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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

Review: Dua Lipa dazzles Abu Dhabi fans

It's refreshing to watch someone get on stage and perform their heart out without drawn-out stories or wardrobe changes

UK singer Dua Lipa performs at du Forum on Yas Island. Jason Von Berg / The National
UK singer Dua Lipa performs at du Forum on Yas Island. Jason Von Berg / The National

Dua Lipa is just 22 years old, but it's safe to say she's already one of 2018's most in demand pop artists. Her New Rules video has racked up 1.03 billion views on YouTube. Last week she wrapped up a string of gigs in the United States, including performances on the Ellen Degeneres Show and on SNL. On Thursday she walked away with two BRIT Awards in London, and two days later UAE fans got to see her sing live in Abu Dhabi for her first show in the country.

The star performed at du Forum on Yas Island to some 3,000 fans. Speaking to The National from the golden circle, some of the fans said they had been there since 1pm, waiting for more than eight hours before the concert. "We wanted to make sure we secured our positions up front because we're that dedicated," said one devoted supporter.

Fans arrived as early as 1 pm to secure their places up front for Dua Lipa's first performance in the UAE. Jason Von Berg / The National
Fans arrived as early as 1pm to secure their places up front for Dua Lipa's first performance in the UAE. Jason Von Berg / The National

Shortly before 9pm, the anticipation of the Blow Your Mind hit maker grew with chants of "We want Dua, We want Dua" echoing throughout the venue.

A short intro by her band, accompanied by visuals of the striking singer on screen made for the perfect entrance for Lipa, whose opening number, Hotter Than Hell got the show underway.

Wearing a Kimono-style dress and a pair of white platform sneakers, somewhat reminiscent of the Spice Girls era, she performed songs from her self-titled album for a little over an hour.

Singer Dua Lipa performs at du Forum on Yas Island. Jason Von Berg / The National
Singer Dua Lipa performs at du Forum on Yas Island. Jason Von Berg / The National

When performing live, Dua Lipa is a ball of energy. She dances a lot and works the stage. At times she seems a bit uncertain, maybe nervous, but that plays to her advantage. Remember, it's only in the last few months that she has been thrust into the limelight and become a megastar. She's captivating, talented, and yet, even as one of the biggest names in music right now, the free-spirited performer is able to maintain an endearing sense of trepidation, which is wonderful to watch.

When she tones it down, she lets her voice do all the work and that's where she really shows off her vocal ability. Songs like New Love and Thinking 'Bout You are a testament to that.

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While some artists love to talk between songs, Dua isn't one of them: there aren't any drawn-out stories or wardrobe changes. It's just her, the band, and the songs that have got her to this point. That raspy quality to her voice is exquisite live.

Rising British star Dua Lipa will bring her showstopping performance to Louvre Abu Dhabi. Jason Von Berg / The National
Jason Von Berg / The National

At one point she did say she had landed in the capital in the early hours of Saturday morning, and that she was battling with her voice, but as the set progressed, her voice seemed to get better. It shows she's not just a good recording artist, but a great a live one too.

Bigger venues and gigs are in Lipa's future that's for sure, and she will have to up the production as time goes on, but for now, it's refreshing to just watch someone getting up on stage, performing their heart out and enjoying the music and the crowd while they're at it.

She wrapped up the set with an encore of two songs: Be The One and of course New Rules. She thanked the crowd for their support and for coming out and, like just that she was out of there. An hour flew by, but I'm pretty sure we'll see plenty more of the singer in the future.