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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 November 2018

Why news Avicii is retiring after current tour (and Dubai gig) should be no great surprise

Swedish DJ Avicii surprised his fans by announcing his 2016 tour would be his last. Attila Kisbenedek / AFP
Swedish DJ Avicii surprised his fans by announcing his 2016 tour would be his last. Attila Kisbenedek / AFP

So, Avicii has thrown in the towel.

After a flashing, frantic, decadent half-decade on the road, the EDM superstar otherwise known as Tim Bergling has announced his retirement from touring, in a heartfelt open letter. He is aged 26.

Perhaps the only silver lining, for fans, is that now they have a chance to see one of the DJ’s “historic” final shows. The Swede has tactfully promised to play out the remainder of his 2016 tour, some 23 dates which will keep him on active duty until August.

The countdown begins in Dubai, where Avicii performs on Friday (April 1).

But in so many ways, those fans really could — perhaps should — have seen it coming.

Firstly, it’s no great secret that he never much liked touring in the first place. The famous 2013 GQ portrait laid bare Bergling’s continued pre-show anxieties, contempt for the VIP party circuit, and an existential sense that he’s kind of fooling everybody from behind the decks (“It feels so awkward,” he says). When I spoke to him a few weeks ago, a sense of artistic malaise certainly seemed apparent.

On top of these mental strains — which Avicii fought so bravely for the good of his fans — there have been well-documented physical ones, too.

Renowned for his high-partying lifestyle, Bergling has become equally known for cancelling gigs amid health concerns. The list is long: In 2012, Avicii was hospitalised for 11 days with acute pancreatitis. In March 2014 he axed a string of dates — including Dubai and a high-profile Ultra Music Festival slot — to undergo emergency gall bladder surgery. In September 2014 he cleared his calendar until the end of the year, axing another string of headline gigs. Almost exactly a year later, he again cancelled six huge 2015 shows.

All reasons he’s reportedly toned it down in recent months — “resetting a lot of touring and life routines”, he told me — but it seems that wasn’t enough. To get better — mentally, physically — Avicii clearly has to step away from the road altogether.

It won’t be a huge financial compromise. As I wrote earlier this week, “Avicii has it all — success, fame, talent, money ...”– a total of $75 million [Dh275 million] to be precise, making him the third richest DJ in the world (if he’d cancelled a few less shows, he might even be on top). Bergling has earned quite enough in the past five years to live on more than comfortably for several millennia.

So why even bother? He’s got more money than most of us could ever comprehend — more, even, than he could realistically spend — and touring is, quite frankly, a drag to the poor guy. Who can really blame Bergling for bowing out when he’s on top?

• Avicii is live at Dubai World Trade Centre on Friday, April 1 from 9pm. Tickets start at Dh395 from www.platinumlist.ae