Sat, Dec 07, 19
POLLSTAR By Deborah Speer -
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Photo by David Bergman
A small boat, even a Thames Clipper, chugging up the River Thames in London isn’t unusual enough to draw large crowds to the docks on any given day but, on June 24, 2007, such a boat pulled up to a jetty adjacent to the barely-completed O2 arena and unloaded passengers from New Jersey who had the entire city’s attention.
Bon Jovi made a splashing entrance at The O2 that day, and provided the electricity for the sellout crowd as the new arena opened its doors for the first time, selling 17,200 tickets for a gross of £1.3 million ($2.4 million) with ticket prices ranging from £50-£100. Three years later almost to the day, on June 10, 2010, Bon Jovi returned to launch a 12-night, sold-out residency with an outdoor concert from the rooftop of the O2’s now-iconic dome.
This time, the 21,000-capacity O2 was not only the biggest-selling arena in the world but Bon Jovi was the biggest-selling band of the calendar year, ending with 1.9 million tickets sold. The residency surely helped secure that lofty position with more than 187,000 fans ponying up £12.6 million ($18.3 million). Worth noting: the lowest-priced ticket was actually half that of the show three years prior at £25.
The story of Bon Jovi and The O2 can be considered a case study of the band and its charismatic leader, Jon Bon Jovi. He may be better known for his 1,000-watt smile and addictive rock anthems than for his business acumen, but the savvy of Bon Jovi’s “CEO” is borne out by the longevity of his band’s continued massive successes.
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images Up On The Roof: Jon Bon Jovi, still in safety harness, on the roof of The O2 arena in London to perform an outdoor show and kick off a 12-night residency at the world’s biggest selling venue. By the end of the calendar year, Bon Jovi would be the world’s biggest-selling band.
“Well, if you consider numbers, we’re as big or bigger than ever. You see how they come back again and trust in the change in lineup and the musical direction in as much as I’m not trying to rewrite ‘You Give Love a Bad Name,’” says Bon Jovi, discussing the runaway success of his latest “This House Is Not For Sale” tour which wrapped in October. “I think that speaks to me as the leader and primary songwriter, that they trust me as an audience.
"And that’s a leap of faith for them to take, because they bought into a certain thing that they may have grown up in or grown up with. They have to then trust me, and if it wasn’t worth their time and money, they would move on and keep the memories wherever music fans store them.”
That trust is something Bon Jovi has engendered for many decades. Rob Hallett, who was promoting Bon Jovi along with many other European tours for AEG Live (now AEG Presents) at the time and now works for Live Nation Touring, considers the O2 concerts pivotal and metaphorical as both the venue and band were starting the decade at the top of their respective games, and have only become bigger.
“The Bon Jovi single at the time was ‘(You Want To) Make A Memory’ and the whole thing was to make a memory opening the O2,” Hallett tells Pollstar. “They came up the river in a boat and landed at a jetty, walked into the O2 and that gig is how it all started. Jon came back three years later because he loved the venue and did the 12 nights, which we launched with the stunt on top of the roof. One of the world’s most iconic artists on the roof of the world’s most iconic buildings.”
There’s more to unpack from this tale of two tour stops than meets the eye. If anything, Bon Jovi is more successful almost a decade after his O2 residency than ever. He had his single highest-grossing night just last December, grossing $9.1 million at Melbourne, Australia’s Cricket Grounds, in front of more than 60,000 fans.
One can count on one hand the number of rock bands that broke out in the 1980s that are not only still successfully touring today, but doing so with fresh, new music that retains the authenticity that is at the heart of the best in rock ‘n’ roll.
Bon Jovi is one of them, having just wrapped up its “This House Is Not For Sale Tour” and ending the decade at No. 5 on Pollstar’s Top Touring Artists of the Decade chart with more than 8.78 million tickets sold and $868,715,392 grossed over five tours in 10 years.
With a current lineup of Jon, Tico Torres, John Shanks, Everett Bradley, Phil X, Hugh McDonald and David Bryan, Bon Jovi survived the 2013 departure of former guitar slinger Richie Sambora. Other changes were made around the middle of the decade, too, which is all part of the band’s evolution.
“This isn’t a band that is dependent on the guitar player like Van Halen or U2 or something, it was about the songs and it was about me,” Jon Bon Jovi tells Pollstar of its current incarnation and the departure of Sambora. “We got it. I wish he was here, too, because we were a formidable duo. Our voices were the magic and he’s a great guy and all that kind of stuff, but his choices have led him astray.”
But Jon Bon Jovi is not one to let anything get in the way of his band. Until recently, he was more or less self-managing, overseeing production costs and ticket prices to make sure he was properly monetizing his band’s business but also looking out for fans.
In recent years, he’s added Full Stop Management and co-founder of Oak View Group (Pollstar parent company) Irving Azoff to his team. “The difference is having been lucky enough to get Irving Azoff to say to me, ‘I’ve got one more in me,’” Bon Jovi tells Pollstar. “Having him as my manager has been one of the great blessings of my career. Knowing that he’s looking out for all of his artists at all times, knowing that he’s personally managing my life, has been a great blessing,” Bon Jovi says.
His latest “This House Is Not For Sale Tour,” which wrapped in October, is the band’s first promoted by Live Nation. And he test drove a new tour strategy that spread 100 shows over three years instead of into one. He wrote and recorded a new album, 2020, which doesn’t yet have a release date. A tour, quarterbacked by Live Nation’s Bob Roux domestically and Denis Desmond in the UK and Europe, is expected to be announced...
Read the rest of the article on Pollstar.com