They arrived, they performed, and they certainly conquered.
Legendary rock band Bon Jovi made history on Tuesday night when they played their first concert in the Middle East at Abu Dhabi's Emirates Palace. But that's not all; the UAE capital also entered the record books as the band's much-anticipated debut in the region was witnessed by more than 17,000 fans, according to organisers. This makes it the largest concert to be held in the emirate so far.
Since the announcement of Bon Jovi's Abu Dhabi date – part of their Lost Highway tour – broke earlier in the year, it was clear that the show was going to be the hottest ticket of the year so far. And this certainly turned out to be the case, with the Dh290-category tickets selling out weeks before the concert. Judging by the attendance on the night, sales of the other categories did similarly well.
So was all the hype worth it? Definitely. Jon Bon Jovi still has it, and his band mates, Richie Sambora, David Bryan and Tico Torres, proved equally entertaining as they blasted through the band's catalogue of hits, including Bad Medicine, You Give Love a Bad Name, Keep The Faith, Wanted Dead or Alive, and of course their anthem, Livin' on a Prayer.
The crowd, spanning three generations, couldn't get enough, singing along to every number.
Particular highlights include when Jon took a backseat for Richie to sing I'll Be There for You, as well as the band adding covers to their setlist, such as Lulu's Shout, and the Status Quo song Rocking All Over the World. Jon also surprised everyone by singing the beautiful Bed of Roses, a song which really showcased his talent as a great vocalist. One major disappointment, however, was their exclusion of Always, which many fans were expecting to hear on the night.
Of course, with every major show comes a few set-backs, and although the concert was very well organised, ticket/wristband exchanges would have gone a lot smoother if there was a proper queuing system at the booth, as well as staff not running out of certain coloured wristbands.
Leaving the car park was also a bit of a nightmare with everyone trying to leave at once; however, once on the road, traffic was flowing well thanks to the efforts of the Abu Dhabi Police.
Finally, on the way home I tuned into Dubai 92 where the RJs were receiving calls about the concert. Some said they loved it, others said the band's performance was average. I guess you can't please everyone, eh?
Prior to Tuesday's gig, Jon Bon Jovi admitted a date with the region was long overdue, putting the delay down to the "long walk to get to the desert". He and his band used Abu Dhabi to launch the second leg of their Lost Highway tour.
The Ambassadors of Rock were excited another market was opening up for them in the UAE. "Even though our country's foreign policies may not be appreciated, our music has been," he said. "We've been welcomed wherever we've visited; that's our greatest achievement." They asked for song requests at the press conference, but this turned into a missed opportunity for fans who were disappointed when they didn't perform their smash hit, Always.