Abu Dhabi weekend

We look back at Abu Dhabi’s hottest weekend to date… Comments

© ITP Images

On paper, the weekend was a triumph before it had even started - two of the world’s biggest acts playing back-to-back in the UAE capital, attracting thousands of fans from across the Emirates.

The weekend got off to a bumpy start. The wind whipped up a minor sandstorm in the dusty carpark at Emirates Palace and dumped its contents all over the bemused guests, many of whom had turned up in their opera finest. When the announcement came that the maestro would be onstage late, minor sandstorm threatened to turn into minor mutiny.

Andrea Bocelli is an odd tin of sardines. Like a classical Robbie Williams, you get the feeling he’d like to be a lot grander than he actually is. Certainly, he can cough up a better Rigoletto than you or I, and lesser men would blush at those high notes, but – as he proved in the second half on Friday night – his voice is better suited to Italian easy listening, or the Lloyd-Weber-esque ‘Time to Say Goodbye’, rather than the assault on opera’s greatest arias that he staged in the first.

For his final trick, he dribbled ‘Nessum Dorma’ down the centre of the park, showing occasional flair, before knocking a well-intended effort someway off target. Old twinkle-toes Pavarotti, should you need reminding, finished a similar move in considered style some twenty years earlier. Ending your gig with a weak version of someone else’s signature piece is, perhaps, not the best idea. Admitting that you haven’t bothered to learn any Arabic, despite your astronomical fee, smacks of arrogance.

No such language difficulties with Coldplay, whose eager-to-please front man Chris Martin must have swallowed a local dictionary. Once again, the elements voiced their disapproval in spectacular fashion – the primordial stew that had been brewing throughout Saturday finally giving way to a vast and furious electrical storm an hour before show time. It paused briefly to allow Mercury Rev their chance to mimic Flaming Lips, beginning again with renewed vigour during the headliners’ mesmeric rendition of smash hit ‘Yellow’. Never have 15,000 people looked so happy in the rain. Love him or hate him, Martin is a compelling frontman, and the unassuming young Brit managed to summon forth a devilish alter ego, pulling the gig back from the brink of being a literal washout.

If it hadn’t been for the large balls of water seemingly hurled from the sky, we’d have taken our hats off to Coldplay. On and on they played, interspersing their hit-ridden set with a cheery rendition of ‘Singing in the Rain’; amazed and delighted to be a part of the atmospheric irony. The occasion marked a triumphant close to both their world tour and one of the most surreal Abu Dhabi weekends in living memory.

By Jon Wilks
Time Out Dubai,

User reviews:

Posted by: ondinal.luna on 31 Mar ' 09 at 01:28

Perhaps the so-called critic has tin ears and very limited vocabulary... do you know many words other than gig? or is it his fee the real issue here... or do you big "fees" envy? i guess you will remain the dog howling at the moon...

Posted by: Iris Greidinger on 30 Mar ' 09 at 16:45

What an ignoramus! Pavarotti owns "Nessun dorma" and no other tenor can sing it in concert? That would be news to Domingo and all the other tenors in the world!

Since when is "La Donna e mobile" known as "Rigoletto"? That only shows this reviewer knows nothing at all about opera. It is from "Rigoletto" but not the only aria in that opera of course! That is like saying an actor recited "Hamlet" when you meant he recited "To be or not to be."

Arabic is a very difficult language and Andrea Bocelli can't learn the language of every country in the world that he visits! No one with half a brain would expect him to.

If anyoen believes this review, I invite them to visit Youtube where they can hear Andrea Bocelli singing "Nessun Dorma," "La Donna e mobile", "Di quella pira" and the other arias he sang in Abu Dhabi and judge for themselves whether he can sing opera or not.

Posted by: Rachel on 30 Mar ' 09 at 05:39

At last, a band who actually cared if we enjoyed the show! I was completely impressed with the sound, video, lights and most of all the performance of Coldplay who did everything they could to ensure we got our money's worth. So different to other bands (like Queen and Paul Rogers) who didn't put in the effort. Before I went to the show I thought Coldplay's music was good, now I'm a fan.


Posted by: Hind on 29 Mar ' 09 at 15:35

do you even know what you are talking about???
have you even attended the concert? you arejust jealous because you have never been and never will be like Andrea Bocelli not even in your wildest dreams.
Go educate yourself about real music first before you poison our minds with what you write.

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