On paper, the Abu Dhabi show wasn't overly special (20 songs and "Capt. Crash" in the freaking encore?!) but the significance of the gig went beyond the set. For starters, it was the first time Bon Jovi had ever played in the Middle East. I won't pretend that money wasn't a factor in picking Abu Dhabi and there's no need for anyone else to pretend either (I mean, China has a communist government and a capitalist economy; money talks. I sure don't begrudge my favourite band for getting paid to do something they love!). But it would be interesting to find out how many of us in the Western world -- when we hear the words "Middle East" -- automatically think of terrorists, planes crashing into buildings, and bombs going off? And how many of us come to those conclusions without actually knowing anything about Islam OR the Middle East (they are different things!) outside of what the media and politicians tell us? So it's a fluffy romantic ideal but I guess I'm a true believer in the power of music to transcend real or perceived borders between cultures.
But if you think everything I just wrote is crap, then here's another reason why this show was special: "Bed of Roses". The This Left Feels Right version had already been played during the Lost Highway and Have a Nice Day tours, usually on a platform out in the crowd. Great for the girl who gets to dance with Jon, and great for the casual fans who can't tell the difference between the two versions, but not so for those of us who missed the original.
But on May 20, 2008, the electric version as it appears on Keep the Faith was performed for the first time in five years. I have a real soft spot for this song as it was the first Bon Jovi song I ever fell in love with. The keys are great; that wailing guitar gives you goosebumps that TLFR can't even begin to reach; and I was just so proud of Jon for bringing "the real Bed of Roses" back! Check out the video.
Now back to earlier point about music transcending cultural barriers... This is by no means the best performance of "Livin' on a Prayer" of the tour, but Jon for one looks pretty impressed by the crowd's reaction to his a'cappella intro. Not bad for a "corporate" gig! Who knows, the band might even return to the Middle East someday.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Emirates Palace (20/5/08)
BORN TO BE MY BABY
YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME
SLEEP w/ Rockin' All Over The World & Start Me Up
(YOU WANT TO) MAKE A MEMORY
WHOLE LOT OF LEAVIN'
IN THESE ARMS
WE GOT IT GOIN' ON
IT'S MY LIFE
BAD MEDICINE w/ Shout
I'LL BE THERE FOR YOU - RICHIE VOX
BED OF ROSES
WHO SAYS YOU CAN'T GO HOME
HAVE A NICE DAY
KEEP THE FAITH
LIVIN' ON A PRAYER
CAPTAIN CRASH & THE BEAUTY QUEEN FROM MARS
WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE