Posted by: englishdubai | February 12, 2011

Would you like some Cheese with your Wine?


There is so much to love about winter weekends in Dubai. There are lots of out door festivals, al fresco dining and concerts. So when I was invited to a birthday brunch at the recently opened Chi’Zen restaurant at Dubai Festival City there could be no better aperitif than going to see Amy Winehouse later that evening at the same complex, or so I thought.

After a relaxing afternoon in sun, sampling a very delicious range of  Dim Sum we head over to the concert. It is events like this that remind me just how many Brits there in Dubai – the ten thousand plus crowd mostly appeared to come from the green and pleasant land. There was also a noticeable lack of “teeny boppers” with Amy attracting an older crowd. Perfect I will be able to relax without any screaming in my ear.

As usual with concerts in Dubai the queue for beverages was ridiculous and food overpriced – but I have come to expect to this so it provided a little distraction as we waited for the gig to start. Once suitably stocked up we looked for spot to stand only to be left a little disappointed that the viewing was restricted by us with the “cheap seats” (300aed/$81) by a huge sound/lightening/camera setup in the “front of house position” forcing the crowd into a relative narrow viewing angle either side of it. But as it turned out I am glad I did not spring the extra 200aed for the “Golden Circle” or even an extra 700aed for the Back to Black Lounge (two small platforms slightly elevated over the crowd set at an oblique angle).

Soon enough Amy Winehouse entered the stage to what I would call polite applause. On first impressions she looked surprisingly well :

Big Hair – check

Tattoos on display – check

Trademark eye make up – check

Then she started singing, or at least I think she did. We simply couldn’t hear the first song. Her voice faded in and out and it was all a bit strange. For the first couple of songs it felt as if there had been a mess up with the sound mixing or there was an issue with her microphone. She looked increasingly anxious fiddling with her in ear monitors and often scratching at her arm. You could see her talking to various members of the band and almost looked embarrassed at one point. The first three of four songs continued in this vein and each was greeted with resounding boos from the crowd. People were in a state of disbelief as they looked and commented to each other about what they were witnessing. The poor phone networks were getting a battering as by the end of the first song nearly everyone was lighting up the social networks telling the world that Amy was choking on stage.

My initial thoughts that there was an issue with sound mixing were wrong, as after the fifth song when Amy left the stage leaving the backup singers to entertain the miserable crowd and in their defence they belted out a couple of cracking tracks but all too little too late.

When Amy came back it was a little better – you could kind of hear here this time, and the crowd did their best to sing-a-long to “Valerie” and “Rehab’ but I admit – I preferred the versions that we do at my sing star parties.

Spotify have this to say about Amy Winehouse:

“Much can be said about Amy Winehouse, one of the UK’s flagship vocalists during the 2000s. The British press and tabloids seemed to focus on her rowdy behaviour and heavy consumption of alcohol, but fans and critics alike embraced her rugged charm, brash sense of humour, and distinctively soulful and jazzy vocals.”

I think the British press have it right and I rued the lack of the soulful and jazzy vocal last night. Such a shame for her and the crowd. There have been great gigs in the UAE for example Justin Timberlake, Prince and The Killers this was just such a let down. Still, next week it is the Jazz Festival with Macy Gray, Alison Moyet and Train all lined up to play, then in March there is Usher, 30 Seconds to Mars and Stevie Wonder – I will be at some of these for sure and Amy hasn’t dulled my interest for live music.

Overall – 1/10 – The one mark was for socializing, as it was nice to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen for sometime down at the gig but it was really just a dismal concert . It left me wishing I had gone to Abu Dhabi to see Mr Eric Clapton work his guitar like the magician he is.


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