Richard Ashcroft in Dubai

Former Verve frontman talks to Time Out about Sandance


Richard Ashcroft
The British singer-songwriter and ex-Verve frontman tells Chris Anderson what fans can expect from his set
Sandance traditionally consists of big-name dance acts, so it’s a surprise to see 40-year-old Richard Ashcroft on the bill. Known as the writer of ’90s chart anthems ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ and ‘The Drugs Don’t Work’ during his time with The Verve, Ashcroft believes it is these back-catalogue hits that ensure he sits well alongside the rest of the line-up.

‘One of the last things I did was a benefit for the disaster in Japan at London’s Brixton Academy,’ he explains. ‘I came on with my acoustic guitar and started singing “Lucky Man”, and the whole place sang it with me, and it was, like, “wow”. When your songs have literally gone into the pores of the country… that’s when someone like me can stand alongside a dance act and create that euphoric feeling.’

Fans at Nasimi can expect to hear a mix of well-known Verve classics; Ashcroft also plans to showcase some of his later solo material at the gig, which will mark his first visit to Dubai. ‘Has the crisis hit there yet?’ he asks. ‘Are the cranes still on the horizon?’ He jokes about his preconceptions. ‘I suppose “keeping up with the Joneses” there is a bit like, “Oh, you’ve got the Bugatti in silver? I’m going to get it in gold.”’

But for Ashcroft, the serious side to everything is always the music. ‘How is Dubai’s music scene going to grow?’ he muses. ‘Now that’s going to be interesting. What is it the kids are listening to? What are they making? What is Dubai getting ready to say to the rest of the world? That’s the kind of thing I think about when I see a city like Dubai and the way it’s grown.’

His visit will only span a few days before he heads back to the UK to continue working on new material, which looks set to tap back into the classic, timeless Urban Hymns he became famous for writing in the mid ’90s. ‘I’m the guy who turned up in the village, sat under a tree, the people gathered round and I sang some tunes,’ he says. ‘Then they dropped money in my cap and I moved on to the next place – that’s who I am and that’s what I’ll be doing in Dubai. I just won’t have a cap.’

Sandance essential acts click here to view

The lowdown

All your Sandance questions answered.
What time should I go?
The 12-hour beach party kicks off at 2pm on Friday October 14 and runs until 2am. We’d recommend getting there by 4pm to nab the best spot on the beach. The first international act, Richard Ashcroft, is anticipated to take to the stage at around 5.30pm.

What kind of food will be available?
There will be stalls on the beach selling shawarmas, noodles, pizza, burgers, hot dogs, Caesar salads and fruit, and all will be Dhs40 each (although this is a music festival, so don’t expect haute cuisine).

How much will drinks cost?
Prices will start at Dhs35, and there will be a basic variety available.

Should I take a towel?
You can if you like, but if you don’t want the hassle, there will be towels available to hire for Dhs10 for the day.

Will there be plenty of toilets?
There will be three different ladies’ toilet areas, with a total of 54 cubicles, and two men’s, with a total of 44. VIP areas have separate facilities.

Is there disabled access?
Yes, but only to the VIP platform.

How much do tickets cost?
Regular tickets are Dhs200 in advance from, or Dhs250 on the door; VIP tickets are Dhs350. For VIP table packages, call 055 200 4321. The event is for over 21s only. A door policy will apply, with couples and mixed groups receiving preference. Sandance room packages start from Dhs1,595, including two event tickets, a stay at Atlantis and breakfast for two.
For info, call 04 426 0000.

Sandance essential acts click here to view

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