Abu Dhabi: Despite serpentine queues, heavy traffic and a long wait for those who had chosen to arrive at the venue early, the launch event of Abu Dhabi hosting the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race — and the capital's main New Year's Eve party — was a resounding success.
Walking amongst the 20,000-odd concert goers as they crossed from the city to the purpose-built arena, Destination Village, behind Marina Mall, one could see that the crowds had come prepared for cold weather — some, going by Coldplay's previous visit to the UAE, were even prepared for rain. But, the evening was, instead, characterised by the warmth of the group and its entourage.
The audience lapped up the dazzling laser show, the sophisticated giant screen graphics, the glitter, smoke and giant balloons that pervaded the arena.
The show was interspersed with short bursts of fireworks. It culminated with another magnificent fireworks display on the Corniche.
Listening intently to a mix of Coldplay favourites, some from their most recent album, the lively crowd got into the spirit of the evening thoroughly and swayed on their feet for most part of the concert.
There was much screaming, cheering and applause as this top-notch rock band showed why they are renowned for their hardcore concert-style entertainment.
With a digital countdown to the start of 2012, the final song, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, got under way to tumultuous applause.
After the Coldplay members left the stage some 20 minutes into the New Year to celebrate with their families, some of whom are resident in the UAE, those remaining in the audience were treated to a live DJ whose eclectic tunes ensured the party was on until 1am.
"This is one of the most memorable New Year's Eve celebrations," Daniel Gottlieb, a British student visiting his dad in the UAE for Christmas, said. "It was great to be part of an audience with such a diverse cultural background. I celebrated the start of 2012 surrounded by people from every continent, listening to great music. It was really special. Thanks, Abu Dhabi," he said.
Once inside the security barriers, the audience had access to a well-organised array of food and drink outlets. Although the grandstand was several hundred metres back from the stage, visibility was excellent. Flash Entertainment, the concert's promoters, provided Abu Dhabi with an evening to remember — and an excellent start to the New Year.