Bon Jovi is an enduring force
Jon Bon Jovi faces the biggest challenge of his career as his band’s latest arena tour gets underway. Bon Jovi experienced a disruption when guitarist Richie Sambora left mid-tour in 2013, but carried on with guitarist Phil X for the remaining dates. A rarities album and Jon Bon Jovi’s ill-fated bid to buy the Buffalo Bills followed, but by early 2016 the band was back in the studio and the first Sambora-less album, This House Is Not for Sale, was released in November, debuting atop the charts. It was a victory, but the band is in the midst of its true test—a 30-date tour scheduled through April.
The cover for This House—a five-window home set atop a tree-truck foundation—symbolizes Jon Bon Jovi’s current outlook. “It’s a record about our integrity,” says the frontman about This House, in track commentary video posted to the band’s YouTube channel. “My integrity. As a lyric (from the title track) says, ‘These four walls have got a story to tell,’ each one of them representing members of the band.” That band still includes original members Dave Bryan on keyboards and drummer Tico Torres, but longtime bassist Hugh McDonald and guitarist Phil X are now considered official members. Bon Jovi—the man and the band—intends to march on as long as those arena seats are filled.
That march started with one ambitious New Jersey kid named John Bongiovi, who worked in his cousin’s recording studio while waiting for opportunities. He had already played in bands with Bryan by the time the single “Runaway” became a radio hit in 1983, and recruited Torres and bassist Alec John Such for the rhythm section. Future Skid Row guitarist Dave Sabo joined briefly before being replaced by Sambora, who formed a songwriting partnership with Jon Bon Jovi that would create the most enduring glam-metal/hard rock anthems of the 1980s.
As Sambora explored new musical directions with guitarist and romantic partner Orianthi Panagaris, Bon Jovi wrapped its last tour in October 2015 with a concert in Tel Aviv and would not make a return to an arena stage until the band’s show at Minneapolis’ Target Center in September. A promotional tour in which Bon Jovi played all of the material from the new album kicked off in October. The full-on This House Is Not For Sale Tour kicked off in Greenville, S.C., with producer John Shanks (who played most of the guitar on the newest album) on board as rhythm guitarist.
While This House fell in the charts after its No. 1 debut, the tour will maximize its long-term chart potential. The album’s performance and live demand will determine how much the tour is extended, although the days of the musicians being away from home for more than a year are over. Whether there’s a place for Sambora to return in the future remains to be seen, but neither he nor Jon Bon Jovi will close the door on that possibility. Meanwhile, Bon Jovi the band rides on, fueled by its deeply rooted arena-rock convictions and providing the anthems first-pumping fans can’t get enough of.
T-Mobile Arena, 8 p.m. Feb. 25, starting at $37.25 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849