Dubai Jazz Fest headliners OneRepublic reveal plans for Dubai concert

The US pop rockers talk to Time Out Dubai ahead of the Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival 2020

Dubai Jazz Fest headliners OneRepublic reveal plans for Dubai concert
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It’s been more than half a dozen years since US pop-rock-dance-indie-whateveryoulike band OneRepublic last graced the stage for Emirates Airline Dubai Jazz Festival, and now they’re heading back to Dubai to close out the very same festival on Friday February 28.

In the years since, the California-based six-piece have become one of the most-listened to bands in the world today – comfortably in the top 50 of Spotify’s globally most-played – and, in the words of lead singer Ryan Tedder and guitarist Drew Brown, they’re better than ever.

“Has it been seven years?” Tedder reflects. “That seems crazy! It’s going to be a very different set than it was seven years ago.”

“Better, a lot better,” Brown chirps.

For most bands who stand the test of time, and let’s not forget that this bunch of multi-talented multi-instrumentalists have been doing the rounds for some 15 years, live performances become a smooth-as-butter, well-oiled, globetrotting machine. So what should we be excited about with their headline performance to close out this year’s festival?

“There will be a lot of songs I think the majority of people will be familiar with. And not to state the obvious – but we’re a lot more handsome,” Tedder jokes. “But we try to give people what they came for – having been to countless concerts growing up, my favourite gigs are the ones where acts played their hits and my favourite songs.

“I know there are people in the crowd who love the fact a band has played track nine from their obscure, experimental album, but the other however-many-thousand people want to hear stuff that’s familiar and has become part of their life soundtrack. So we will aim to perform all of those and then sprinkle in some of those new songs, and we’ll do a small handful of tracks I’ve written for other people, too.”

A lot of the biggest bands in history are known for becoming resentful of their biggest hits, Radiohead with Creep and Led Zeppelin with Stairway are two obvious examples. OneRepublic have some absolutely massive, global hits under their belt – so are any of their tunes in danger of falling into that category after thousands of live run-outs?

“We did recently manage to scrap a song from the live set that we’ve been trying to do for a long time, which was a pretty decent-sized hit in a lot of the world,” Brown responds, without revealing which tune they wanted to ditch.

But, instead of scrapping, what about using the live immersive experience to reimagine a classic?

“Just rearranging a song and performing it in a different context and in a different way can make you fall in love with it,” says Tedder. “Initially, with If I Lose Myself (the dance hit with Alesso), the first idea we had was to bring out some tom drums and have a live drum-off. Since then loads of other bands have been doing it, so we’re continuing to find new ways of keeping it immersive.”

Immersion is a key part of any OneRepublic show, it seems, so when the 2020 general public have got a shorter attention span than ever, how is that a challenge?

“It really is about immersion, if you’re playing large-scale venues like festivals, immersion is everything,” Tedder continues. “I hate to say it but if people are at a concert and they get bored, then out come the phones. So what can you do, in 2020, to keep people off their phones as much as possible? It’s not just about regurgitating songs you’ve had success with, if they don’t think you’re going 110 percent the whole time then it’s not captivating enough.”

In which case, prepare to be captivated, because this six-piece bundle of energy are here to close out the city’s biggest music festival – and it’s promising to be a run-through of some absolute belters.
From Dhs350. Fri Jan 28. Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, www.800tickets.com.

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