Any negative speculation following the change of concert venue disappeared when Guns N’ Roses opened its show on early Sunday afternoon.
The location of the concert, which was changed by the promoter at the very last minute, moved from the Senayan outdoor stadium, Central Jakarta, to the Mata Elang International indoor (MEIS) stadium in Ancol, North Jakarta.
Performing in front of around 20,000 people, the band started the concert at 1:30 p.m., it provoked the crowd by playing well-known hits — “Welcome to the jungle”, “Mr. Brownstone/It’s So Easy”, “Estranged” and “Rocket Queen” mostly taken from the band’s seminal album, Appetite for Destruction — without even acknowledging the fans.
The audience’s reaction to the timeless tunes clearly signaled that they were familiar with the songs.
Axl Rose, the band’s legendary front man, still had plenty of charm.
Wearing a jacket, black sunglasses and a cowboy hat, Axl — with his thin mustache and shoulder-length hair looked slightly chubbier than his 1990s persona — seemed to be quite relaxed. He wooed the audience by hitting those all important higher notes when singing, albeit not as high as they were 20 years ago.
Many diehard fans recognized the score music for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic movie, The Terminator.
Without losing any momentum, the band followed up with one of their favorite ballads of all time, “Sweet child o’ mine”, hightening the crowd’s hysteria.
A nice, yet sympathetic, surprise came from lead guitarist, Ron “Bumblefoot”, Tall in the middle of the show. Ron, who has been in the band since the sixth album Chinese Democracy, played the melody of Indonesia’s national anthem of “Indonesia Raya” (Great Indonesia), which spurred spontaneous singing by most of the audience. Done with the anthem, Ron then played the intro of “Don’t Cry”, one of the band most anticipated ballads.
At the end of the show, Axl shouted “terima kasih Jakarta” (thank you Jakarta) and then thanked everybody for their understanding regarding the change of day and venue.
Guns N’ Roses were at its height during the 1980s to late 1990s, which was why most of the audience seemed to be at least in their early 30s. In fact, during the show, the audience responded better to the songs that featured on older albums such as Appetite for Destruction, Lies and the double album Use Your Illusion I and II.
Amel, a member of the audience acknowledged that the band was her idol during her youth and she had been a fan ever since junior high school. She praised the concert, saying that the band were amazing.
“They are awesome. The music is great and to my surprise Axl still could reach the high notes like he used to back then,” she said.
Adli, another diehard fan, gave the band high credit for the performance. However, he said, it was apparent Axl’s stamina was lower than it used to be.
“That is pretty normal for a guy who has been around for more than 20 years. They earn the credit,” he said.
Many musicians — some of them rockers like Boomerang ex vocalist Roy Jeconiah, Aziz, lead guitarist of Jamrud, Sucker Head’s vocalist Krisna J. Sadrach and celebrities like newlyweds Iko Uwais and Audy Item — watched the concert.
Governor Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, was also reported to have attended the concert. Jokowi is known as rock music aficionado.
During the band’s performance, hundreds of smart phones were seen waving in the air filming the action. The tiny lights emitting from the phone screens created a truly unique scene. JP