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Review: Chemical Brothers give Abu Dhabi a music and visual treat

Famed electronic music pioneers rock out the du Arena as part of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after-race concert series

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
Chemical Brothers performing after the formula one race at the Du Arena in Yas Island Abu Dhabi on 25th November 2016.

Thousands of fans danced to electronic music maestro band Chemical Brothers’ much awaited debut performance in the UAE on Friday night at the du Arena on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island as part of the F1 after race concerts.

Arriving on stage at 9.30pm, approximately an hour-and-a-half after the expected start of their show, Chemical Brothers made it up to the waiting audience by starting with one of their most energetic tracks Hey Boy, Hey Girl, featuring the spectacular visualisations that their concerts are known for.

Visualisations, essential in concerts where the artist isn’t putting up a dance performance, kept the crowd captivated throughout the show by synching superbly with the duo’s beats and with unique visualisations playing with each track on three screens including a giant central screen and two side screens. The most stunning visualisations were of course left for their classic tracks such as Galvanize, which played close to the end of the show to a rapturous audience. Other tracks that got the audience grooving were Swoon and Escape Velocity. Halfway through the concert, giant balloons were dropped on the audience and bounced around for several tracks, adding to the brilliant visual experience.

As is common with concerts nowadays, views of the stage were often obscured by the presence of thousands of hands holding smartphones to record their favourite tracks. The presence of screens went a long way in making up for that. A major annoyance however was the excessive use of smoke machines. The machines were placed very close to the audience and continuously blew out smoke throughout the evening, often multiple times per track, leading many in the audience to breathe through their shirts. Certainly not what a fan wants to see in a concert.

Given the event’s size, its organisation was quite impressive. Long queues that one dreads joining appeared to clear fast and smoothly at ticket counters, entrances and the bars. The only downside was that none of the retail outlets accepted card payments. While that may have contributed to the fast processing of orders that kept the queues moving, it led to 45-minute queues at the two ATM machines available.

Dubai-based duo Arcade 82 had the privilege of opening a respectable act for Chemical Brothers, showing off promising musical abilities in the same genre.