Probably the best concert of its type ever. Each performance was right on target, not too long and thankfully they played mostly hits. The interstitial guests, Billy Crystal, Adam Sandler, Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart et al, were great and perfectly on mark. This statement does not apply to “Drunk Uncle”. That act has been done better for 100 years. The video clips were poignant. Getting the opportunity to see the 1st Responders who made such a difference in places like Breezy Point, New York City, Seaside Heights and the rest of the Jersey Shore made the tragedy that much more real.
It had to be one of the greatest nights in Jon Bon Jovi’s life. Jon played all hits and he and the band performed extremely well. I knew Jon pretty well when I was MTV and he was just breaking. His musical idols are Steve Van Zandt and Bruce Springsteen. Probably in that order. I am sure getting to sing “Born to Run” with Bruce and later having Bruce sing one of his songs was very special to Jon. Not that it was the first time it has ever happened. But the fact that it happened on such a world stage made it very special to him. He and his wife Dorothea are dealing with family issues with their daughter right now. I am sure the diversion was very welcome.
Last night was also special for Bon Jovi, because he is not considered “Rock Royalty”. The Stones, McCartney, The Who, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen and to some extent, Billy Joel well represented the upper echelon of this elite group. Jon is usually considered a half a step behind. Despite the fact that he has had a long and ridiculously successful career, he probably doesn’t get all the respect he deserves.
Bon Jovi is the poster child for “Hair Bands”. In the mid 80’s they were the best and biggest. All the other “Hair Bands are pretty much gone. But he is still here and as vital as ever. Jon is a smart businessman and has managed to defeat the odds. He is playing stadiums while bands of that genre are either missing major members due to drug or other deaths, playing clubs because that is all they can do, or have broken up altogether. Bon Jovi has finally reached the stages of ultimate legitimacy in the rock world. Last night was the coronation for JBJ and the band. Not to take anything away from the other members of the band, but this is ALL BECAUSE OF JON and his brilliance and attention to detail.
Now for the negative side of last night. It definitely proved that High Definition television is not for everybody. Actually it wasn’t for anybody last night. These bands are old and they look it. It has not affected their ability to put on a great show however.
The Stones cut their set short. At first I thought it was due to technical issues with Mick’s in-ear monitor. Instead I think it was because Mick is even smarter than Bon Jovi. The Stones have a big Pay-Per-View coming up. If they played too long, lots and I mean lots of people would have said, why bother to watch the PPV at $49.99 a pop. The Stones goal was to give folks just a little taste to make them tune in.
I probably would not have opened with Bruce. The audience was not yet settled. I also think a lot of the folks on the floor, have lots of money and were more concerned with being on TV than seeing the show. I have my doubts many were true fans. Just people who like to be at any “happening”. Kind of nauseating, but probably true.
Despite having to deal with Daltrey’s diminishing “pipes” The Who” were great last night. However, I could have done without seeing Daltrey’s shirt wide open. I do think that more than half of the people in the audience at the Garden, had no idea who Keith Moon was and the spirit of his appearance was meaningless.
Despite a terrific performance by Alicia Keys, she did not belong on the show. She is not remotely close to the level of the other folks on the bill. Her solo set brought down the energy of the night. This is not her fault. She got invited to play and how exactly do you say no?
Kanye was interesting and performed well. But my sense is that 90% of the white folks watching the show at home took a bathroom break here. Not because they are racist, but because they just don’t get Kanye and at their age don’t care to try. He is better suited for a younger, more broadminded audience.
Chris Martin also is not in this class. Trying to force a more contemporary artist into this group should have not been attempted. Martin has never been known as a great singer and it was apparent last night. He is a good performer and pulled it off however. Bringing Michael Stipe on-stage was a great idea. But how did he get so old in such a short time?
This may be one of the last of these shows we will ever see. These artists are literally dying-off as is their audience. What was boldly apparent last night is that there is no one to take the place of these greats. The new crop of performers quite honestly don’t have the breadth of talent and won’t have the longevity. More than anything, the significant role the internet plays in music, spreads things out a lot. You have more artists that can make music, but less that become truly huge. Things are just too diffused. There are acts that are big, but in a much more defined area. It is more like narrowcasting than broadcasting.
Who would play on a show such as this in 2022? Greenday, Adele, Avengefold 7, oh yeah…The Rolling Stones.