Toni Braxton performing at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium Image Credit: A.K Kallouche/Gulf News

The Dubai Tennis Stadium is a time-tested theatre that has welcomed on to its famous stage some of the greatest sportsmen and entertainers alike.

From tennis greats Roger Federer and Martina Hingis and boxing legend Chris Eubank to music icons Sting, Bryan Adams and Slash, the self-contained venue doubles as a thriving concert venue.

On Thursday evening, another major music artist was added to its ever-growing, list of great-looking; clientele — multiple Grammy Award-winning artist, Toni Braxton.

Take a deep breath, and read on.

The ‘Barionet of Soul’, whose unparalleled gospel-tinged tones gave sweet life to a stream of best-sellers like Spanish Guitar, Breathe Again and the monster hit Un-break My Heart, wowed the many Braxton worshippers and admirers through her two-hour long set.

Looking as fresh as a daisy, the singer who rose to fame in the early 1990s, shepherded the audience through her rich catalogue of songs during her much-anticipated one-night-only performance.

From the Diane Warren-written and David Foster-produced sultry starrer Un-Break My Heart, the lead single from her multi-platinum selling album, Secrets, to the Babyface gem, How Could An Angel Break My Heart, and Deadwood, the first single off her forthcoming album Sex & Cigarettes, Braxton was on top of her game.

To say that she still adores the spotlight, even after over three decades in the business, is very much in character with the charming Braxton. For unlike some other so-called divas she also talks a good talk in between numbers.

“I want to thank you beautiful people for spending the evening with me in this fantastic place. Dubai is one of the best cities in the world and Im so happy to be here tonight. I love you guys,” she crooned before barnstorming her way into yet another smash hit from her rich catalogue of sultry ballads.

Braxton truly enjoyed herself last night to the point that she even called on stage Dubai-based Filipino designer Furne One, to celebrate the radiating costume that he designed for the superstar.

It was one of many provocative ensembles that the curvaceous Braxton would show off on stage, one of them a daring mini=dress that she used to good effect when dancing with a male member from an audience outnumbered by swooning women.

But don’t let appearances, or the side-show fool you. Braxton was every inch the mega-selling songstress that she is even when strutting her stuff on the expansive stage that has rivebrated to the sounds of some of the top music acts in the business over the past two decades.

“I have some bad news,” Braxton shouted out after an hour belting out hit after hit. “We only have 20 minutes of the show remaining.

Waiting for the news to hit home she screamed, “But the good news is that we also have 20 minutes more!”

The venue was loaded with Braxton disciples and they responded with uninhibited delight as if they had just won the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprises jackpot.

Braxton has it all and she gave her all with breathtaking renditions of You Mean the World To Me and You’re Making Me High before breaking hundreds of hearts as she bid goodbye.

Only to return for an encore featuring a typically sultry Braxton staple, He Wasn’t Man Enough.

Watching her perform, up close and personal, was a unique experience. She voraciously fed of the crowd’s energy and delivered some good-natured fun.

It’s now official, Braxton is the definitive “Matriarch of Soul”.