Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Of Killers, shisha and 70-degree weather in December

Last night was the second concert I have attended in Abu Dhabi, stops in the lairs of various cover bands notwithstanding: The Killers, stopping by at the end of a world tour.

I wouldn't describe myself as a massive fan of the band, but let me tell you why it was a great show.

The thing about going to a concert in Abu Dhabi is that most of the crowd--say four-fifths--are there just because it's a concert in Abu Dhabi. They probably know the band's hit singles, but don't celebrate the band's entire catalog.

As a result, pretty much any band is walking uphill when it comes to getting the crowd involved. Last night was no exception. The Killers came out with a lot of energy, flashing lights and oddball background videos, but the crowd seemed content to basically sway and clap. I did my part by waving my hands in the air in a manner that suggested I had no great personal stake in the situation's outcome.

But. The Killers are from Las Vegas, the home of showmanship, and frontman Brandon Flowers is a showman. Over the course of the evening--they played for at least an hour and a half--he cajoled more and more energy out of the crowd with sing-alongs and general onstage bounciness.

Somewhere between "quiet crowd" and "rocking crowd."

By the time the encore came around, everyone's hands were in the air. And they cared. The three-song extra set concluded with "When You Were Young," a fine song by itself, which was amplified by some serious pyrotechnics. Contrast that to Kings of Leon, who I like better as a band, but who, despite playing to a much bigger audience, basically just came out, strummed an hour of music and walked offstage.

So last night's show was beautiful. And then we walked through the extremely manicured and extremely enormous grounds of the Emirates Palace Hotel to its beach bar for shisha and post-concert cocktails...

... and were joined a half-hour later by the band, who sat at the next cabana over.

I have been struggling through this entire post not to make a pun on the band's name, and I'm not going to blow it now. Let's just say it was a ki... great night.

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