Backstage at the Bon Jovi concert in Abu Dhabi - video

The most memorable moment came when I was walking to the edge of the stage to take a picture, only to meet rafts of applause from frantic fans, hoping I was something to do with the band, or their arrival.

Sound engineers wait at their stations on stage prior to the start of the Bon Jovi concert at Du Arena in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National
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“This isn’t what we usually do,” begins Mike Rew, Bon Jovi’s crew chief, as he meets a lucky handful of press backstage pre-show.

“Is this a school trip or are you media?” barks the brash New Jersey native, as the assembled journos heft their gear onto the Du Arena stage.

And with that, moments before Thursday’s concert, we are set loose to explore the band’s sizeable collection of gear.

At first I was too scared to touch anything – by the end I had accidentally kicked over bassist Hugh McDonald’s energy drink.

Like kids in a sweetshop, I inspected David Bryan’s keyboards and mounted Tico Torres’s intimidating drum rider.

I counted 19 gleaming guitars belonging to new guy Phil X – and mimed a chorus into what appeared to be Jon’s mic.

The most memorable moment however came walking to the edge of the stage to take a picture, only to meet rafts of applause from frantic fans, hoping I was something to do with the band, or their arrival.

More than all that expensive gear, this fleeting moment gave a far greater glimpse into what it’s really like to be a rock star.

rgarratt@thenational.ae