Hair Metal Happy Hour




You know what your summer has been lacking? Some hair metal! I’m a little bummed I’m missing the shit show that is sure to be the Motley Crue/Poison/New York Dolls tour, but, luckily, I’ve got another gem of concert. Continuing with my summer of nostalgic shame, I recently saw Bon Jovi in Istanbul. Yep, Bon Jovi. First Slipknot, and now Jersey’s finest. God, throw in some KMFDM or the Mortal Kombat soundtrack and we’ll complete the trifecta of my youthful metal faux pas: nu-industrial-hair. Doesn’t that sound like a terrible, terrible fashion subculture? I’m sure it already exists in Japan.

Anyways, I’ve been in and out of love with Bon Jovi for as long as I can remember. The past few years I’ve unfortunately let my love turn into hate (whooaa-hooo [I didn’t] keep the faith), but I think this show has pushed me back into neutral territory, bordering on affection. Apparently, I just can’t quit the on-going story of Tommy and Gina.

Now, a lot of you might consider attending a Bon Jovi concert lame. I’m not here to dissuade you. But I do think that I ventured so totally into lameness at this show that at one point it became ironic and, thus, really cool. Maybe. I don’t know how these things work.

First up, I went with my parents. Secondly, my entire extended family came as well. The last time that happened was… um, a Bon Jovi show eighteen years ago. Seriously. I was really young and it was on my exact birthday and I was bored out of my skull because I had no idea who those wishy-washy pretty boys were. Thirdly, well, we’re at Bon Jovi aren’t we? And it’s not the first time!

Allow me to take you on a saga of family and music.  The randomly thrown in quotations are directly from my brilliant relatives.

There were  supposed to be two opening bands, but the first one cancelled and we weren’t exactly wetting ourselves over the second (local band named redd; pleasant enough poppy rock). So we decided we’d meet up somewhere close to the venue and then drive there before the 8:30 pm show. On the way, I’m pretty sure we saw the band landing. We figured out what hotel they were staying at, since there aren’t that many local options, and adding in the fact that said hotel had the grounds for helicopters to land and take off, the lone helicopter circling and landing down at the arena had to be them. Later, they tweeted themselves in front of the stadium next to a helicopter. Don’t ever let anyone tell you women make bad stalkers.

“I hope they don’t play any new stuff.”

“What new stuff? They haven’t had anything out since like 1994.”

“Uh, they’ve had like six albums since.”

We got to our seats around 8ish and promptly at the 8:45, they came out with a rousing version of “Raise Your Hands.” They quickly followed it with “You Give Love A Bad Name,” a song my sister knew all the words to before she could even speak English. (Yep, we had our priorities straight in my family.) It was kind of awesome to see everyone screaming along and pumping their fists at the same time, though. I don’t think I’ve been in that big of an arena, crammed with so many hysterically happy people. I guess everyone missed Bon Jovi, and Jon noted as much during the witty banter sections of the evening.

“Why does he sound like southern Christian Slater? Is that his real accent?”

“I don’t know. What do people from New Jersey sound like?”

As the evening went on, Jon’s voice got twangier and twangier, and I don’t believe I’m exaggerating when I say he was occasionally incomprehensible. Richie mostly ignored him ,until they had to do the obligatory lead singer/guitarist sharing-a-microphone-and-crooning-at-each-other thing that all the big bands seem to do.

“They’re so gonna make out.”

“No they’re not, don’t say that!”

Tico is still the coolest guy in the band, and David Bryan, well, he’s stuck playing the keyboards, but at least he still has a head of impressive hair. And wonder of wonders, they actually acknowledged Hugh McDonald. He’s been their bassist for the past twenty years, so I think it’s about time that he gets his due respect.

They sang all the songs everyone wanted and for almost three hours. I knew my old favorites (“Fear,” “I Believe,” anything from These Days) would not be included, as they are considered to be throwaway tracks for most fans. But I really, really wanted at least one song from These Days. It’s the “dark” album and one everyone seems to forget about even though it’s my favorite. Well, I got my one song. “Diamond Ring,” the only one I truly don’t like. Oh well, should’ve been clearer on my silent requests.

