Bon Jovi fans are notorious for flinging their underwear onstage and screaming like junior high girls. But enough about Judge Bryan Pope.
We'll be banging and singing just like the Rolling Stones.
It's Saturday night and I have five buddies of mine and a cooler of beer at my house for a card game. With nothing worth tuning into on television, I figure now's as good a time as any to take Bon Jovi's latest concert DVD for a test drive. We're all 30-something guys who grew up with the band. Hell, I was in the seventh grade when their first album came out, and I've been with them ever since. I can't think of a better DVD to provide a little background noise.
Two hours and four Coronas later, the verdict is so obvious: This sucker rocks.
Now, Lost Highway, the group's chart-topping tenth studio album, will never top my list of favorite Bon Jovi albums. It's too…well, country for my taste. But it still plays to Bon Jovi's strengths and is a thoughtful, subdued work from a band that has made a living out of churning out raise-the-roof rock anthems. This concert covers every track: "Lost Highway," "Summertime," "(You Want to) Make a Memory," "Whole Lot of Leavin'," "We Got it Going On," "Any Other Day," "Seat Next to You," "Everybody's Broken," "Till We Ain't Strangers Anymore," "The Last Night," "One Step Closer" and "I Love This Town."
As a bonus, the band serves up three encores: "It's My Life" (from 1999, but a welcome throwback to their classic stuff), "Wanted Dead or Alive" and the catchy-but-pedestrian crowd-pleaser "Who Says You Can't Go Home."
Backed by a handful of additional musicians, the crew puts on an excellent show, and it makes for an entertaining DVD with tons of replay value. Richie Sambora is amazing doing double-duty on guitar and talk box. David Bryan and Tico Torres provide reliable, strong support on the keyboard and drums. And then there's the lead vocalist himself. Few '80s-era rockers have settled into middle age as gracefully as Jon has. He's still in fine voice. He's also congenial and mellow, especially when he sets the guitar aside and gets down to the business of telling stories.
Director Joe Thomas preserves the concert's energy in a setting that is more intimate than the band's usual venues. This presentation vibrates with the electricity of a live performance. I could have done with fewer swooping camera shots and angle changes, but mostly Thomas let's Bon Jovi do its thing with minimal intrusion. You'll be on your feet pumping your fist by the time the guys take their final bow.
My hat's off to A&E for providing a top-notch Dolby 5.1 listening experience. I cranked this puppy up and sat back while it took over my living room for the next 90 minutes, using every speaker in my system to maximum effect. The sound is bold, robust and crystal clear. Torres' percussion work, especially, gives the front speakers a good workout. Appropriately, the surrounds are reserved mostly for crowd chatter, enhancing the disc's "you are there" quality. The video quality is fantastic, but, as far as I'm concerned, a concert DVD is all about the sound.
The package contains sketches of the coolly understated set design and interviews with all four band members, each lasting only several minutes.
You may not get much in the way of bonus materials, but a pleasingly solid audio and video presentation make Lost Highway: The Concert a soaring tribute to one of the most iconic and enduring musical acts to come out of the '80s. This package is well worth the purchase. Not guilty.
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