Fun fact: Chesney Hawkes may be best known for his 1991 hit single, but more recently he became The One and Only ’90s pop star drafted into this year’s Warcraft movie. Sadly, he didn’t make the film’s final cut. If you’re gutted you didn’t spot him in full Medieval get-up in the Duncan Jones-directed flop, however, you’ll have a chance to catch him right here in Dubai, in the flesh, next month.
On Friday September 2, get ready to brunch with a side order of nostalgia as Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre hosts its first-ever Wow That’s What I Call Brunch. Headlining the retro day out is none other than Chesney Hawkes himself, alongside fellow ’90s sensations Rozalla (Everybody’s Free) and No Mercy (Where Do You Go).
This year marks the 25th anniversary of Hawkes’ biggest hit, The One and Only, and he’s just finished a tour of the UK to celebrate the occasion. “I was just going to do one big one, and a have a big celebration,” he says, “but I’ve been making it a tour so I can get out to different places.” Even now, Hawkes is amazed to see the same faces turning up to see him.
“These gigs have been funny because my fans back in 1991 were mainly teenage girls, and now they’re middle-aged mums with kids. It’s amazing to see them still stick with me after all these years.”
Back when the song was first released, the Brit singer-songwriter (and occasional actor) had no idea that it would become such an anthem. He’d just turned 19 when the song topped the UK charts, and spent five weeks at number one. “I just thought, ‘Oh great, so this is what happens when you put records out. I had no thoughts about still performing it 25 years later. It really does have a life of its own, that song. I don’t think it’s mine any more.”
It was The One and Only that led Hawkes to film that ill-fated scene in Warcraft. “Duncan Jones, the director, made a film called Moon about six years ago, and used The One and Only on an alarm clock. We became Twitter buddies after that, and I recorded a song for his next film, Source Code. When he did Warcraft, he actually got me to dress up as a Medieval bard and sing a song with a lute.”
The 2016 movie isn’t the first film Hawkes has found his way onto the set of – in the same year The One and Only hit the number one spot, he starred alongside Roger Daltrey as the titular character in Buddy’s Song. But the 44-year-old is most content in the recording studio. He’s currently working on a new album, “slowly but surely”, but when he’s not working on pieces for himself, his time is spent with up-and-coming artists – writing for, producing and mentoring them.
As for next month’s brunch gig, Hawkes is as excited to be here in the city as he is to perform. “There’s so much to do in Dubai. It’s going to be quite a party set, but I’ll throw in a few new songs as well,” he teases.
“I’ll play The One and Only, of course.” Leave the lute at home, perhaps.
Dhs495. Fri Sep 2, brunch 1pm-4pm, happy hour until 7pm. Great Ballroom, Le Méridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Centre, Garhoud (04 702 2455).