You’re going to think I’m a bit of a raver (which I’m not really), but at the weekend I went to my second concert in just over a week – this time, rewinding back yet another decade, all the way to the ’80s.
If you don’t remember the ’80s – and plenty of the girls at work claim not to (“It’s not my era,” said one PA, clearly born in about 1992) – it was a time when we thought stone-washed jeans, leg warmers, big hair and shoulder pads were seriously cool. I’m sure I recall sitting in the bath with my drainpipe jeans on, convinced this would shrink them even more.
But, among my friends and work colleagues, there are also those who, like me, remember the decade very well – and so we found ourselves hunting around online for discounted tickets to the ’80s concert (at 295dhs – £53 – a pop for the ‘pleb pit’, and 495dhs – £89 – for the golden circle, entrance wasn’t cheap).
After The Stone Roses the week before, it was a hard act to follow. The Stone Roses were proper Manchester cool, and you just couldn’t help but rock out under the stars. The 80s festival – featuring T’Pau, Heaven 17, ABC, Howard Jones and, ahem, Rick Astley – had a totally different, retro feel and, yes, there were people dressed up, in pink wigs and bad clothes.
DH dropped me off (flying later that night gave him a good excuse), and feeling a bit like the time traveller’s wife, I prepared myself to make the leap from the indie-filled ‘90s to the naff ‘80s.
I wasn’t disappointed. Years ago, I went to see T’Pau at Hammersmith arena and Carol Decker came on, coughed, and croaked: “I’ve got laryngitis, I can’t sing!’ We were all left in stunned silence as she ran off the stage and the lights came on (she did reschedule). This time around, she was a sweetheart, with a powerful voice that hit the high notes.
“Who lives in Dubai and who’s on holiday?” the flame-haired singer asked the audience (I swear she could pass for Sarah Ferguson). The response overwhelmingly suggested we were a bunch of (40-something) expats on the razzle. “No point plugging my UK dates then,” she conceded, before launching into China in Your Hand.
But the highlights for me – together with the dodgy lyrics on the ‘Lucky Voice’ karaoke we had to do – were Heaven 17’s rendition of Temptation and synth-pop trailblazer Howard Jones. In command of the keyboards (with an Apple Mac laptop perched on top, in case you’d forgotten what decade we were actually in), his songs really resonated.
I have to admit, I was never a Rick Astley fan, and couldn’t quite understand why everyone was so excited when he came on stage, with the words: “Get down, housewives!” I actually had to leave at this point, as once again DH was departing just after midnight, but I could see that you’d be forgiven for thinking he was singing directly at you.
And that, I realised, is the beauty of seeing bands in Dubai. It’s all on a much smaller-scale than in the UK or US, and so you feel very close to the stage and the acts themselves. Better still, you might even find yourself standing next to your favourite singer.
At The Stone Roses, Liam Gallagher, of Beady Eye, and Chris Martin, from Cold Play, were watching. A star-struck friend, just inches away from their VIP box, told me people were trying to take photos, and the singers’ kids helped by grabbing fans’ phones and taking close-ups of their dads.
Beat that, London’s O2 Arena, for letting the audience get up close and personal with super-star rockers. And as for the Dubai Rewind, if the number of teased-out mullets and muffin tops squeezed into spandex mini skirts was anything to go by, the night was a huge – and hilarious – success.