Amy Winehouse performs during the Gulf Bike Week at Festival City in Dubai. Image Credit: Karen Dias/Gulf News

Dubai: Amy Winehouse’s concert will likely go down in history as one of the most sober musical events ever to take place in Dubai.

Winehouse's performance on Friday was far from fervent as the Grammy Award winner failed to impress fans and concertgoers alike.

Erected in a concrete parking lot at Festival City with neon lights and a towering ferris wheel in the background, the concert venue had somewhat of a circus feel to it and a post-rehab Winehouse eventually appeared in the centre of the ring, like a caged lion barely bothered to roar at the crowd.

She started the show with tracks from her two albums Frank and Back to Black and from the onset, seemed visibly bored as she twirled her hair, stared into space and even picked at her fingernails while singing.

After several songs she finally addressed the crowd asking: “How you doing Dubai, ‘arite?” It was clear from the boos that many were not.

But the mood managed to change slightly after she introduced her band and the tracks, Valarie and You Know I’m No Good, even got most of the audience dancing for the first time during the night. Nevertheless, Winehouse remained strangely aloof throughout the rest of the set.

To say she gave a half-hearted performance would be an understatement.

Just starting to perform live again after several years of battling a string of personal problems, there are bound to be some kinks to work out as the singer returns to top form.
And while there were some hints of why she is one of the world’s most talented artists, the boos her half-hearted performance generated drowned it all out.

“I think she’s gone from bad to worse,” said Sybil Hyde, one of many attendees who were leaving the venue halfway through. “She should come back in a year and perform for free, come back clean, and everyone who has tickets for tonight should be able to come.”

Like many others at the gig, Hyde also noticed that the cameraman for the big screen kept cutting away from Amy to her bandmates.

“I didn’t pay Dh300 to see that guy’s feet,” she said, gesturing to the screen which was focused on the band’s shoes.

“I don’t even blame it all on her. The sound is terrible, it keeps fading in and out. And the organisation was disgraceful, such as the queues for the drinks,” said one concert-goer who identified herself as Podge. “I don’t know if she’s scared or if she’s drugged.”

Responding to tabloid!’s request for comment, Thomas Ovesen, the chief operating officer of Done Events, the organiser, said: “Whenever Amy Winehouse performs the news media re-writes her career and speculation is rife about what her life is like at the moment. If any of her fans were disappointed I am sure she will be the one the most disappointed.”

“All we can do is set up the production and accommodate the fans and then hope she delivers a show the fans will like — if you pay to attend you have a right to review and even dislike her show and that is the nature of live entertainment,” he added.

“When you attend an Amy Winehouse concert I would assume most people don’t really know what to expect. So as she performed all her hits, did a longer set than anticipated and didn’t run off half way through I think she has delivered on most fronts. But it will be her fans that will have to decide on that.”
Review: Amy's 'bored' performance in Dubai

When I first heard Amy Winehouse was set to perform in Dubai I thought, now there's one performance worth seeing, but alas; much to my disappointment it was not worth the petrol price it cost to drive to the Dubai Festival City venue.

To call it a lazy performance would be an understatement. Yes ok, we all know she's had her fair share of ups and downs in recent years, but seriously, picking the dirt from under your fingernails mid-song is really not the best way to win over a crowd, Amy.

Met with a mixture of cheers and heckles – when she randomly disappeared offstage for a few minutes; she managed to deliver barely an hour's medley of her famous hits including: Rehab, Back to Black and the more up tempo, Valerie. However, I can honestly say I have more fun singing along to them in my car.

The performance seemed more like a rehearsal than a concert as she kept stopping mid tune to whisper playfully to her band mates.

"How you doing Dubai, arite?" was the totality of her engagement with the crowd as she continued to deliver a performance more suited for the bathroom mirror. 

Looking much healthier than past tabloid newspaper appearances, the little lady with a big voice still seemed to not be all there. During her rendition of You know I'm no good, she seemed to either forget her lines or simply not care that she skipped a few.

Yet, some concert goers thought she was “amazing” while others thought her bored, can't-be-bothered performance to be all part of the Wino charm. I simply, don't agree.

Reviewed by Rania Moussly, Staff Reporter

Have your say
Were you at the concert? What did you think of Amy's performance? Share your views with us by clicking on the "Post a comment" link below.