Who knew way back in the, ahem, Dark Ages — when women with teased hair and guys with mullets were thrilling to the beat of "Livin' on a Prayer" — that more than 25 years later the rock group Bon Jovi would still be filling arenas around the world?
To be fair, probably no one. Not even the band members.
Thinking in terms of decades isn't exactly on the agenda of hot-to-trot rockers.
"The hardest thing in the world when you're young is to get a record deal," says keyboardist David Bryan, who travels with the band on Tuesday to the Save Mart Center. "That's all you're thinking about. Then the hardest thing is to make a No. 1 record. And then you realize the hardest thing in the world is to stay No. 1."
Part of the secret to Bon Jovi's longevity, Bryan says, is to keep pounding out albums that speak to fans.
"We always give the obvious classics that people want to hear," he says. "But we're a band that thrives on new material as well as old. For us, it's not just resting on yesterday."
The band's "Because We Can" tour kicked off in February. By tour's end, the band will have performed throughout North and South America, Europe, the Far East, Africa and Australia. The show's set has 90 high-speed moving elements and is described as "a kinetic sculpture of light and video."
For Bryan, the financial security of being in one of the world's most successful rock bands has allowed him to pursue a significant side career in the Broadway musical world. He wrote the music and lyrics for the Tony Award-winning "Memphis," which will tour to Fresno next May.
The Juilliard-trained Bryan was speaking this week from Vancouver, where the tour's fall leg started. He only had a few minutes on the phone to discuss Bon Jovi's upcoming visit to Fresno. But he hit some high points, including:
Jon Bon Jovi comes up with the set list, but it's always just a suggestion. At any time, Bryan says, the lead singer can throw in a substitution. The group has about 80 songs, old and new, that it's prepared to sing. "That's about all my brain can handle."
One reason for Bon Jovi's enduring success is that it's appealing to another generation, Bryan says. "That's the wonderful part about it. When you look out at a show, you see a lot of young fans."
Personnel updates: The band's drummer, Tico Torres, who last month had an emergency appendectomy while on tour in Mexico City, still has not rejoined the tour and most likely won't be playing in Fresno. "We're waiting for the doctor's release," Bryan says. "It's definitely been a challenging year for him."
As for the band's celebrated lead guitarist, Richie Sambora, who has not performed with the group since spring — his absence has been the subject of a large number of rumors over the summer — he won't be in Fresno, either. "That situation remains unchanged," Bryan says dryly.
Still, even with two substitutes on stage, Bryan says fans can expect a true Bon Jovi experience. "I can't wait to come to Fresno," he says. "We're going to kick ass."
Bon Jovi, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Save Mart Center. savemartcenter.com, (559) 347-3401. $19.50-$179.50
The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6373, firstname.lastname@example.org and @donaldbeearts on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.