Bon Jovi

support Jens Marni
author PP date 06/06/13 venue Parken, Copenhagen, DEN

Initial reports of ticket sales to Bon Jovi at Parken Stadium suggested poor performance, but from my vantage point at the press box, it certainly looks like Parken is about 90% full once Bon Jovi kick off their concert. I'm feeling oddly young at 28 years old; the audience namely consists mostly of people well into their 30s and 40s, characterized mostly by their appearance as 'familien Danmark', or the ordinary Danish family man/woman. Not exactly a crowd of music enthusiasts that we usually see at the shows we cover here at Rockfreaks.net.

Jens Marni

Jens Marni

Perhaps this is why Faroese musician Jens Marni has been picked as the support band tonight. He was once a Danish Melody Grand Prix participant leading 2010's contest by public vote, but the 50/50 weighing between audience and judge panel meant he didn't finish in the top four in the contest. He plays straight up radio rock that's as safe as it is predictable, comparable equally to 3 Doors Down as it is to Keane and other pop rock artists. Musically, it's of course mind-numbingly boring, but yet it's an oddly fitting support considering the audience type tonight. Moreover, he does have a great voice that leans slightly on the American southern state style, with grungy charisma on some of his choruses, and all songs relying on big, simple vocal melodies to drive them home. It's a good band to have on the background warming up the crowd, so the show feels reasonably good despite its musical shortcomings.

Bon Jovi

Bon Jovi

Prior to the concert the press corps had been sent a PDF document outlining just how ridiculous the stage production would be for the rock and roll superstars tonight. 8,500 amps (seriously), 821 kilometres of cable, 250 crew members, 430 tons of steel, 626,208 LED lights, 103 trucks for transportation of the stage... those are numbers that make any other production pale in comparison, and fortify the idea that Bon Jovi is one of the few genuine rock stars alive. Thus when you enter the stadium and catch the first glimpse of the absolutely mammoth structure on stage, the only thing you can hear are the ohhs and the wows of everyone else entering simultaneously.

Bon Jovi

Basically, the stage consists of an enormous, gigantic reconstruction of a classic 1959 Buick Electra, complete with the hood of the car, massive headlights acting as the lighting setup, and a grill made entirely out of video screens where the band is performing. On the sides, you have humongous video screens following every move of the band and showing whatever animation the band's team has created (such as a reinterpretation of the classic raising the flag on Iwo Jima image, modified to feature Bon Jovi instead). The windshield consists of yet more screens that, when it gets darker, make it look like the band are actually driving the Buick as they are projected above it. It is quite literally, and I kid you not, the most ridiculously large stage production I've ever seen in my life built for a live show, and the wealth of video effects (such as projecting COPENHAGEN, RAISE YOUR HANDS during the lyrics to that song), animations and footage of the band make it feel even more elaborate. Spectacular, is the word to be used here, which almost excuses the traditionally terrible sound at Parken, which plagues the band tonight as well.

Two keyboards like a boss

Mr Jon Bon Jovi himself isn't one to fall short compared to his structure. He enters the stage wearing a sleeveless black leather vest that's open almost all the way to his navel, which, to quote my colleague TL's words that evening, is an outfit none of us will ever be cool enough to wear on any occasion. His actions mirror his rock star image as well, with multiple outfit changes contrasting the big solos where he flies the guitar high up, or encourages the crowd to scream with big hand movements, etc. All the classic rock star moves you probably saw in The School Of Rock are aired tonight for good measure, including their keyboardist jamming on two separate keyboards at the same time (one in each hand). The stage extends down the middle and far down to the extremes on the side, which means Bon Jovi can utilize all of the space to really rock out with their cock out as the popular expression says. It's totally cheesy, but when you're Bon Jovi you can pull of the biggest cheesefest on the entire planet and still come across as relatively convincing.

Bon Jovi

And why not act like a rock star when you have the songs to back you up? "It's My Life" has all of the 30,000+ people present screaming along, as does "You Give Love A Bad Name" and of course the all time classic "Livin' On A Prayer". While the vast majority of the crowd is clearly here only to hear the classic few tracks they've heard in the radio, seen on the MTV, or just remember from when they were growing up, the front pit fan club is predictably totally into it throughout the whole show. During "Who Says You Can't Go Home", Bon Jovi picks a random girl from the pits and asks if she knows how to sing the song (a rhetorical question, of course she does, if she's in the front pits for Bon Jovi), and proceeds to bring her on stage. After security escorts her up to the biggest stadium stage in Denmark, Jon Bon Jovi proceeds to sing a duet with her, alternating lines and letting her sing considerably long segments of the song by herself. She's actually not a half-bad singer, so the crowd responds with a thunderous roar, especially since the cameras pan on her and Jon, who seductively stares right in her eyes as if to sing the song entirely to her and her only. It reminds me of Green Day teaching one of their songs to a fan each night, but somehow this feels less planned and more spontaneous, to Bon Jovi's credit.

Bon Jovi

But despite a wealth of memorable moments throughout the set (most of them relating to the ridiculous stage structure and the video effects), the stadium is almost awkwardly silent during the songs that aren't deemed as megahits. This suggests exactly one thing: yes, the setup on stage is amazing, but really, are the songs that good? Nobody is denying that Bon Jovi have written some of the biggest songs of in the history of the genre, but they have also written a lot of cheesy pop rock songs whose time passed at least two decades ago, that today feel irrelevant at best, terrible at worst. When you're playing in front of 30,000+ people and only get sing alongs to a few songs, you're squarely in the category of legacy bands, that's for sure.

Setlist:

  • 1. That's What the Water Made Me
  • 2. You Give Love a Bad Name
  • 3. Born to Be My Baby
  • 4. Raise Your Hands
  • 5. Runaway
  • 6. Lost Highway
  • 7. It's My Life
  • 8. Because We Can
  • 9. What About Now
  • 10. We Got It Goin' On
  • 11. Keep the Faith
  • 12. (You Want to) Make a Memory
  • 13. I'll Be There for You
  • 14. Captain Crash & the Beauty Queen From Mars
  • 15. We Weren't Born to Follow
  • 16. Who Says You Can't Go Home
  • 17. I'll Sleep When I'm Dead
  • 18. Roadhouse Blues (The Doors cover)
  • 19. Oh, Pretty Woman (Roy Orbison cover)
  • 20. Bad Medicine
  • --Encore--
  • 21. In These Arms
  • 22. Blood Money
  • 23. Wanted Dead or Alive
  • 24. Living in Sin
  • 25. Have a Nice Day
  • 26. Livin' on a Prayer

Photos by: Lykke Nielsen

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