Natalie Cole appeared before her Dubai audience with all the glamour one could imagine from the Grammy-award winning singer. And it was not unexpected that she would give her fans a good show. For those who were listening to her for the first time, however, what was not as expected was the degree to which her funky jazzy musical prowess would come to the fore. But as Cole, the daughter of the late jazz legend Nat “King” Cole, glided out onto the stage at Dubai Media City amphitheatre last night for the du World Music Festival, it was evident the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
And her audience, soaking in the balmy spring evening, was enthralled. “It’s nice to see you, it’s nice to be seen,” purred the singer, now in her sixties, as she appeared wearing a long black dress with sparkling Arabic writing, which she said was made especially for the occasion. “The dress has writings from the 13th century Arabic poet Rumi,” she said, calling him the Shakespeare of Persia. “They are all about love,” added Cole, as she proudly showed off her glittering gown.She then walked down to the edge of the stage to be closer to the audience, to the delight of her fans, who jumped up to get pictures of her as she sang a rendition of the Frank Sinatra song, The Best is Yet to Come.
Cole, after introducing her seven-member band, launched into jazz classic after jazz classic, including her personal touch of her father’s famous song Route 66. Singing into a microphone that looked like it was adorned with diamonds, she also sang Smile though your Heart is Aching, Mike Franks Tell Me All About it and the tune Que Sas from her new album, which is all in Spanish.
Other bands of the evening included the Australian jazz-fusion guitarist, Frank Gambale, Indian drummer Ranjit Barot and blues rock Indian band Soulmate. The latter, which stood particularly out, garnered shouts of excitement from the audience when the front singer, Tipriti, belted out tune after tune of mesmerizingly haunting songs from their two albums, Shillong and Moving On.
German tourist Christine Shultz, who was in Dubai for a week’s vacation, said the event was unforgettable.“I love this band, the singer is amazing,” she said about Tiptriti. Ms Shultz added: “Natalie Cole was on fire right from the start. I love the fact that she walked right down to the audience, which made the concert very intimate from the beginning. She’s such a legend.”