A couple of weeks ago, news all over was abuzz that the legendary hard rockers Guns N Roses would be coming over to Abu Dhabi for a one day only concert. When I first heard bout it, I brushed it off thinking 'No Freakin' Way!'. Not long after that, it was official ... Thinkflash, a local events company announced in all major publications that the show was on. The best part, general admission tickets were going for AED150 (approx. RM125). VIP tics a.k.a. Golden Circle tics cost AED450. A couple of my colleagues were all excited and began planning for this 'MUST SEE' event.
In the end, eight of us including Ferdie, a chap from our sub contractor's company confirmed our attendance by purchasing the tickets. What's even better was that if tickets were purchased in batches of 4, we get AED25 off ... which translated to only AED125 a stub. Now this is a real STEAL!!! :D
So on Dec 16, we packed up and left work slightly earlier that usual. Once at the villa, everyone rushed to freshen up and had an early dinner. At 6:15pm. we were on the road ... bound for the Yas Arena (next to the Yas Marina F1 circuit and Ferrari World) where the concert was to be held. Ferdie decided to go on his own since he wasn't ready by the time we left. On the way there, Khairi was already blasting Sweet Child O Mine from his mobile just to get everyone in the mood. Our driver wasn't very sure of the direction but luckily all we had to do was to follow the throng of vehicles headed towards the same direction.
After a slight traffic congestion, we arrived and had to walk a couple of hundred meters from the car park to the arena. That was ok though as the weather was sublimingly cool. Along the way, we also feasted our eyes Ferrari World's rollercoaster track. It looked amazing and am sure the ride is even more so. Everywhere you see people donning GnR T-Shirts chatting excitedly ... obviously waiting for the show to begin in eager anticipation. The MASSIVE crowd of 25000 were made up of mostly Westerners, Filipinos, Indians and locals. A good mix that clearly proved GnR have reached out and garnered fans from every corner of the globe.
At about half past 7pm, we made our way through the front gates of the arena. It's my first time there and I must add that the place is rather impressive. Humongous open field area that allowed the concert goers to bask beneath the bright crescent moon and the millions of twinkling stars ... but the only stars everyone were waiting to see had to be the ones getting ready backstage. :)
While waiting, we browsed at the merchandise booth and they only had pathetic Yas's t-sirts and caps ... nothing from GnR whatsoever. *Boo hoo* Anyway, I headed to the booth with a big sign that read 'Beer Only'. For AED30, I snagged myself an ice cold pint of Heineken. What's a rock concert without booze eh :p Also available were other non-alco drinks and finger food i.e. kebab rolls, fries etc.
We picked a spot behind the VIP area facing the center of the stage. Those VIP ticket holders have proper seatings while the rest of us 'poor' folks had to stand. But then again, wouldn't it be weird watching a rock concert seating down? By 8pm, the crowd were pressing in and there was no need for a jacket despite it being winter over here. Both the large LCD screens on stage were playing a mix of adverts while the speakers were blarring mostly pop rock tunes.
At precisely quarter past 8pm, the lights on stage went out and a bunch of guys positioned themselves behind their intruments. Introducing themselves as Juliana Down (a local western rock band), the pumped out a couple of their songs which this blogger think is very very mediocre. Credit must be given as they tried really hard to get the crowd going but it's just isn't good enough. About half and hour later, they thanked the crowd and made their way ot of the stage. The stage crew then went about tuning the drums and guitars for the main event guys. It's very apparent that everyone was filled with uncontrollable eagerness. The level of expectation created electricity in the air.
But alas, we waited and waited ... each time the organizers tested the stage lights, the crowd went wild ... thinking that the show was finally starting only to be left dissapointed when another lousy song blasted on the speakers. We bitched amongst ourselves that the band was probably OD-ing backstage *lol* but I personally think they weren't even at the venue yet at that time. I guess this is what rockstars do ... revving up the enthusiasm by being exceptionally late :p
Our spot was very close to the camera crew's podium. So when I saw two burly guys climbing up and stationed themselves behind their respective cameras, I knew this is it!!! I grew up in high school listening to the few of GnR's better known hits and to somehow see these idols performing live is some sort of a dream come true. Before this I never thought I'd ever see GnR rocking it live, so this is one item I can cross out of my bucket list :)
The lights went out. The crowd cheered deafeningly. Everyone was clapping, shouting and wolf-whistling wildly. The screen played a collage of images from the band's latest album, Chinese Democracy and then the screeching sounds from Slash's guitar sent everyone into a fanatical frenzy. Axl Rose then came out and belted out one of their newer hits. Don't ask me what song it was cause I'm only familiar with their older ones. :p
Here's the opening in case you guys wanna see it ...
They rocked and they rocked HARD ... non stop for the next two and a half hours. All the tiredness from standing for the past 3 hours or so seemed to be have evaporated. There were quite a few solo performances which were nothing short of amazing but it was after Slash's solo effort that he 'goreng-ed' his guitar for Sweet Child O Mine. This is when things EXPLODED!!! Everyone started headbanging in unison and I couldn't even hear Axl cause everyone else including yours truly were singing along at the very top of our lungs. The other GnR 'classics' I really enjoyed last night were Knocking On Heaven's Door, November Rain and Don't Cry.
Here's the ending to November Rain with Axl on the piano ...
One incident stained the outing when a jackass from behind thought it'd be funny to throw a pint of beer on the people in front. So a bunch of us got drizzled by Heineken. It's not that big of a deal for me but for my Muslim colleagues, it was a big turnoff. We suspected that it was done by one of the ang moh teenagers since the group was getting rowdy ... moshing around with their shirts off. Subsequently, another group ... also ang mohs confronted them and a near scuffle ensued. But the efficiency of the organizers was showcased as the security bouncers appeared out of no where and neutralised the situation instantaneously so everyone else could get back to enjoying the concert.
It wasn't long before they guys bid everyone goodbye and the lights went off but the show wasn't over. Why you asked? ... cause the camera guys were still manning their stations very attentively. *Haha* Everyone shouted 'We Want More!!!' and it didn't take 5 minutes before the band was out again and the crowd roared.
The show finished with a bang with Paradise City. The stage was fantastic with no expense spared. The lightings were breath taking ... in fact, the best I've ever seen and the spontaneous filming editing by the crew was superb. Most importantly, the showmanship by each and everyone of the band members were incredibly astounding. Slash also displayed his trademark ciggie on the guitar :) With a combination of fireworks, shooting fireballs and a shower of confettis ... this is without a doubt the best concert I've been to as echoed by my colleagues as well. Okay ... so I've not been to that many anyways but you get my drift. *Haha* Guns N Roses ... truly rock legends in their own right!
Before this, I never imagined ever seeing GnR rocking it live before my eyes and I'm glad I did. As we made our way home, my knees were aching, the neck sore and my throat parched but the overall satisfaction more than made up for it. Tiesto will be playing in Feb and I heard Metallica is headed this way too. Oh boy!!! ... >:D
Note : The two videos above were taken off Youtube
UPDATE : That wasn't Slash that played that night ... read the comments.