Preview

Concert preview: Bon Jovi 'not just resting on yesterday'

Fresno BeeNovember 4, 2013 

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Bon Jovi, filling arenas for more than 25 years, plays PNC Arena in Raleigh on Wednesday.

COURTESY OF DAVID BERGMAN — BONJOVI.COM/PRINTS

  • Details

    Who: Bon Jovi

    When: 7:30 Wednesday

    Where: PNC Arena, 1400 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh

    Cost: $29.50-$169.50

    Info: 919-861-2300 or thepncarena.com

— – Who knew way back in the, ahem, Dark Ages – when women with teased hair and guys with mullets were thrilling to the beat of “Livin’ on a Prayer” – that more than 25 years later the rock group Bon Jovi would still be filling arenas around the world?

To be fair, probably no one. Not even the band members.

Thinking in terms of decades isn’t exactly on the agenda of hot-to-trot rockers.

“The hardest thing in the world when you’re young is to get a record deal,” says keyboardist David Bryan. “That’s all you’re thinking about. Then the hardest thing is to make a No. 1 record. And then you realize the hardest thing in the world is to stay No. 1.”

Part of the secret to Bon Jovi’s longevity, Bryan says, is to keep pounding out albums that speak to fans.

“We always give the obvious classics that people want to hear,” he says. “But we’re a band that thrives on new material as well as old. For us, it’s not just resting on yesterday.”

The band’s “Because We Can” tour kicked off in February. By tour’s end, the band will have performed throughout the Americas, Europe, the Far East, Africa and Australia. The show’s set has 90 high-speed moving elements and is described as “a kinetic sculpture of light and video.”

For Bryan, the financial security of being in one of the world’s most successful rock bands has allowed him to pursue a significant side career in Broadway musicals. He wrote the music and lyrics for the Tony Award-winning “Memphis.”

The Juilliard-trained Bryan spoke from Vancouver, where the tour’s fall leg started. He only had a few minutes on the phone to discuss Bon Jovi’s tour. But he hit some high points, including:

• Jon Bon Jovi comes up with the set list, but it’s always just a suggestion. At any time, Bryan says, the lead singer can throw in a substitution. The group has about 80 songs, old and new, that it’s prepared to sing. “That’s about all my brain can handle.”

• One reason for Bon Jovi’s enduring success is that it’s appealing to another generation, Bryan says. “That’s the wonderful part about it. When you look out at a show, you see a lot of young fans.”

• Personnel updates: The band’s drummer, Tico Torres, who in September had an emergency appendectomy while on tour in Mexico City (followed a week later by gall bladder surgery), rejoined the tour Oct. 8 in Fresno.

As for the band’s celebrated lead guitarist, Richie Sambora, who has not performed with the group since spring – his absence has been the subject of a large number of rumors over the summer: “That situation remains unchanged,” Bryan says drily.

Still, Bryan says fans can expect a true Bon Jovi experience.

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