Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 July 2019

Review: Maroon 5 puts on crowd-pleasing performance at Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena

The California band belted out hit after hit to a delighted crowd at the brand new Dubai arena

Maroon 5 at the Coca-Cola Arena. Courtesy Coca-Cola Arena 
Maroon 5 at the Coca-Cola Arena. Courtesy Coca-Cola Arena 

Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena is officially here. A sold-out full house of 17,000 people roared as the band took to the stage at 9.30pm on the dot, which is refreshingly punctual by UAE standards.

The concert began with a 1980s-style, Back to the Future themed short film, and the audience roared once again as Adam Levine opened the show with a "Say say say, hey hey now baby" — fitting first words to have been sung at the arena.

After What Lovers Do came Pay Phone and This Love, ticking off fan favourites from albums Red Pill Blues, Songs About Jane and Overexposed song by song.

Maroon 5 on stage at the Coca-Cola Arena on June 14, 2019. Courtesy Coca-Cola Arena 
Maroon 5 on stage at the Coca-Cola Arena on June 14, 2019. Courtesy Coca-Cola Arena 

Disappointingly, there was no "Hello Dubai!". In fact, we're not sure the leading man said the word Dubai once during the show. Despite certainly putting on a lively performance, the lack of audience engagement made it feel a little more soulless than we'd have liked.

Three songs in and Levine's leather jacket was off, and the leading man was pacing the stage in a bight pink vest.

The sound was spot on all night long. Any acoustic teething problems reported from the Russell Peters show seven days prior have certainly seem to have been ironed out.

And there is no doubt that the crowd was loving every minute of the seven-piece band's performance. Another great roar came as Levine donned a guitar for a quick solo, and every high note he belted out was sung right back at him by his enthusiastic fans. There really was a feeling at an arena like this is exactly what live music in this region has been lacking.

The sold-out Coca-Cola Arena crowd waiting for Maroon 5. Courtesy Coca-Cola Arena
The sold-out Coca-Cola Arena crowd waiting for Maroon 5. Courtesy Coca-Cola Arena

As the night continued, more of the bands crowd-pleasing big hits were ticked off the set list. Sunday Morning got a huge cheer, as did a big screen appearance from James Valentine, the band's lead guitarist. Until that point only Levine had been seen on the screens.

The band wasn't hanging around, in fact there was barely a breath between songs. An instrumental cover of Luther Van Dross' Never Too Much, however, gave Levine a moment breathe as he introduced the rest of the band to the crowd.

A low-point for the 40-year-old singer came during Moves Like Jagger. He obviously injured himself as limped off stage after wrapping the song, which saw the arena go to black for a quick moment. Proof, perhaps, that the moves should be left to Mick Jagger.

Plough on he did, returning to the stage for a cover of Forever Young, which went into Cardi B collaboration, Girls Like You. The catchy pop hit was accompanied by its video, a film packed full of famous faces from Rita Ora to Ellen DeGeneres, Rihanna and Millie Bobby Brown. Levine's wife, Namibian model Behati Prinsloo also features in the video and got a cheer from the loyal crowd.

Then it was clear the night was winding down. An acoustic version of She Will Be Loved was the penultimate hit, and the band closed the night with saccharine song, Sugar.

Next to play at the arena are British rock band The 1975 on August 14 and Irish boy band Westlife on August 29.

Let's talk logistics

Traffic has been the big talking point ahead of the Coca-Cola Arena's grand opening. "How are 17,000 people going to get in and out of City Walk?" has been a well-voiced concern. But if last night is anything to go on, they have made it work.

"Don't drive," has been the message sent out from the arena, aside from the fact that there isn't parking facilities for the masses, who wants to be stuck in traffic for hours ahead of a gig? We arrived around about an hour before kick off by RTA taxi, and the traffic was fast moving through City Walk, with plenty of staff and Dubai Police on hand to make sure it was a slick operation. Cars weren't hanging around, it was a drop off and go situation, which ensured everyone was inside the arena sharpish.

More RTA taxis than we have ever seen in one place outside the Coca-Cola Arena following the Maroon 5 concer on June 14, 2019. The National 
More RTA taxis than we have ever seen in one place outside the Coca-Cola Arena following the Maroon 5 concer on June 14, 2019. The National

When it came time to leave, security and staff were ready to point everyone in the right direction. The taxi queue was long but fast moving, with more taxis than we had ever seen in one place in the UAE. There was well signed specified RTA, Uber and Careem stations, with voice overs directing people to the abundance of taxis. A much swifter exit than we could have imagined. Roll on autumn, however, when a walk to the Dubai Metro will make leaving even easier.

Updated: June 23, 2019 10:11 AM

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