Nearly 15 years on the road across the US and practically every corner of the globe, has seen Cali-pop rockers OneRepublic pretty much master the arena rock routine.
Big screen visuals, rock cello, lasers and a beautiful rendition of a Beyoncé classic made this a gig deserving of its place as the closing night of this year’s Dubai Jazz Festival, with nights one and two seeing Lauryn Hill and Lionel Richie headline spectacularly (and setting a high bar, at that).Ryan Tedder and co. had already promised us that their return to Dubai some seven years since last headlining the same festival would be “better, a lot better”, and they duly delivered a run-through of their biggest and best hits, despite an 11th hour sickness bug that threatened lead singer’s Tedder’s throat and singing voice.
“I’ve been very sick the last few days,” Tedder began, having posting on Instagram that he had a voice like charcoal just two hours before the show. “I lost my voice, and some beautiful Dubai doctors got me better and singing again,” he said before going into the band’s most recent hit, Rescue Me.The night’s most poignant moment paid tribute to the late Kobe Bryant, as Tedder performed a stunning solo performance of Beyoncé hit Halo - and surprised many by revealing that he actually wrote the song. It was a touching moment, and one that he rose for magnificently on vocals and piano. “I warn you, I won’t perform this like Beyoncé did last week!” he joked beforehand, before leaving most inside the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre literally stunned into silence.
Other big moments saw the band’s roadies and crew come on stage for an 11-man cover of Wonderwall, while the band also reproduced another Tedder-original: The Jonas Brothers’ smash hit, Sucker.
Apologize (the real version, NOT the Timbaland remaster), as you’d expect drew one of the biggest cheers of the night, but this gig didn’t feel like the crowd was waiting for one song, the majority of tracks are met with huge cheers including massive hits Love Runs Out, Counting Stars, set-closer If I Lose Myself and Stop and Stare, which Tedder said was written for the people of Dubai about the people of Dubai.
Their fame is objectively massive, too, almost deceptively so for a bunch of guys who don’t come across as global rockstars - though frontman Tedder does leap across the stage with swagger, gusto and a pacy breathlessness that’s surely fraught with danger for a man whose living relies on hitting some dauntingly high falsetto notes (note: he doesn’t miss a single one).“
My doctor’s in my ear saying that we should probably leave, but I’m feeling better now,” he beamed, shortly before the band left the stage.
As a bunch of real, multi-talented musicians, it’s so refreshing to see every drop of sound being produced right in front of your very eyes - including some pretty hardcore rock cello action. There are no backing tracks, no pre-recorded lines that they can’t figure out how to reproduce live, just pure, world-class musicianship.
It’s all completely live, and that’s the point, isn’t it?
This was a 90-minute set stuffed to the rafters with wall-to-wall hits, slower, more intimate moments, and the full oomph you get from modern day arena rock.
And OneRepublic are welcome back here anytime for more of the same.