Earlier this week the mighty Bon Jovi added a further two dates to their massive summer 2010 o2 Arena residency.
And while Jon and the boys may no longer be genuine rock heroes – preferring to ‘pop out’ many years ago – it’s exciting to think a real band with real musicians can still be such a huge draw. Of course businessman Bon Jovi knows his demographic well and if the New Jersey natives can’t sell out night after night at the biggest indoor venue of its kind now, then when?
Right now the average age of a Bon Jovi fan is anywhere between 35 and 45. He or she is probably earning a decent wage, may be a parent who doesn’t get out to gigs too much these days and, dare I say it, fast approaching a mid-life crisis.
Enter the eternally youthful JBJ and his craggier yet endearing sidekick Richie Sambora on a mission to roll back the years and help middle-aged men and women everywhere rediscover their hair metal youth.
As if to acknowledge the fact that this is a band which knows its market better than most, Richie let slip that plans are afoot to play Slippery When Wet in its entirety during the o2 run.
A move guaranteed to grab the attention of the aforementioned core audience – but just as likely to satisfy the appetite of a new generation of Jovi fans – it’s an admission that this particular business is best trading on past reputation.
But it’s also the shrewdest of moves by a band determined to cater to the market with the most disposable income and the group of fans most likely to blow their hard-earned cash on sackfuls of merchandise and the inevitable live set memory sticks.
What it is not is rock and roll. But just as Jon moved his band into the mainstream many years ago – turning his back on the genre which made Bon Jovi so big in the first place – he has long since recognised that longevity in the music business equates to good business sense within the world of music.
His latter day albums may be sapped of Slippery When Wet’s raw passion, overblown riffs (although Richie still keeps the hair metal flag flying) and relentless choruses but the man’s a money making machine.
It’s the Kiss way only with regular records as an added bonus. It’s the way Bon Jovi have stayed at the top of their game so long. And it’s the way they’ve found themselves headlining the most talked about music venue in London for night after night after night. Way to go, Jon.