By Ellen Fortini
I am quite willing to risk my rock chick cred in admitting that I think Air Supply put on a terrific show at Emirates Golf Course in Dubai this past Friday. These guys are fun. Most importantly, Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock clearly don’t take themselves too seriously. They know their place in music history and at this point in their 35-plus-year careers, they’re not trying to reinvent themselves. Their show was just pure soft rock love ballads with the lights of Dubai Marina as an elegant, urban backdrop.
Having grown up in the 1970s and 1980s I am quite familiar with Air Supply’s repertoire, though they’ve never been at the top of my MP3 playlist (but they are on it, many times over). So what makes a 40-year-old woman who lives for arena rock, southern rock and blues rock rave about arguably the antithesis of all of the above?
First, Air Supply know how to put on a powerful show. In its simplicity, the show was all about the music. In performing their 16-song set, Air Supply in fact paid tribute to both their fans and all those life experiences their fans have had to an Air Supply soundtrack: proms, weddings, road trips and holidays with “Lost in Love” and “Even the Nights Are Better” in the background.
Second, they played bona fide hits. There were a few songs I didn’t know, but I was in the minority. Each song, some decades old, was given its due moment of reverence. Plus, they indulged us more than once by letting us sing the chorus. And what’s more fun to sing along to than an Air Supply chorus?
Third, they involved the audience and even became the audience. During “Two Less Lonely People”, they both came into the crowd, singing, shaking hands, rubbing elbows with their fans. In doing so, we became part of their backup band (who, by the way, were incredibly hip, animated and probably not born when most of these songs were atop the charts).
Finally, “Sweet Dreams” absolutely ROCKED the house. Hard rock guitar solo and all.
After the two encores (“Making Love Out of Nothing At All” and “All Out of Love”), I was left thinking, how can anyone leave a concert uninspired after hearing the band implore us to all take a moment each day and tell our husbands, wives, children and even our pets that we love them? Once the band left the stage, The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love” rang out from the speakers and we made our way to the gates. No matter where on the rock spectrum your musical tastes lie, nothing unites us all like the perfect anthem to end a perfect evening.