RedFestDXB and the Dubai Jazz Festival gave local music fans an array of stars and musical styles this weekend. We review the shows of Tinie Tempah, Jessie J, Rita Ora, John Newman and Larry Carlton.
Jessie J, Tinie Tempah, John Newman, Larry Carlton – a weekend of top sounds in Dubai
Dance, pop, saccharine ballads and jazz were some of the notes played in a bumper music weekend in Dubai. RedFestDXB at the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre featured the pop starlets Jessie J and Rita Ora, the rapper Tinie Tempah and the soul man John Newman. Meanwhile in Dubai Festival City, the Dubai Jazz Festival returned with the guitar virtuoso Larry Carlton headlining the Jazz Garden. Here’s a rundown of some of the performances.
The London rapper whipped the crowd into a frenzy courtesy of a high-energy set. His recent second album Demonstration connected with the fans; the tracks Lover Not a Fighter and Children of the Sun are winning tunes.
She did look awkward wearing a red outfit and black trainers but, as Jessie J explained later in the set, the T-shaped stage resulted in a last-minute decision to ditch the high heels. Nevertheless, it remained a classy performance; her powerful voice roaring through the girl-power anthems Sexy Lady and Who You Are.
A last-minute addition, her performance seemed liked an after-thought. The British pop star was the weakest link of the RedFestDXB bill as she delivered a shambolic show. Backed by two dancers, she sang a few hits and a weak acoustic cover of Stand By Me. The Ben E King classic was meant to celebrate Valentine’s Day; instead, it felt like a time-filler.
After making a name for himself delivering chart-topping hooks for the English drum’n’bass group Rudimental, Newman proved he can hold his own. The six-piece band – including two backing vocalists – gave tracks such as Cheating and Losing Sleep a luscious backdrop for Newman to wail away like Joe Cocker’s lost child. Seriously impressive.
The American jazz guitarist, playing on the Jazz Garden stage, initially had some trouble adjusting to the fact The Wanted were belting out their ballads not far away on the main stage. His set really took off once the English boy band finished, giving Carlton a decent half-hour to engage the crowd with his blend of smooth jazz and funk.