Bon Jovi has been treading the boards for nearly a quarter of a century, and they’re not about to change a successful formula. Like their recent album, “Have a Nice Day” (Island), the tour that sold out Staples Center doesn’t stray too far from the friendly, arena-rock template they introduced with 1982’s “Runaway.” But the strain is beginning to take its toll.
While Jon Bon Jovi still wants to be a regular guy with a genuine connection to his aud, there’s a distinct sense he’s getting bored. He starts the show from an auxiliary stage in the back of the room so the fans in the cheap seats get some face time, then wades through the crowd to the stage. He then performs from a perch on one of the arena’s walkways and then heads over to two corrals of fans who get up close and personal with the band for a few songs before they are herded out and replaced.
He welcomes the crowd with a hoary comment about L.A. traffic. A reminiscence about the band’s history in Los Angeles never gets any more specific than “lots of memories,” and he mangles an attempt at Springsteen-esque self-mythologizing by rushing the intro and stumbling over the punchline.
He’s been outsourcing the songwriting for years (a practice that reaches its nadir with the Max Martin-penned “Complicated,” a piece of teen pop hackwork); perhaps it’s time to bring in an outsider to script the patter.
To keep themselves interested, the band subtly rejiggered a few arrangements. Nothing too wild, mind you: A couple of vocal lines fall on different beats; an extra falsetto harmony is laid on top of the chorus of “You Give Love a Bad Name”; a jazzy piano line floats above “Who Says You Can’t Go Home”; and “Blaze of Glory” is preceded a Middle Eastern-sounding interlude showcasing Tico Torres’ drumming, swirling synthesized strings and a harmonium.