Ahem, allow me to explain. These shoes — the ones I’m wearing — just got a backstage tour of the Bon Jovi stage at the Xcel Energy Center.
These shoes walked on the stage where Bon Jovi performs. They skipped up the stairs that Bon Jovi uses to access the stage. They walked by Richie Sambora’s $400,000-plus guitar collection and nearly tripped over Jon Bon Jovi’s mic stand. Smooth, I know.
Getting a glimpse to see the stage up-close-and-personal was sweet, no doubt, but what was even cooler was hearing the stories of crew chief Mike Rew, the band’s right-hand man.
Rew gave a few of us a guided tour of the multi-million-dollar stage, with all its gadgets and high-tech features and of course, sneaked a few stories about what the band is really like.
Somewhat surprisingly, he said the guys who make up Bon Jovi are laid back, extremely lovable, just all-around nice guys. He said the band — and the large crew that accompanies the band — is really like its own little family. Not surprising, since it’s rare that any of these guys get to see their actual families too often.
That is the one hitch to the job, Rew said. He misses his kids and wishes he could be with them more — but “Hey, that’s what Skype is for, right?”
First Rew took us by the enormous screens that light up the entire back portion of the stage. Each screen lights up with just about any image the band would want and is sturdy enough for Jon Bon Jovi to jump around on them. At times, he’ll ride those screens up 20 feet high in the air. Scary!
The screens are controlled by robotic arms, similar to the kind that put cars together — let’s hope for Bon Jovi’s sake, they’re not the same ones that piece together Toyotas.
Rew took us around the back to the little universe that exists under the stage. There, we saw soundboards upon soundboards, mini screens with views of the stage and an entire crew, tuning guitars and getting ready for the show.
Turning the corner, there they were — Jon Bon Jovi’s guitars. There were probably a half dozen guitars or so inside a giant case, lined with set lists from just about every city you could imagine. While all the guitars get their time in the spotlight, Rew pulled out Jon’s most prized possession — his all-time favorite acoustic guitar.
The guitars sat next to an almost all white microphone stand. I had a hunch and just had to ask, “Is this Jon Bon Jovi’s mic stand?”
“Yup, you’re looking at it,” Rew replied.
Sweet. If there were less people in the room, I might have been tempted to grab that bad boy and do my own little lip-synced rendition of “Livin’ On A Prayer.”
Next, it was on to Richie Sambora’s plethora of guitars. Sambora travels with two cases full of eceletic — and even Richie Sambora brand — guitars. Rew said the total collection is well beyond $400,000. Wow. (Fun sidenote: Within one of the guitar cases, I noticed a couple of Girl Scout Cookie boxes that were stashed away. Hey, even rock Gods need their Do-si-dos.)
And if that wasn’t enough for a sweet behind-the-scenes tour, Rew uttered the words we were all secretly hoping to hear: “Do you guys wanna go up on stage?”
Uh, does a bear you-know-what in the woods?
A small, silver stairway took us up to the gigantic stage. On the way up, Rew told us those are the stairs — and the direct access — the band uses when they make their triumphant debut on stage.
The stage — though massive — is actually full of wires, microphone controls and taped down set lists. It’s tough to imagine walking on this stage, let alone rocking out and doing some major Jon Bon Jovi hair flipping.
The coolest thing about the stage is perhaps the view from it — you can just about see every seat at the Xcel Center. So for you ladies out there, ready to hoist “Marry Me Jon” signs in the air, chances are — he’ll see ‘em.
That’s why I’ll be working on mine tonight. Ha, only kidding … mostly. I’m heading to the concert on Thursday and have my pipes nice and rested to belt out some Jovi tunes. Be sure to check back on Sunday for my full review of the show. And please, leave a comment and let me know what you thought of the show!
Sara Boyd is a web producer and columnist at WCCO.COM.