x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Musical lightning always seems to strike twice

You wait ages for a bus, then two come along at once. It's much the same with high-end musical acts.

Last November, in a knee-jerk fit of frustration at missing out on so many live performances by my favourite bands, I booked a financially irresponsible one-night trip to London for a gig. The band in question were the Canadian synth-poppers Chromeo. Granted, not the biggest act to grace the planet, but I rather enjoy their ever-so-slightly cheesy, 1980s-tinged beats and, having spent a sweaty summer in the UAE while Daft Punk were destroying Europe (not literally) two years ago, I was determined not to miss out again.

In any case, I felt pretty rock and roll at my decision: 14-hour flight for a 90-minute gig. Yeah. It may have been rather foolish, and ultimately saw me dine on two-minute noodles for the remainder of the month, but for that weekend I would be the man among friends and acquaintances back home in the UK, the guy who was so darn cool he was heading straight to the airport from the after-party. I wasn’t even going to take a change of clothes I was so wild (or should that read “disgusting”?).

Anyway, as so often happens in these situations, joy soon turned to despair. This time, the look to the sky and the bellowing of “Nooooo” occurred when I discovered that on that particular night, the one night I was waving goodbye to the silence of Arabia and embracing the warmth of noise-loving Europe, Prince was playing an intimate gig in Abu Dhabi. Yes, Prince. That Prince. The “Five Acts To See Before You Die” Prince. The Prince whom I’d previously tried to see in Las Vegas but turned up the one weekend he had off in his year-long residency.

So, while Chromeo’s performance was faultless, it was ever-so-slightly marred by the niggling realisation that at that exact same moment, in the country I had departed just hours earlier, some of my closest friends were standing metres away from The Purple One as he delivered what was later described as “the best gig you’re likely to have ever seen”. Fantastic.

Such an unfortunate coincidence also meant that, instead of having friends in the UK marvel at my recklessness, they instead preferred to question why I wasn’t watching the man behind Doves, Kiss, Purple Rain and other works of unquestionable genius.

Sadly, Princegate – as it has now become known – kickstarted a depressing series of similar musical miss outs: 2ManyDJs played in Dubai while I was once again back in the UK, this time saying hello to a friend’s new baby, who, while adorable, had a rather limited vocabulary and distinct lack of amusing anecdotes. This weekend, Röyksopp arrive for a live performance on a beach, just as I’m halfway into a 20-hour flight to New Zealand for a wedding.

The solution, I’ve now realised, is never, ever to leave. Even if Daft Punk don their robot masks once more and parade through England in a beats and bleeps spectacular, I’m staying here, because, for all I know, Radiohead, the Rolling Stones and the ghost of Jimi Hendrix might that night be playing a cosy gig in The Irish Village.


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