Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival guide 2019

It's back, and it's less jazzy than ever – here's why you should be excited

Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival guide 2019
Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival guide 2019 Image #2
Alicia Keys
Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival guide 2019 Image #3
Snow Patrol

After a year of waiting, nail biting, calendar crossing and eager news checking, the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival is back again for a big weekend of super-funky tunes, big crowds and even bigger stage shows, with three absolutely, certifiably world-class headliners.

Now back for its 17th edition, and with the kind of typically un-jazzy line-up we’ve come to expect in recent years, the festival runs from Wednesday February 20 until Friday 22. Despite rumours of change, it has maintained its three-night arrangement, with each night seeing a mighty pop act hit the stage.

Last year saw Ricky Martin, Duran Duran and John Legend take to the stage, and we can’t wait to see all the stars on the line-up this year.

Hit the right Key(s)
So, who is going to be in town for 2019?

Well, there’s little doubt over who’s the top-billing, show-stopping headliner this year. Alicia Keys is the festival-closing act on Friday night, back in Dubai for the first time since 2015, and she promises an absolutely massive gig full of raw musical talent coupled with her bags of showmanship and stunning vocals. And given Keys has won a total of 15 Grammy Awards, and sold more than 30 million records worldwide, this is going to be an absolutely enormous performance from the artist who’s brought us what are without doubt some of the century’s biggest hits.

We’re talking about tracks like Fallin’, Empire State of Mind and No One, which all topped the US Billboard Singles Charts. Then there are a whole bunch more to come, like If I Ain’t Got You, A Woman’s Worth, Girl On Fire and My Boo.

Space cowboys return
Meanwhile, jazz, funk and disco fusion legends Jamiroquai, led by flamboyant hat-wearer and Ferrari collector Jay Kay, precede Keys on the Thursday (February 21). The band are back on the road and roaring their way into 2019 with the festival’s weekend-starting headline slot – and it’s promising to be a big one.

You can expect to hear the full band in even fuller swing, and a night stuffed to the rafters with the 1990s and 2000s hits from which the band become global superstars.

Keep an ear open for Virtual Insanity, Space Cowboy, Canned Heat, Deeper Underground, Seven Days in Sunny June, Cosmic Girl, Little L and so many more. And while you’re keeping your ears open, you should also keep your eyes open for Jay Kay’s remote-controlled, light-up, American Indian-inspired headpiece. It’s a feat of human engineering… and fashion, we suppose…

Jamiroquai will be supported by local act Abri & Funk Radius, a suitably funky group of Dubai music scene veterans who’ve been around for years. Keb’ Mo’ will complete proceedings on the Thursday evening – a four-time Grammy Award-winning American blues guitarist and singer from the home of blues, Nashville, Tennessee.

Light up, light up
Opening this year’s festival are veteran indie rockers Snow Patrol, currently touring their latest album Wildness, the band’s first since 2011’s Fallen Empires.

Wednesday February 20 will see the Northern Irish five-piece return to Dubai for the first time since 2012, when they headlined the Sandance festival.

But it’s set to be a triumphant comeback to the city for the band credited with the “most widely played song of the decade” with the enduringly powerful and haplessly emotional Chasing Cars back in the 2000s, a title bestowed upon the song by music licensing organisation Phonographic Performance Limited.

As well as Chasing Cars, you can expect to hear hits like Run, Chocolate, Spitting Games, Open Your Eyes, You’re All I have as well as tunes off the latest record, like Don’t Give In.

If you’re yet to give Wildness a listen, expect a raw and emotion-driven record, so swot up and get ready to belt out some enduring lyrics – if you aren’t left hoarse, you did it wrong.

Support comes in the form of local three-piece act Vandalye, who won a highly commended award from Time Out Dubai at the 2018 Music & Nightlife Awards. They’ll be on stage alongside internationally celebrated funk harmonica and vocalist Frédéric Yonnet, who completes the day’s line-up.
Tickets from Dhs350. Feb 20-22. Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, www.800tickets.com.

(and they’re all within walking distance)

After-party on the beach, anyone? There aren’t many cities in the world where you can catch a world-class gig then head straight to the shore for some night-time seaside party vibes.
Open Sat-Wed 10am-1am, Thu-Fri 10am-2.30am. Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh (04 318 1313).

Industrial Avenue
If grooving on down to a huge live show has got you ready to dance the night away, head to this stripped-back nightclub, which has got a ladies’ night offer every night, and is open all the way through until 3am.
Open Wed-Thu 9pm-3am, Fri 5pm-3am. The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Al Sufouh (04 511 7139).

Mr. Miyagi’s & Cobra Kai

Want a proper crazy party? These conjoined bars in Media One Hotel will give you hops pong, karaoke, some real Asian street vibes and a pumping night that’ll run through until the wee hours.
Open daily 11am-3am. Media One Hotel, Dubai Media City (04 420 7489).

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