Now that Dubai is home to a world-class, indoor arena on par with the likes of the O2 in London, New York’s Madison Square Garden and China’s Mercedes-Benz Arena, it’s of little surprise to see an increasing number of major concerts like this coming to town on a more regular basis.
Indeed, the first half of 2020 has already got some world-class acts preparing to grace the stage at the Coca-Cola Arena in City Walk - with the likes of Iron Maiden, Louis Tomlinson, Maluma, Russ and more all coming to town soon.
Closing the celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the Dubai Shopping Festival, John Legend returned to Dubai following a triumphant performance at the 2018 Dubai Jazz Fesitval.
Billed as the final act of a double header of concerts taking place over two nights, Legend took to the stage after glamorous Syrian singer Faia Younan opened the evening.
With his signature style, silky vocals and virtuosic piano skills, Legend powered his way through a set of his best-known tunes. Over the course of a set spanning more than an hour and a half, some of the biggest cheers were reserved for his early-days tunes like Ordinary People, Glory and opening tune Penthouse Floor.
But, you guessed it, the biggest reaction of the night came on the opening bar of runaway hit All Of Me, the tear jerking ballad penned to his muse and wife, Chrissy Teigan. Tissues, and gratuitous selfies, at the ready.
“Tonight we’re going to focus on love, okay Dubai?” he asked the crowd early on, having previously said “We focus so much on screens, that we forget about focusing on each other, so turn your phone off, or at least the notifications,” before going into a smooth-as-butter rendition of Overload, a song about forgetting everything else in the world, and being totally carried away in the moment.
Having immediately got the audience on their feet and dancing, the 90-minute set flew by courtesy of a top performance from the 11-strong band, with backing dancers, singers, a brass section, keys, percussion and of course, his own piano skills.
One highlight of the night saw him invite an audience member on stage to dance with him, who when asked to introduce herself, quipped “I follow your wife on Instagram, but not you.”
“Story of my life,” Legend joked in response.
Accompanied by videos of home movies of his wife and children during family ballad You & I - love, peace and happiness play a constant theme throughout the evening, at a time when it’s perhaps needed most in the world now more than ever.
With the combination of world class music, a decent, engaged crowd and audience interaction, the night was a classy, fun-loving affair to remember.
More of this please, and bring on the rest of the upcoming gigs this season. Next up, RedFest DXB, with Bastille, Stormzy, Martin Garrix and more.
John Legend played:
Love Me Now
Used To Love U
Like I’m Gonna Lose You
A Good Night
Stay With You
You & I
What’s Going On (Marvin Gaye cover)
Conversations In The Dark
All Of Me