rip my hair out. Not that they aren't good songs, they're just tiring to hear at every. single. show. And not just on this tour....on every one since Bounce!

I know why they play them, I've been in many a discussion about it before. The general audience is just a general fan, and if the band played all rare stuff or a box set program, critics would eat them alive. But Jon's comment that they "never were" that kind of band made me laugh. Because they are.

They can certainly throw in more of the good stuff, the gems, the rare from the underbelly of their albums. Because there IS a substantial portion of their audience that DOES know them, DOES like them, and DOES WANT them. When you've been writing and performing for 25+ years, you have a thorough enough catalog that you could play a different setlist every night for a week.

But the key is you have to find that balance.

What do you all think?


Linda said...

Well, I see you also have Turn The Page from Toronto on your blog so I don't see how anyone can say they're not doing 'different' stuff. If they didn't play the 'anthems' they wouldn't be the stars they are. In North America if you watch the crowd, not us who have been to more than two shows this and every other tour...the regular crowd who are only going one night. They are up singing and dancing to Bad Name and Prayer, and when 'different' things happen like Richie singing or a B-side song there is a mass exodus to the bathrooms and the place falls silent because no one knows the words. The anthems are what keep them going. Would I love to hear Love is War live? Sure I would. But I'd probably be one of a handful of people that even know the song. I walked out of the 2nd Toronto show thinking the setlist was out of this world and talked to some 'fan club' people who thought the night before when only hit songs were played was the best night. I was floored that they would even think that. On the second night we got Turn The Page and Damned, etc., etc. It just depends on personal preference and they are never going to please everyone all the time.

Becky said...

Well I said in my post that I know they play gems now and then, so I'm not accusing them of never doing so. And I agree they need to play the anthems and what we regard as the vanilla stuff to please the mass audience. But there are enough fans who do want the different stuff that they could afford to throw in a bit more. They have already done so with some shows, like in Toronto apparently, and in London. But so many shows go by with standard, "boring" sets that this issue has come up for a reason. My whole purpose for this post was in response to Jon's comment, after all. :)

Linda said...

Didn't mean it to sound accusational at all, sorry if it did. From what I have heard as I've never seen a show in Europe that it's a very different fan base over there and that is one of the reasons they do 'different' stuff over there. I guess I just agree with Jon I'm extremely satisfied with the setlists I've had at all my shows. Let's hope Chicago is the same! :)

Karen said...

I have to agree with Linda.. even though most of the people we know who go to the shows could recite the whole catalog backwards and forwards.. the majority of the people in the arenas and stadiums are people who may not be the fans we are. Many go because they are Bon Jovi, others go because they hop concert to concert, and others go because they havent seen them since the 1980's. and the list goes on..

So they have to play the hits.. if they don't they wont appeal to the whole audience. If they play too many rarities that others really dont know like we do, they wouldnt fill the arenas like they do.

That being said... If I hear one more "It's Alright" I will pull my hair out too! :)

Becky said...

Linda, I didn't take it like that! I agree with you, I just wanted to make sure my point was clear in general. I do know there are reasons why they do the setlists the way they do, I just think there's plenty of wiggle room. :)

Karen, Jenn and I sang IT'S NOT ALL RIGHT! at all three NMS shows, as did my CA girls and I did in SoCal. :p It's funny, I was one of the first to hear that song in 2005 before the album even came out, you'd think I'd be partial to it. Nope, it drives me mad. LOL