Bon Jovi Live: This Left Feels Right (Limited Edition) Review
Let's get this out of the way, I'm not a fan of the 'new' Bon Jovi. Their transformation over the past ten years from a popular soft rock group to a supermodel dating, ageing boy band outfit who no longer look out of place standing next to the likes of Cat Deeley on CD:UK is actually not that far off several other so called rock groups of the eighties and numerous ones that have popped up since. Does that make them sell outs or have they simply matured? Who knows, probably, but then I tend not to factor in a groups appearance or general activities over the years into my decision to listen to them (or not in this case) so would rather not get into that here. I will say that, for better or worse, in my childhood I was a fan of the Bon Jovi of the eighties and even owned all of their albums on tape. Since then my taste in music has progressed and I no longer have a spot for them in my collection let alone listen to them (nor have I since These Days) but it has to be said that seeing John Candy as Barf engrossed in Raise Your Hands in the Mel Brooks movie Spaceballs still brings a smile to my face for both comedic and nostalgic value.
So, what I am trying to say is that I am not a fan but am assuming the majority of those reading this review are and therefore I am going to keep this almost strictly content based. What we have on this DVD is a full concert (108 minutes) recorded live at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City on November 14 and 15, 2003. In terms of monetary value this is everything you would expect, a lengthy running time with tracks taken from their most popular albums ranging from Slippery When Wet to Bounce while two brand new efforts (Last Man Standing and Thief Of Hearts) and a cover (Sylvia's Mother) are also featured. Most importantly I feel for a live concert is the performances offer something unique over the studio efforts and by making this concert in the 'Unplugged' style Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora, Tico Torres, David Bryan and their support musicians do just that by bringing us unplugged acoustic versions of their work.
As to how successful this decision was really will depend on the viewer and what they are looking for. Most of the track choices seem well suited, even early material such as Blood on Blood and Bed of Roses work well but then I found the unplugged versions of other early tracks such as Livin' On A Prayer, You Give Love A Bad Name and Bad Medicine almost insulting as any sign of that eighties energy has been washed away in favour of something that will play well to the market they seem to target with their most recent efforts. The audience is actually the best way to describe who this music is best suited to as their once young, long haired stereotypical rocker audience has in one sense disappeared and been replaced by screaming women, but those who did stick with the band over the years seem to have changed alongside them. As such they now they have their husbands and wives in tow and are happy to stand in front of the group, holding each other as they rock slowly back and forth in each others arms listening to the ballads that Bon Jovi are now best known for.
Tracklist: Love For Sale, You Give Love A Bad Name, Wanted Dead Or Alive, Livin' On A Prayer, It's My Life, Misunderstood, Lay Your Hands On Me, Someday I'll Be Saturday Night, Last Man Standing, Sylvia's Mother, Everyday, Bad Medicine, Bed Of Roses, Born To Be My Baby, Keep The Faith, Joey, Thief Of Hearts, I'll Be There For You, Always, Blood On Blood.
Recorded in High Definition Video the main concert is presented on DVD in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen and the resulting effort is quite superb with high levels of detail, warm colour reproduction and great contrast while compression artefacts are kept to an absolute bare minimum. In terms of audio you will find both 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo mixes. Starting out with the Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo mix this is one of the best I have heard in some time with absolutely no need to crank up the volume to achieve the desired effect as the levels are superbly balanced and much higher than usual (which is a good thing!). The 5.1 Surround mixes essentially boost the ambient sounds achieving a greater sense of “being there” with the enhanced crowd elements doing much of the work. This mix is present in both Dolby Digital 5.1 and full rate DTS with the latter benefiting from the increased bitrate though both will make great use of your setup.
Disc one extras comprise of Everyday With Bon Jovi and Off The Record, both of which are aimed at the more hardcore fans and prove to be of a greater quality and are therefore far more interesting than your standard DVD extras. The former is a 30-minute behind the scenes look at the work required to set up the stage for the concert with technicians going about their work while the band play cards and iron out the set list and new format of their old tracks. The latter is 4 short 'outtakes' from the concert which see the band addressing the crowd with some stand up comedy and stories from their travels. To keep with the family friendly nature of the group the technicians and bands profanities during these features are covered up by a dogs bark or a guitar chord sound effect.
For the Limited Edition version of this DVD you will find a bonus second disc that offers a range of extra features that should please the fans. Clip Poker is an interactive game where you get to sit down for a game of cards with the band members and should you win are presented with a screen that allows you to choose from six recordings of the band in action at a concert in London's Hyde Park. You can only listen to one of these tracks after winning a hand, which is quite easy though should you find it difficult then you will be pleased to know each track is selectable via the Video Jukebox section of the disc. These tracks total around 35-minutes: Raise Your Hands; Blood on Blood; Captain Crash; Lay Your Hands On Me; Everyday; Bounce.
A Q&A with Bon Jovi strengthens the opinion that the band love to play cards as we see them interviewed while enjoying a game of Poker. Running for 14-minutes they discuss the This Left Feels Right project, the origins of the 'Unplugged' term and their feelings on the resulting material they produced. Despite them appearing to be a little bored with the interview they offer some interesting nuggets of information that once again should please the fans who will purchase the Limited Edition release.
The remaining extras consist of a fairly self explanatory Photo Gallery and the far more interesting Director's View section that allows you to choose from three tracks (Love For Sale, I'll Be There For You, Lay Your Hands) and view them as the director of the video would, with all 9 monitors on screen at once. Sadly this means each monitor screen is rather small and makes you wonder why they didn't make use of the multi-angle ability DVD players have but never-the-less, budding directors may find this of interest.
With the exception of the Director's View (which is 4:3) all bonus features across both discs are presented in Anamorphic Widescreen with Stereo sound and optional subtitles are provided in English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese (this does not extend to the song lyrics).
The 6/10 rating for both 'film' and 'overall' reflects the fact that I am not particularly enamoured by the music that Bon Jovi produce but was surprised to find that I enjoyed revisiting several of the reworked eighties tracks while I also found myself impressed by the overall content of this two-disc set which offers everything fans of the group should find themselves wanting. Therefore if you are a fan, add another two or three points to these ratings and consider this a recommendation.