The biggest and best gigs taking place before the end of the year
There really is plenty to be excited about right now - as the summer lull comes to an end, the big gigs come out. With new concert, festival and big name DJ announcements coming thick and fast, we've cherry-picked 20 of the biggest and best events taking place in Dubai and Abu Dhabi before the end of the year. Click forward to see what awaits.
Horace Andy at Drop Dread The Drop Dread team are clearly preparing to up the ante in the new season, and their statement of intent is this not insubstantial booking. Rootsy Jamaican singer Horace Andy is something of a reggae legend, and alongside his incredible and extended CV of releases, you might recognise his contributions to all five of trip-hoppers Massive Attack’s albums. We’re just not sure how Horace’s huge vocal projections are going to fit into tiny Casa Latina’s four walls.
Andy is the first in a string of serious bookings at this emerging night, with Mungos Hi Fi with Mr Williamz booked for November 1 and Earl Gateshead, of Trojan Soundsystem fame, on December 6. Price TBC. Casa Latina. September 6.
Tom Jones No, it’s not as unusual as you might think to find a guilty pleasure in the music of Tom Jones. Having successfully moved through so many degrees of self parody that he can now be re-accepted as a Welsh national treasure, we say it’s perfectly acceptable to be looking forward to this early-autumn show. Dhs300-450. September 19. du Forum, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi www.thinkflash.ae.
The Lightning Seeds AND Toploader In what must be the bargain ticket of the year, for just Dhs70 you can see two notable ’90s guitar bands, who have enough radio hits between them that even the most phobe-struck of music-phobe is likely to find themselves nodding along. Topping the IV’s Arthur’s Day bill is The Lightning Seeds who, quite apart from penning footie anthem ‘Three Lions’ alongside comedians Baddiel and Skinner, jammed early ’90s airwaves with a string of MOR indie-pop hits including ‘Life of Riley’, ‘Pure’ and ‘Change’. They’ll have competition on the night from co-headliners Toploader, who remain a jukebox favourite for their infuriatingly catchy cover of King Harvest's song ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’. Dhs70. September 26. The Irish Village, Garhoud, www.itp.net/tickets/.
360° rooftop reopening party with Nick Curly Everyone’s favourite circular dancefloor booms back into life on Thursday October 3 with main player Nick Curly doing the honours behind the decks. A fan favourite and Space Ibiza resident, the German DJ is the first in a trio of high-profile Middle Eastern debuts coming to 360° this season, with Feel My Bicep confirmed for Audio Tonic on October 4, and Tube & Berger on October 25. Free. October 3. 360°, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, www.audiotonic.net.
Al Murray ‘The Pub Landlord’ A Dubai regular who seems to provoke more hype on every returning visit, British comedian Al Murray has formally graduated from the emirate’s theatres to host an arena show at Dubai World Trade Centre. Now dining out on his xenophobic, hop-glugging creation ‘The Pub Landlord’ for close to 20 years, it is the same ‘The Only Way is Epic’ show you might have caught at Madinat Theatre last September, but Murray has promised us plenty of fresh material.
So, Al, what’s the Landlord been up to for the past year? ‘Well he’s becoming more and more convinced of his mission to save Western civilisation from itself by delivering his usual brand of [rubbish].’ Excellent. Dhs300-500. October 4. Dubai World Trade Centre, www.itp.net/tickets/.
Reverend and the Makers Depending on how you look at it, by naming last year’s third LP @Reverend_Makers (after their Twitter handle, duh), laddish indie-rockers Reverend and the Makers are either bang on the modern-sounding money, or hopelessly/helplessly thrashing around in a new decade in which they no longer belong. True, Jon McClure (nicknamed ‘The Reverend’ because of his gregarious gob, we’re told) and his Makers (which include Jon’s wife Laura on keys) have never quite topped the heady heights of UK top ten debut single ‘Heavyweight Champion Of The World’, but after a few years off the band now seem to be rattling along like they just don’t care, toting their same brand of nifty guitar hooks and Alex Turner-aping lyrics (he’s a mate of Jon’s, don’tchaknow). Price TBC. October 4. The Music Room, Majestic Hotel Towers (056 799 6355).
Jason Byrne Following from a reliably wacky stop at JLT conference centre Almas Tower last year, hyperactive Irish comedian Byrne is back for another two-night stand in the same venue. Last time he brought his Cirque du Byrne show, which pretty much consisted of inviting audience members onstage to perform demeaning (but often hilarious) stunts. But as he now prepares to debut an all-new show, Jason Byrne’s Special Eye, at his 13th (!) visit to the Edinburgh Fringe this August, we’re expecting the venue to be the only thing recognisable from last year’s visit. Dhs120. October 10-11. Almas Towers. Tickets on sale August 22 from www.itp.net/tickets/.
