The sun is just starting to set over a golden beach on which several thousand merry party goers are smiling, dancing and generally having an amazing time, whilst in the distance the mesmerising sights of the Atlantis hotel and Dubai Marina twinkle like unreal gems. An internationally acclaimed band are mid-set and we are looking forward to a big, very famous headliner safe in the knowledge that we are going to be able to get right to the front, almost within touching distance of said star, which is amazing considering that normally the amount paid for the ticket would see you stuck at the back of a huge stadium. And yet here we are dressed in board shorts, flip-flops and with a cool drink in hand, pushing sunglasses back on to our heads whilst we contemplate the rest of the evening’s entertainment.
A dream sequence? No. Rather a pretty accurate description of what it’s like to attend Sundance, the regular music event here in Dubai that sees some pretty huge acts strut their musical stuff for our pleasure on Nasimi beach out on the Palm, just in the shadows of the mighty Atlantis hotel (you know – the one that Kylie Minogue opened). I have, at the time of writing, now been to two of these events and loved both experiences, having seen Richard Ashcroft and Noel Gallagher perform at the first and, more recently, Keane and then Florence and the Machine, which was a truly epic gig. Imagine then my excitement at the announcement of October’s lineup…….. Of Monsters and Men and then, headlining….. The Killers!!!!! Yep, as in the huge, international superstars. Do I have tickets. Damn right I do! And I shall be at the front of that gig moshing like a little moshy monster.
There is something almost indescribably awesome about attending a great gig and even an act that you wouldn’t normally have claimed as being a fan of, as was the case with myself and Florence, can have you announcing yourself as a HUGE fan afterwards, such is the power of a great live performance. Keane surprised everyone I think and really opened the event perfectly, with some of their perhaps less well known tracks going down as well as the classics. The difference in the band compared to when they first hit the scene was clear as well, with a significantly slimmed down lead in the form of Tom Chaplin belting out great track after great track. Then came Florence and her formidable machine, for which a friend and I ventured to the very front for. In spite of some interesting encounters in the process (see below) Florence’s performance was as powerful, emotional and anthemic as I had been led to believe and I came away a new fan, promptly snapping up her back catalogue on iTunes.
As mentioned, there are always some interesting encounters at any gig and Sundance never disappoints, with a fair number of characters in attendance. Needless to say, when the beer doth flow, drama ensues and several of the happenings were indeed alcohol fueled – one of the many reasons I choose not to drink at the event and actually have more fun sober than I would tipsy. So, in no particular order, I shall regail you of some of the Sundance characters…
1. The Feral Kitten – things always a get a little tight shall we say at the very front of a mosh pit, with fans naturally wanting to get as close to the stage as they can. Tempers can start to flare, however, when people feel that it is reasonable to push their way in front of those who have been patient and waited, laying claim to their little piece of beach and understandably not wishing to step back and retreat from their hard-fought-for terra firma. Quite how some people think it’s acceptable to just push and shove their way past others in a bid to get in a position where someone else is actually physically already occupying the space amazes me – fair enough if space for a body exists but if you are going to actually have to displace another then do the decent thing and desist, or arrive earlier. We were stood near a group who had patiently waited at the front and had quite rightly taken exception to two girls showing their way past them. When politely challenged one of the said girls became really quite abusive and resembled one of the feral kittens we routinely see in the clinic. Full credit to the guy who laid down the challenge as he stood smiling at the torrent of foul-mouthed abuse sent cascading at him from Miss Kitty. Manners it seems is not something everyone possesses. I think she did end up with some guy’s sweaty armpit in her face for most of the gig so I guess Karma does exist.
2. Mr Tickle – I am all for having a great time at a gig, I really am. But it is not really socially acceptable to be THAT guy who sways, swings his arms and generally gets right up into everybody elses’ personal space, even when said personal space is significantly curtailed owing to where you are. Although harmless enough, Mr Tickle found his way into our small section of the crowd and proceeded to spend most of the gig flailing his arms around as though he were drowning and signalling desperately for the rescue helicopter. As for what the back of his head tasted like, I can think of at least three people who could now tell you. Thankfully he did eventually get the hint that his fellow revellers in his immediate locale did not enjoy his unique brand of active-celebration, and he promptly moved on, thus clearing the airspace and meaning that not only did my friend not have to endure his armpit but that our photos didn’t all feature Mr Tickle’s arms.
3. Super(Camp)Man – there was a guy directly behind us who was brilliant entertainment, not only as a result of his hilarious, slightly bitchy commentary before Florence’s performance but also for his incredibly cool yet cutting response to another rude crowd cutter who forced her way past and into our section of the crowd. She pushed past an older couple who had clearly been waiting for a while and were not wishing to give up their place in the crowd. When she then tried to drag her friends though she was stopped from doing so and when protests were voiced Mr Super(Camp)Man stepped in and in the kind of tone that a parent would use when chastising a naughty six year old, told Miss Pushy that she had two choices: to either stay put where she was on her own, or to go back to where she had come from and spend the remainder of the gig with her friends. In spite of some initial protest, the message was delivered in such a manner of authority and finality that she retreated tail between her legs and did, I think, actually apologise. Brilliant. Truly brilliant!
4. Captain Vodka – As an advert for how booze can make you look like a tit, Captain Vodka was champion. It is inevitable that where you have sunshine, a beach and liquor, people will feel compelled to indulge. Captain Vodka, it seemed, had drunk rather a lot of Russia’s favourite export and proceeded to do the other thing that drunk blokes do in the sun by removing his top. There seemed to be some drunken exchange between him and a girl in the crowd as before long she was having to be held back from literally lamping the guy, whilst his girlfriend tried her best to guide him out of the crowd and, hopefully, to his room to sleep off his excesses. In true booze hound style he did, of course, have to fall over first and ended up, in the process of trying to put his t-shirt back on, hitting the deck like a fallen tree. A reason to leave booze well alone if ever I saw one.
As already mentioned, the next Sundance is not until October but what a lineup to look forward to! Hopefully a few friends will be able to make it out for that one as well, as it is set to be an epic. Here’s to entertainment Dubai style.