A sea of Indonesian Bon Jovi fans overflowing with energy raised their hands all through Friday night as the American rock band returned to Jakarta for a live performance after two decades, making everyone feel like it was a Saturday night.
The Jakarta concert was the first show of the band’s Asian tour, titled “Bon Jovi Live!” and being held to promote the band’s 2015 album “Burning Bridges” and 12th studio album “What About Now.” The band will rock 10 other Asian countries, with its next performance in Bangkok on Sept. 15 before concluding in Tel Aviv on Oct. 5.
The concert was opened by American singer-songwriter Sam Tsui, who performed his album singles for about 30 minutes, followed by a solo performance by Indonesian rock star Judika, who sang the national anthem “Indonesia Raya.”
It took another half an hour for the fans before Bon Jovi, who last rocked Jakarta back in 1995, appeared on stage and immediately kicked off the show with “That’s What the Water Made Me.”
Performing 20 songs in two hours, the band’s original remaining members – lead singer Jon Bon Jovi, drummer Tico Torres and keyboardist/background vocalist David Bryan, with additional musicians Hugh McDonald, Phil X, and Matt O’ree – turned the Gelora Bung Karno stadium in Senayan into a massive magnet attracting more than 40,000 Indonesians and foreigners.
“Hello, apa kabar?” Jon called out to the crowd after three songs.
“Good evening, Jakarta! It’s good to be back. It’s been a long, long time. We’ve got a long way to go tonight. So, let’s get on with the jet lag,” he added.
Friday night’s atmosphere developed into an exchange of energy between the fans across the venue and Bon Jovi, who played their recent singles such as “What About Now” and “Because We Can,” and also all-time favorites such as “Bad Medicine,” “Keep the Faith” and “It’s My Life.”
Sweating from all their dancing and their voices going hoarse from singing along, the crowd still had plenty left to keep up with the beautifully played acoustic rendition of “Someday I’ll Be Saturday Night,” and jumped up and down while clapping to the anthemic “You Give Love a Bad Name.”
The fans grew even more excited as Bon Jovi played live for the very first time their latest single, “We Don’t Run,” which successfully captured the band’s old-fashioned style of rock music while remaining relatable to contemporary listeners.
As the concert neared its end, not a single sign of exhaustion was seen, and the crowd bayed for more songs even after the band played its encore with hits such as “Have a Nice Day” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.”
With 32 years in the music industry and still rocking hard, Bon Jovi proved through Friday’s concert that they still can and will bring down the house and leave fans wanting more and looking forward to their next live performance.
“Their show was definitely a remedy for rock music fans who miss veteran rock bands,” Ami, a longtime Bon Jovi fan from Jakarta, told the Jakarta Globe after the show.
Yet the signs of aging were apparent here and there. Frontman Jon didn’t dance or jump or run across stage as he used to in the hair-metal heyday of the 1980s, while hitting those mind-blowing high notes was a challenge – though he still charmed the enthusiastic crowd.
Torres and Bryan were visibly running out of breath and missing a beat or two, but still put their instruments through the wringer.
“The band might not have played like they used to when they were younger, but for rock musicians at their level, I’m still amazed by their powerful performance,” Ami said, adding she wished the band had played more of their old songs such as “Always.”
The crowd on Friday also generated abundant energy which band seemed to feed off, leaving Jon with big smile and looking awestruck at the end of every song.
“Terima kasih! Thank you very much! Aku cinta Indonesia!” he shouted before he invited the rest of the band members in a big embrace, bowed down together before the crowd, and exited the stage.
Rock concerts are always entertaining, no matter what, but Bon Jovi’s show on Friday definitely set a high benchmark for current and veteran rock bands.
If the Jakarta gig was an indication of the rest of the tour, then Bon Jovi’s fans in China, where two shows were abruptly cancelled, are definitely missing out and should fly over to the closest city where the band is scheduled to play, because it’s definitely going to be worth it.