Jon Bon Jovi shook so many hands during his hometown shows that if he announced he was running for office, no one would be surprised. During a concert a week before Bon Jovi was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the frontman with the 100-watt smile climbed into the stands to kiss fans and pose for selfies.
And it’s no surprise that Bon Jovi, 56, is ecstatic. The charismatic vocalist and his bandmates are the lone hair-metalists to sell out arenas a generation after initially hitting the charts. Bon Jovi, the band, has sold more than 100 million albums and shows no signs of slowing down as it’s touring behind its 13th album, “This House Is Not For Sale.”
When Bon Jovi is putting together its setlist, there are more than 100 songs to consider.
“You love to play the new songs and the old ones,” says keyboardist David Bryan, one of the founding members, while calling from Los Angeles. “That’s what keeps it fresh. We have so many to choose from, and we change up the set every night and swap out a couple of songs. You always got to play the ones that we have to.”
So expect a healthy dose of hits: “You Give Love a Bad Name,” “It’s My Life” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Bon Jovi has always been about giving the fans what they want.
Those familiar tunes are part of the reason that Bon Jovi was inducted April 14 into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
“It’s a wonderful club to be in,” Bryan says. “From Elvis to the Beatles to the Stones … it’s a great honor.”
Bon Jovi still headlines arenas because they’ve been able to evolve. Many of the recording artists who came of age with Bon Jovi during the ‘80s still look and sound like hair metal acts. But when Bon Jovi saw a revival in 2000 with “It’s My Life,” it came because the band embraced the contemporary.
The band, which also includes drummer Tico Torres, bassist Hugh McDonald and guitarist Phil X, reinvented itself again in 2005 by crafting “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” (featuring Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles), which landed on the country charts.
“The hardest thing is to stay number one and remain current,” Bryan says. “You have to evolve and take some chances.”
Original member Richie Sambora left the band in 2013.
Bon Jovi, who will perform April 24 at the PNC Arena, has a wide cross section of fans. During its New Jersey show, the audience spanned from baby boomers to teens.
“We’ve been very fortunate when it comes to fan support,” Bryan says. “There are fans our age, who have turned their kids on to us and now the kids are fans. Seeing the young fans out there takes me back to our early days.”
Bon Jovi went back to basics and wrote and recorded “This House Is Not For Sale” in the same manner as its earliest albums.
“We got into a room and really bashed this one out together,” Bryan says. “We haven’t done that in awhile. It’s just a different method. With this one, it was like, can we just go live? It was like let’s get in the room and really create something. For the second leg of this tour we added two new songs. ‘When We Were Us’ is for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It’s about where we’re at and where we’re going. We’re having fun making music.”
The same goes for the act’s live show. The band members clearly are having a good time.
“We’re friends,” Bryan says. “I think that’s obvious. It’s a good time when we perform and it’s only been getting better, which is amazing. We have a ritual once everybody’s dressed. We put our hands in right before we go onstage and we all look at each other and say, ‘lets get out there and have some fun and kick some ass’ and then we go out there and do it.”
Did you know?
- The band often has a local band open their shows. “We were in that position at one time,” drummer Tico Torres says. “I remember distinctly playing the (Madison Square) Garden for 20 minutes with (opening for) ZZ Top. We took the (commuter) train in. There’s nothing better than seeing these young musicians get their shot.” Raleigh’s opening act is IAMDYNAMITE, a Raleigh-based duo.
- Tico Torres once designed fashionable baby gear dubbed “Rock Star Baby,” which featured leather pants and a vest.
- Bon Jovi doesn’t quit. When the power went out at a concert, the band grabbed their acoustic gear and played as loud as possible until the power came back on.
- Unlike many bands inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Bon Jovi welcome back former members Richie Sambora and Alec John Such for the ceremony. “They were part of that journey with us,” Torres says. “So they should be there.”
- The original cover art for the “Slippery When Wet” album was nixed. “It was too racy for America,” Torres said. “It was only in Japan. It was last minute. We got a garbage bag at the last minute, wet it and put the Slippery When Wet sign on it.”
When: 7:30 p.m. April 24
Where: PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh
Tickets: $25.50, $65.50, $100.50 and $150.50
Info: 919-861-2300 or thepncarena.com