(Written Nov. 2008)
Ok, I’m writing this review purely stream of consciousness, no rough draft as I usual do. I wanted to get this out without procrastinating much longer. Otherwise, it probably would not get out anytime soon. I’m truly living on the edge. 8-)
This was my first musical festival and probably a good one to begin with; fairly laid back.
The Wailers played in addition to other bands (local and otherwise) and the Wailers were great. I enjoyed Dubai, I like cities and Dubai is a contrast to the laidback and fairly rural Oman.
The crowd was fairly diverse, but Dubai is overwhelmingly British and there were many Brits in attendance at the show. So far, I think it was the closes I have come to seeing a Weller gig in Britain without going to Britain. Weller said as much himself. After his opening tune Peacock Suit he remarked, “Well, isn’t this different? It’s like being in the U.K., but only hotter.” Everyone laughed at this. Weller was in a great mood.
Earlier in the day, I was on my way to the venue and I asked a woman in front of the mall adjacent to the festival grounds how to get to the entrance. She pointed me in the right direction and we began chatting. She resided in Dubai, was originally from the U.K. and she had never seen Weller perform and she was psyched. She told me that Weller was not coming onto 11 P.M. She had been to the grounds earlier because students of hers were performing at the festival and she spoke with Weller’s crew that morning at the sound check. She also said that Weller arrived in Dubai the previous evening completely drunk. How come I wasn’t surprised. Weller doesn’t enjoying flying and he usually gets pissed when he does, right? So, an 11 P.M. start it was only 3:30 P.M. So I bid my time around Dubai. I eventually made my way to the grounds and I bumped into this lady again and her entourage. I ended up hangin' with her and her friends at the show and it made for an enjoyable evening.
For the show, I worked my way to the front of the stage. I was directly in front of Weller. Just like I was for the Osaka show two years prior. Sara, the woman I had met became friends with one of the roadies and they were texting back in forth. He said that Weller was returning to the U.K. right after the show and his plane departed at 2 A.M. so the show was going to get started around 10:30. This worked for me because my flight was at 3 A.M.
The group Kassav that performed before Weller ended at 9:55. Weller’s crew set up his equipment in no time, but they spent a good 25 minutes getting the sound just right. Talk about being meticulous. I think it got to the point that even Weller and the boys were ready to get things started because as soon as the last mic was adjusted just right, Weller and the boys just walked on stage. No introduction, no fanfare, nothing. I think it surprised a lot of people. They just walked out and tore into Peacock Suit;
Weller was on a mission. At first, it seemed like they were in a hurry to get out of there, but I think it was just boundless energy that Weller is known to have. I can’t remember the last time he was so animated. He cracked jokes the whole evening, beginning with the Dubai opener I previously mentioned. He was chain smoking like a fiend and he was moving and grooving the whole time. He was truly on fire.
During 22 Dreams, the people around me claimed that Weller pointed at me and the Weller t-shirt that I was wearing, but I’m sure that he was pointing to the cute woman next to me, being the mack that he is. I had a family with their 4 yr. old kid next to me and there was a another kid next to him. I was chatting up the parents and this was their son’s first show. The crowd was into it. After every song people would yell Roger’s (the guitar tech’s name. I think Roger has quite a fan base in Dubai. When Weller played Jam or TSC tunes, the place erupted. But, the crowd also knew the new LP 22 Dreams album as well. I missed seeing Whitey (Steve White. Weller's usually drummer who has been with for over 20 years) behind the kit, but the drummer Weller has touring with him is something else. I dig his energy. With all of his hair he kind of reminds me of Animal from Jim Henson’s Muppets. The whole band was on fire. I loved Weller's stripped down version of Wildwood. He was truly in his own little world just grooving to the music; enjoying himself. It looked like pure joy. I tell you, seeing Weller perform live is such a treat and a joy. I sang the entire show, I had a wonderful time. Weller played one encore and he was off promptly at 12 A.M. Roger pointed to someone and made a plane gesture. Someone in jest suggested that I get a ride to the airport with Weller, but I took my luck getting a cab which took some doing.
All in all the show was great! It was well worth the effort. Unfortunately, I did not get to meet Paul again or hang out backstage like last time in Japan, but I was able to secure a playlist. There was a photographer shooting pics of Weller and the band throughout the show and for some reason he took a liking to me. I asked him for a set list during the show and he kindly gave it to me.
The love affair with P.W. continues. Below is the set list from the Dubai gig.