If you’ve been reading since before March’s Mix CD Monthly, you’ll know that that disc was filled with Bon Jovi as I was really enjoying the band. But shortly after, I went totally cold on the band for a long time. So what happened? Well the short answer is I bought this. The long answer is below.
The DVD certainly gives you a lot of Bon for your buck. You get 17 Bon Jovi songs in both music video form and live form. I bought this entirely for the live stuff back in…would have probably been late 2016 or early 2017. I don’t care for the fake live music videos. I never watched them before this and never will again. They’re functional music videos, but they don’t fill any need of mine. In they end they simply serve as a stark reminder that we’ll never get to hear anything like them on the live stage.
So it was the live stuff than that was where the meat of it was for me, and unfortunately (Jon) Bon Jovi is not very good live. We’ll get into that now, but given that the live tracks are sourced from a variety of time periods, we’ll be going for a more regimented approach to it.
“Living on a Prayer”- Live at Madison Square Garden (2008)
Things get off to a bad start. The acapella intro only highlights the thinness of Jon’s voice. The crowd sounds good though. I’ll admit I’m a little harsh on Jon. His voice is fairly serviceable most of the time (more so in the older footage), it’s just that this underwhelming performance is not what I’d expect from the lead singer of a rock band, let alone desire.
“You Give Love a Bad Name”- Live From London (1995)
The earliest footage on the disc, Jon’s voice is decent. Still thin and not a match for the studio Jon, but sounding less like it’s going to crack whenever it requires an iota of an increase in volume. The funny thing is that my favorite thing about the disc is actually how cool Richie Sambora looks with his long, black coat and dark sunglasses.
“In These Arms”- Live at Madison Square Garden (2008)
I’m a little sad to see that they hadn’t made the switch to David Bryan on lead vocals yet. Jon’s half decent here, but the problem is that the rest of the band are V8s firing on all cylinders while Jon’s a mere four cylinder. It creates a rather lopsided affair. Although it’s true that I wasn’t not enjoying myself.
“Bad Medicine”- Live From London (1995)
London again, so it’s pretty good.
“Born To Be My Baby”- This Left Feels Right Live (2003)
Stupid acoustic version from stupid acoustic show.
“I’ll Be There For You”- The Crush Tour (2000)
The song’s not much, so this rendition isn’t much either.
“Lay Your Hands on Me”- This Left Feels Right Live (2003)
It’s the stupid acoustic show, and there’s not a single part of the song that sounds remotely better than the studio version
“It’s My Life”- Live at Madison Square Garden (2008)
See previous comments about aging Jon.
“Always”- Live at Madison Square Garden (2008)
It’s alright for the most part. It’s a shame that most of the stuff on this disc comes from this show.
“Wanted Dead or Alive”- Lost Highway: The Concert (Stripped) (2007)
I never cared for the studio version much, but this one (at least in the instruments) sounds so much more alive. The strings are a neat touch and Jon’s vocals are are decent too, given the non-straining nature of the song. And at least when he’s playing guitar he’s actually contributing something good to the sound of the song.
“Bed of Roses”- This Left Feels Right Live (2003)
Acoustic again, though this time the least egregious of the bunch. The chorus is a little lacking in power as you’d expect, but things aren’t too bad in the end, an apt description for this whole disc as well.
“Who Says You Can’t Go Home”- Lost Highway: The Concert (2007)
You know, this one’s actually really quite good. John sounds pretty darn good here too. One of my favorite renditions on the disc for sure.
“Have a Nice Day”- Live at Madison Square Garden (2008)
Holy crap! What’s this? Jon’s almost singing at album level quality here. This disc actually gets pretty good, but I’d never know it because I’d never made it this far before. The keyboards are a nice touch too.
“We Weren’t Born to Follow”- London 02 Arena Rooftop (2009?)
I’m not sure I follow the logic of filming a show on the roof of an arena, especially if it’s not for a music video, but it’s a good rendition nevertheless.
“What Do You Got”- Live in Peru (2010?)
The song’s not much. It’s alright, but it slows the good momentum we had over the last couple of songs.
“Keep the Faith”- Live From London (1995)
This one’s pretty darn good too, as you’d expect with the London footage being the oldest. Sambora’s soloing is excellent here, and Jon actually musters up some consistent power for the chorus too. It was to the point that the song ended and I wanted more. Who’d have thunk it?
“Blaze of Glory”- Live at Madison Square Garden (2008)
Of course, we couldn’t end on a literal (and figurative) high note, and so we’re back to Madison Square Garden. But this time it’s not too bad. Still not the way I’d choose to end the disc though. Hardly what I’d call a blaze of glory.
I think it’s fair to say that my first impressions of this disc have carried through longer than they should have. There’s no doubt that the songs are enjoyable to listen to, it’s just that I feel dirty listening to the studio versions knowing that they’ll never be done their justice on the live stage. Still, there’s a big difference between a truly bad performance and a merely underwhelming one, and these are not bad performances.
The verdict- 3.25/5 stars.