There were maybe a couple new songs, too, which I’d never heard before. Nor do I remember their names. It didn’t really matter, though, because they were Bon Jovi songs. 91.5% chance they’d have a “Whoooa,” in there somewhere, 94.8% chance they’d rhyme the phrases “all night” and “all right,” and 99.8%chance Jon would sing it first, then make the audience sing it back to him over and over until you just want it to end.

Wait! “Have a Nice Day!” That’s a newer one that I know they performed. Sidenote: I definitely saw a woman with the square smiley face logo of that album, along with the words “Bon Jovie,” tattooed on her breast.

“Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night,” was a nice surprise. It’s a nice, mellow song I always enjoyed, but I never thought it’d be performed live, so I was pretty pleased to hear it. As well as:

“Is this ‘Start Me Up?’ They wrote ‘Start Me Up?’”

“No that’s The Rolling Stones. See? He just said he’s doing his Mick Jagger swagger.”

“…No, I think he’s just trying to dance.”

Not to mention  “Sleep When I’m Dead” and “Bad Medicine.” I kept getting flashbacks to my childhood with those two; screaming the former at my mom when it was bedtime, or mumbling the latter when I had a fever.

Unfortunately, Jon’s voice is not what it used to be. All their fast songs had to be noticeably cooled down, because he just couldn’t hit the high notes or keep up. He should’ve employed the Bruce Dickinson method of giving his genitals a nice hard yank. There were a lot of slow song breaks too, probably so he could catch his breath. But don’t worry, for the so-high-only-dogs-can-hear-it scream in “I’ll be There For You,” my cousin and I more than made up for him. It was nice of everyone around us to go super quiet right before and then turn to stare at us”

“Oh my god stop screaming in my ear, you are completely tone deaf.”

And Richie pitched in for the rest. The encores included “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and of course, the song that started it all, “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Eighteen years ago, when I first saw these gentlemen, that was the only song I knew, and it was all because of my older cousin. I was at that impressionable age where everything she did and liked was extraordinarily cool so of course I had to copy her. We had fun during that song.

“Aren’t they going to play ‘Like A Prayer?’”

“No, I don’t think so”

“But whyyyy?”

“Because that’s a Madonna song.”

The only thing I clearly remember from that first show was Jon coming out with the national flag draped across his shoulders. This time he wore the national soccer uniform. Which everyone appreciated, until that sticky moment at the end of the show. Amidst the piercing cheering and whistling, some genius thought to throw a Galatasaray flag onstage. Galatasaray is one of the three soccer teams that divide us. Their rivalry with Fenerbahce is akin to the Red Sox/Yankees feud, even though they all play for the same city. No one except my dad cares about the third team. The concert was technically at the Galatasaray home stadium, but when Jon picked up that banner, yikes! Never has an audience turned so violently. He dropped that sucker like it was on fire. Good. We are Fenerbace people (well, for the most part) in my family. We won the national championship this year! And just recently more than half the team and owners got arrested for rigging the games! Hooray for us.

Anyway, of course Mr. Bongiovi had to make up for that reaction. And so the band went into a soulful rendition of “Always,” and ended the night on a high, yet decidedly sedate, note.

I can’t express how much love I have for this audience. What a change! No trashy, drunk forty-something women in horribly unflattering tight clothes with their meathead husbands. No getting smacked in the face with someone’s ripe b.o. Just good, calm rock ‘n’ roll. They really are the boys you bring home to ma and pa. Or vice versa. Though another cousin did have something to complain about as 15-year-old boys often do

“Why in goddamn hell fuck didn’t they play ‘Runaway?’”

To complete this epic evening, I was home and tucked in bed before midnight. Not because I drank too much or anything “cool” like that. I was just really tired. I definitely do not need seven days of Saturdays.  Thanks guys, see you in another eighteen years.



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