Friday, October 02, 2015

Bon Jovi In Kuala Lumpur 2015

So, anytime someone asks me about the best gigs by international acts I've seen on Malaysian soil, I always rattle out the same list:

3. Deep Purple at Shah Alam Stadium (can't remember the year, but it was the first time they were here)
2. Bryan Adams at PWTC (1993/94)
1. Bon Jovi at Shah Alam Stadium (1995)

Indeed, that Bon Jovi gig was truly a memorable show and was special in every way. 50,000 fans (paying RM50 each, ONLY), thronged to the stadium to welcome the hottest band in the world then. Local act Lost Souls played the opening set, but when Bon Jovi appeared on stage with the volume turned all the way up, it totally blew my mind.

But let's focus on the present. When I first heard about their possible date here, I was like, "Damnit, it's been 20 LONG years! Forget them, I'M the one who's old." Haha.

But yeah, immediately I knew I had to be there. Of course there were questions about if this could be as good as that last concert, and if the band would have enough in the tank to blow us all away yet again. After all, Jon Bon Jovi is now 53 years old! But then again, JBJ is not your ordinary rock star...

So when the day came, we were all pumped up for a rockin' good time. I was in a black tee and jeans, and as it turned out, so were 10,000 other guys of all ages who made their way to Merdeka Stadium.

This time, there was no opening act. 8.30pm and bam, Bon Jovi was on stage! Everyone screamed and the rockin' out began. Stage design was pretty simple but the decibel level was that of a legendary band's. The big screens on both sides of the stage gave everyone a closer look at the band members, and naturally JBJ always got the bigger ovation. (And maybe Dave Bryan, who hasn't changed his hairstyle in 30 years)

Of course everyone was also wondering about what kind of set list it was gonna be like. The "purist" that I am, I was hoping for more of the earlier stuff, but looking around as well, I knew most of these guys would totally explode at "It's My Life".

As it turned out, there were more of their "later period" tunes and more of the mid tempos, stuff that JBJ could still handle. No, this is not a criticism at all! Just an acknowledgement of human limits : )

So it was a pleasant surprise when they broke into "Raise Your Hands", taken from "Slippery When Wet". And Instinctively I also knew what was coming next... "You Give Love A Bad Name"! The crowd expectedly went wild with appreciation. And you know I rocked out as well lah.

And the crowd proved to be responsive throughout the night. Every time JBJ asked for some raised hands, or a chorus singalong, he always got the reaction, even though I sensed most were just basically waiting for "Have A Nice Day", and "It's My life".

Highlights for me were when Bon Jovi went ol' skool and blasted "In These Arms", "Keep The Faith", "Bad Medicine" and "Wanted Dead Or Alive".

But no, the band refused to play their monster ballads. You know which ones I'm talking about; "Always", "I'll Be There For You", "Never Say Goodbye".

I thought there was some chance of that when they returned for an encore, but that didn't happen too. Nevertheless, they closed a fine show on a real high with "Livin' On A Prayer" (there could not have been any other song).

Overall, it felt a bit like a reunion gig, seeing them again after 20 years. JBJ didn't really talk much, but they did demonstrate yet again why they'll always be one of the all time greats...

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