Another one bites the dust

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It wasn’t as bad as this Rihanna concert, but Muse succumbed to the same syndrome a lot of these A- list players do: “*It’s a captive audience of idiots who live in the desert and have too much money – why would we get out our A game?*”

Well, for starters because we paid a an arm and a leg to come see you, and just because we don’t live in New York doesn’t mean we’re hicks.

And second, because it’s starting to show. Jay-Z is a top notch entertainer. I really can’t stand his music, but he’s an absolute pro at interacting with his public. The result? the largest audience my wife’s ever seen at Du Arena, and she had a blast even though she didn’t know his act. Muse, on the other hand, was the highest exodus of spectators we’ve ever seen at a concert here. despite the -admittedly impressive – pyrotechnics; I could’ve put the radio on a bit loud in my garden, and it would’ve been exactly the same – nice background music to have a chat with friends.

My theory is that, contrary to other venues, Abu Dhabi and Dubai probably offer very attractive packages to artists to perform – as an incentive to come to these untested waters. I’d bet they guarantee revenue even if attendance is low, or something like this. And some performers probably see this as an excuse to give a “relaxing” gig. The Grand Prix probably skews this even more, with the promise of a captive audience.

What I don’t get is how, in an age where album sales are increasingly irrelevant, and notoriety is built on interaction, bands can continue to take this short sighted view of things.

That said, judging from yesterday nights twitter feed, the die hard fans where really happy. But the fact that – arriving late – I managed to walk up with no effort to the middle of the stadium tells a different story: even Abu Dhabi fans are starting to tire of being fooled.

Here’s to hoping tonight’s Dépêche Mode concert is better.

A first post on concerts in Abu Dhabi

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Abu Dhabi rarely plays host to A-list artists at the top of their game. We tend to get big names that are definitely on the downward leg of their careers, or finding a second wind.

In some cases, it works really well. When Prince played the closing Formula 1 concert in 2010, it was one of the best performance I’ve ever seen, period. Madonna didn’t stint either on her show. She was 3 hours late, but she gave her usual polished, professional appearance. Sade is another case inpoint: a clear has-been, she was playing with no pressure, obviously enjoying herself and giving us – pretty unexpectedly – a great time.

But then you have the others. Those who so obviously come for the check it’s painful. Three come to mind in particular: Sting, Shakira, and tonight, Rihana. They don’t even pretend to be their to entertain, and they certainly bring no polish nor professionalism to their performance. It’s their job, and they’re phoning it in. It’s insulting to the audience, and it’s demeaning to them. It assumes that we’re so starved for culture that we’ll buy tickets to anything. It may be true, but it’s no reason to give half baked performances.