Sandance third birthday with The Killers Blimey, has it been three years already? After launching as a dance-centric beach shindig in October 2010, Sandance moved from an amble into a stride a year later when Richard Ashcroft and The Script headlined the third and fourth festivals a month apart, in October and November 2011 respectively. That kick-started the now familiar formula of mixing a chilled sunset act, crowd pleasing indie-rock after dark and a late-night DJ, which will thankfully be stuck to for this 12-hour, season-opening birthday bash.
Having recently headlined London’s Wembley Stadium – where they touchingly performed ‘Wembley Song’ written specially for the occasion – The Killers must be the festival’s biggest booking yet. But the promoters haven’t skimped on the rest of the bill, with the welcomingly edgy booking of Icelandic indie sextet Of Monsters and Men, while The Wailers – yep, that’s Bob Marley’s backing band – might be the most perfect sunset fit we can think of. Expect a big name DJ to be added to the bill soon. And c’mon Brandon, you’ve got a few months yet to knock us together a spot of ‘Sandance Blues’. Dhs295-500. Friday October 11. Atlantis The Palm, www.itp.net/tickets/.
Public Enemy’s DJ Lord New monthly hip-hop happening Boombox brings out the big guns for its third edition. Esteemed turntablist DJ Lord has been a member of Public Enemy – rightly recognised as among the most influential rap groups ever – since 1999. Dhs100. Friday October 18. The Music Room, Majestic Hotel Tower.
Rihanna It’s official – Rihanna is the most popular person on the planet. Well, according to Facebook anyway, her 63 million ‘likes’ currently out-trump any social media competition (although Justin Bieber is catching up fast, with close to 56 million clicks). This fact, and the Facebook demographic that goes with it, may well explain why there’s more chat about her wardrobe and relationship status than her music, but that doesn’t belittle RiRi’s career achievements. Which, incidentally, include shifting 150 million downloads (also a record), picking up six Grammys, and with ‘Diamonds’ creating the most infuriating earworm since Gotye. Thanks for that. Dhs295-1,295. October 19. du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.thinkflash.ae.
Jay Z After weeks of hype the final act to be announced for this year’s F1 was massive rap legend Jay-Z, who has sold more than 50 million records – and appears nearly five years to the day after his wife Beyoncé took to the same stage to launched the first ever Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Friday November 1 2013. du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.thinkflash.ae.
Muse In terms of sheer spectacle, there are few bands who can rival Muse. On record the trio’s mix of operatic soaring vocals, robo-geek riffing and pretentious, proggy song arrangements can all sound a bit silly – see the 13-minute three-part track ‘Exogenesis: Symphony’ (complete with ‘Overture’, ‘Cross Pollination’ and ‘Redemption’ movements). But live, it all somehow makes sense – a thrilling avalanche of light and sound pushing the boundaries of genre, fashion, musical technique and good taste into the stratosphere.
The only odd thing about them headlining the After-Race Concerts at this year’s Abu Dhabi F1? All that theatre may prove a tad much for a casual crowd – especially when coupled with the far darker hues of a ’80s synth-dirge-pop trio..... (see next page). Concerts only open to race day ticket holders, from Dhs395 per day. November 2. du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.thinkflash.ae.
Depeche Mode We’re big fans of Depeche Mode’s artful blend of dark textures and noddable melodies, which translate surprisingly well to the stadiums. Meanwhile this year’s impressive Delta Machine (album number 13) proved there’s still more than a creative spark spare with Dave Gahan and co. Concerts only open to race day ticket holders, from Dhs395 per day. November 3. du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.thinkflash.ae.
John Cleese Initially scheduled for May, comedy legend John Cleese’s return visit to Madinat Theatre has now been confirmed for a five-night run from November 9. Cleese is returning with the same An Evening with... concept he brought to the same venue last May, and if you caught that, the comedian has one simple message: ‘Anyone who saw the show last time, unless they’re reverent fans, does not need to see it again.’ But despite Cleese’s protestations, there is one notable change this year – in what looks like a ripe culture clash Virgin Radio DJ Kris Fade will be chairing the questions to the elder statesman of British comedy.
Recently returning to the UK after a period of enforced tax exile in Monaco, the notoriously grumpy 73-year-old is looking chirpier of late, following last year’s marriage to wife number three Jennifer, 41. On the night hope to hear some well-worn anecdotes about Cleese’s time as member of Monty Python, the surrealist troupe that revolutionised comedy over four movies and their Flying Circus sketch show. He’s also likely to touch on his role as the writer-star of classic A Fish Called Wanda, and his career high playing Q in a couple of Bond movies. Less likely to crop up is Cleese’s more recent work as the voice of King Harold in the Shrek movies, Harry Potter’s Nearly Headless Nick, and his voiceover work for videogames, TV ads – and even a popular car sat nav system. Tickets to be released. November 5-9. Madinat Theatre (04 366 6546).
