No matter what side of the debate you fall on, a new Coldplay album is still a monumental event on a music calendar. The release of their fifth opus on October 24, the curiously named Mylo Xyloto, was preceded by worldwide anticipation: it debuted at number one in more than 30 countries and quickly stormed the music charts across the globe, broke all prior records for the highest number of download sales in one week and cemented the rock band's status as music legends.
Yesterday's announcement that Chris Martin and company will help Abu Dhabi usher in the New Year on December 31 was also big news for the UAE, no matter how many indie band-loving eyes were rolling.
No matter that they performed nearly three years ago in the gardens of the Emirates Palace to a crowd of some 20,000 fans in a cool March 2009 rainstorm.
Yesterday, the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Flash Entertainment confirmed that the seven-time Grammy award-winners will headline a New Year's Eve concert as a curtain-raiser to the 2011/2011 Volvo Ocean Race, the gruelling round-the-world yacht race dubbed the "Everest of sailing" and expected to arrive into the capital's port from Cape Town on January 1.
The concert will take place in a unique venue – Destination Village – which will be erected on the Corniche's Breakwater, near Marina Mall and adjacent to the Volvo fleet, that will dock there until January 14.
Despite mixed reviews of Mylo Xyloto – The National gave it a three stars out of five rating last month – all the shows on the band's continuing European tour have been completely sold out.
Their concert in Abu Dhabi is expected to be equally as popular; the torrential rain and sudden lightning and thunderstorm that punctuated their Abu Dhabi concert of two years ago did nothing to diminish its reception.
Fans of the event, which was, unsurprisingly, sold out, were undeterred by the weather and delighted at Chris Martin's impromptu versions of Singin' in the Rain and Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head. He even changed the lyrics of his song Fix You to mention the downpour.
"That's what is just so great about Coldplay," said Linda Saleem, 32, who was never happier to be rained on than she was in that debut UAE concert two years ago. "Even if you're not a huge fan of their music, you can't deny that they're electric live; they have the best concerts."
Upon hearing about the New Year's Eve show yesterday, Saleem was already planning to buy tickets to the next show.
If Martin's self-deprecating humour and connection with the crowd is as alive and kicking as it was in 2009 - he sent them into squeals of delight every time he thanked them for braving the rain or apologised for his lack of Arabic - then the New Year's Eve bash will be memorable.
International sporting events such as the Volvo Ocean Race and the annual Formula One Grand Prix on Yas Island are credited for bringing an assortment of top acts out to Abu Dhabi's stages. This month, the capital has had performances by Sir Paul McCartney, Britney Spears and Incubus on Yas Island's Yas Arena, not to mention the plethora of international acts that lit up the Abu Dhabi Corniche. Also this month, Dubai has had performances by Nancy Ajram, Taio Cruz and The Script.