With Florence and the Machine and Keane as headliners, we take a look at how organisers got this line-up right.
A bittersweet occasion. The event, held at the Atlantis Beach in Atlantis, The Palm, is often the bell-weather when it comes to the UAE music scene. It is always the first festival off the ranks announcing summer has begun and it's the last party of the season. Running less than three years, the festival grew in reputation and profile with varied line-ups reflecting Dubai's rapidly changing musical landscape. Where once the festival acted as a rather raucous backing track to a Friday brunch, the event moved on to finally establishing itself as a modern and forward-thinking music festival. Friday's line-up is its most contemporary one yet, with a fair bit of Hollywood glamour added into the mix as well.
Present and past sounds will share the stage, in addition to a few local favourites. The artists on everyone's lips are the indie-group Florence and The Machine and the piano-led English pop-rockers Keane. On the dance front, the UK's Groove Armada will return, in addition to the influential 1990s electronic act Nightmares on Wax. The biggest surprise, however, is an artist from a different medium. Fresh from his Emmy Award-winning turn in the crime series Luther and the blockbusters Prometheus, the British actor Idris Elba will hit the decks and showcase his burgeoning career as a rapper and DJ.
They are classified as a group but in reality, Florence and the Machine are really a dynamic duo: the singer Florence Welch and the keyboardist and co-songwriter Isabella "Machine" Summers. Over two albums, 2009's Lungs and 2011's Ceremonials, the group built a rabid following, mixing pop nous with ethereal sonic settings. Ceremonials was their breakout release with singles Shake It Out and Spectrum (Say My Name) riding high on the charts. While their set may lack distinctive anthems, their show is renowned for its classic feel, with previous concerts having Welch first appearing on stage as a silhouette behind a white curtain.
A key element of Sandance is the sunset singalong. Artists ranging from The Fray to Pete Murray were tasked with coaxing the best voices from the crowd. Providing the last lot of anthems for the season are Keane. The English group have notched up half a dozen hits over four albums including Somewhere Only We Know and Everybody's Changing. Hopefully, the speakers will overpower the crowd interaction as singer Tom Chaplin's quivering voice is indeed a highlight.
For the clubbers
Sandance always features a strong dance music programme with previous headliners including Basement Jaxx and Armand Van Helden. This time around sees the return of Groove Armada. The London duo are renowned party starters and he sees them returning to sounds of old with a more house-influenced live set. Of course, their ubiquitous I See You Baby and Superstylin' will surely get a mention. Meanwhile, Nightmares on Wax's Dubai performance should be warmly greeted, considering they have the ability to disappear from the live circuit years at a time. Their set will be a welcome reminder of the early 1990s where acid house and trip-hop was an acquired taste. Those missing out on tickets to the sold-out event can now enter the venue from 11pm for Dh150 to check out Groove Armada's sets and beyond.
From playing a drug dealer in the hit television series The Wire to Nelson Mandela in a forthcoming biopic, Idris Elba's chameleon talents also extend to the music field with his rising profile as rapper and DJ. Elba is not another cash-rich celebrity using DJing to remain in the limelight. The English actor began experimenting with hip-hop and Djing from 2001, releasing two extended players and appearing on video clips with rapper mates Fat Joe and Busta Rhymes. Look out for some potential free-style raps among his musical selections.
Sandance is on Friday at Atlantis Beach at Atlantis, The Palm, from 3pm to 3am. Tickets are sold out with Dh150 entry is available at the door from 11pm
Pace yourself. Here are the announced set times
3pm Sunshine Sounds
5.30pm Nightmares on Wax
8.30 Idris Elba
9.30 Florence and The Machine
11pm Groove Armada
12.30 Jonathan Ulysses
2.30am Smoking Groove
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