Alicia Keys and Jason Derullo Going head to head with Jamiroquai and Chic at Sandance is ‘Girl on Fire’ Alicia Keys. She may have been appointed 'global creative director' at BlackBerry last year, but soulful Ms Keys has enjoyed a musical career renaissance of late. After jamming airwaves as the featured vocalist on Jay-Z’s 2009 smash ‘Empire State of Mind’, last year’s fifth studio LP saw the 32-year-old singer updating her style with collaborations alongside Bruno Mars, Babyface, Frank Ocean and Jamie xx. The title track rewarded Keys with her biggest hit single since 2007’s ‘No One’.
Keys first found fame with her debut album Songs in A Minor, her bestselling album to date, which is known for breakout hit ‘Fallin’’. She has gone on to sell more than 30 million albums worldwide, and returns to Dubai Media City Amphitheatre after making a splash with her regional debut at the same venue in 2004. She also appeared at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed Sports City, supporting George Michael at a National Day celebration, in 2008.
Meanwhile American R&B Jason Derulo will support Keys at the 14,000-capacity gig. He’s no stranger to the emirate, playing at the inaugural Dubai Caribbean Carnival last November, a few months after getting on the mic at People by Crystal last June. Dhs295-1,295. November 15. Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, www.itp.net/tickets/.
Sandance with Jamiroquai and Chic featuring Nile Rodgers Little over a month after celebrating its third birthday, November’s Sandance will take a turn into funkier territory with both Jamiroquai and Chic featuring Nile Rodgers taking headline slots. While Jay Kay and co are taking headlining duties, it may be Chic who are most in vogue now – 36 years after they first set the dancefloor alive with self-serving singles like ‘Dance Dance Dance’ and ‘Everybody Dance’. A bang-on-the-money booking, the disco pioneers hit Dubai fresh from acclaimed festival sets at British Summer Time, Exit Festival and Glastonbury – where many critics singled them out as the highlight.
At 60 years old Chic’s dreadlocked leader Nile Rodgers may be the most in-demand guitarist in the world right now, after supplying his trademark string work to (and co-writing) Daft Punk’s recent mega-hit ‘Get Lucky’, which has topped charts in at least 15 countries and is currently the best selling UK single of 2013. Rodgers also worked on two other tunes from the duo’s new hyped LP, Random Access Memories. As well as leading Chic, Rodgers has added his imitable touch producing and writing a huge list of hits for other artists, including David Bowie’s ‘Let’s Dance’, Diana Ross’ ‘I’m Coming Out’ and Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ – all party favourites which featured on Chic’s summer setlist.
Jamiroquai are best known for dominating the UK charts with a string of ’90s hits including ‘Virtual Insanity’, ‘Cosmic Girl’ and Godzilla theme tune ‘Deeper Underground’, and have sold more than 40 million albums worldwide. Both acts will add a funk and soul flavour to the festival, with organisers saying that two more headliners are to be announced in coming weeks. Dhs295-500. November 15. Atlantis The Palm, www.itp.net/tickets/.
Fun Lovin’ Criminals The ‘Scooby Snacks’ team will be stopping by for a Dubai DJ set – well, two-thirds of them will be, with frontman Huey staying home while Frank and Fast supply the deckwork on this short Middle Eastern tour. Expect some old-school house, and although a venue is yet to be tied down for the gig, we’re told it’s likely to be intimate affair. Thursday November 21. Price and venue details TBC.
Craig Charles at Sunny Vibe Up You might know him from his role as Lister in Brit space comedy Red Dwarf, presenting fanboy fantasy showdown Robot Wars, his late-career renaissance in Coronation Street, or perhaps just his notorious tabloid-splattered excesses. However musos will tell you Charles has one other significant string to his bow – The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show. Charles has been spinning choice nuggets on the UK’s BBC Radio 6 Music every Saturday for more than a decade.
While he’s not much of a club DJ, relying on hidden handymen to drop the tunes while he hypes an incessant round of rabble rousing into the mic, it’s this populist approach he’ll be bringing to underground pool party Sunny Vibe Up on November. If you can’t wait that long, the Deep Crates Cartel behind the night have also booked some serious stuff with DJ Wrongtom and DJ Smooth both also playing Dusk Terrace, on September 27 and October 18 respectively. Price TBC. November 22. Dusk Terrace, Radisson Blu Hotel Media City (04 366 9111).
Creamfields Abu Dhabi While there’s no headliners confirmed yet, looking at the previous editions of this worldwide dancefest should be enough to make any mainstream musical maniac breakout into a cold sweat: last year world heavyweights David Guetta and Armin van Buuren went head to head, while a year earlier Tiësto, deadmau5 and Magnetic Man all played over two nights. Like last year, the 2013 event will be a slimmed down one day roster, likely to rely on a few top-rank headliners. Get them glow sticks ready. Dhs150. December 13. du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.
Pacha Ibiza launch party? While nothing official had been announced at the time of writing, we’ve had it from a number of trusted insiders that renowned Ibiza clubbing brand Pacha will be launching before Christmas, taking the spot once occupied by another Dubai super club. When the news drops, you’ll be the first to know, but we’re sure the Pacha party people will have something rather special planned for opening night. Details to be announced.