it was an incredible night. the night i saw STEVIE WONDER sang LIVE at yas arena, abu dhabi!
when he first came out simply playing a musical instrument strapped around his neck, the crowd went wild. and he hasn’t even said a word yet! with his trademark black shades and that dashing all-teeth smile, he had the crowd under his spell from the get-go.
that’s the magic of stevie wonder.
happy me at the entrance
the concert was held at yas arena, one of the entertainment venues at yas island, abu dhabi. this was where mr. khairul went to see guns and roses few months back. yas island also houses the yas island circuit, which hosts the formula one abu dhabi grand prix, the ferrari world and yas marina hotel.
in a nutshell, yas island abu dhabi is the latest playground of the rich and can-afford-once-in-awhile, like us! haha.
security were tight. i think we passed by few stations with no less than 7 officers checking each person.
- first, the one who checks whether your ticket is either the ‘golden circle’, ‘grandstand’ or ‘general admissions’ – whether you’re at the correct lane
- after you pass that, you meet the one who checks handbags and pouches (probably looking for a cam-corder or such (maybe bombs!)
- tickets were STILL with us at this point!
- then you get to the metal detector. beep beep!
- next, you reach a table where they finally tear up the ticket stub
- …and also get your hand band
- and you’re off to mingle on the field, this is OUTSIDE the actual concert arena
- when you want to go INSIDE the concert arena, you’ll pass THREE more officers who check your ticket
man, they went ALL the way out to make sure there are absolutely NO concert-crashers! but hey, kidding aside, it’s really a good measure to ensure complete safety for all.
me @ the field just outside the concert arena
looking around, all i could see were mostly pakcik-pakcik and makcik-makcik mat saleh in simple top and slacks – ready to boogie with their teenage-year sensation, stevie wonder. opah and atuk rambut dah putih pun ade datang nak tengok their favorite singer!
i saw a few teens, but not many. probably tagging along with their parents. ye lah, imagine stevie’s hit ‘for once in my life’ came out about 9-10 years before i was born!
this is the first time i could truly see how incredibly HUGE the expat community is in the UAE. hardly any arabs (even if there are, they’re definitely OUT of the kandoora, their traditional dress). just a sea of mat saleh left and right.
my hand band
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…and we’re inside!
correct me if i’m wrong, but yas arena looks like it’s propped up against the magnificent ferrari world! see the white-red-squares wall at the back? that’s the ferrari world, the latest theme park to invade UAE.
the yas arena is an open-air venue – which was perfect with the weather – so delightfully cool!
when we went in, the place was already pretty packed, especially down at the general admissions side. like i mentioned in my previous posting, mr. khairul thought i was too erm, ‘dwarfish’ to be among the tall mat salleh and pak arab down at the general admissions side. i’d definitely be on my tip-toe the whole night, or worse – can’t even see anything even if i tip-toe!
..and so he opted for the grandstand tickets for us. and it really paid off wonderfully!
our seats were excellent. right in the middle, with awesome clear view of the stage (albeit a little far) but at least i know i don’t have to cringe my neck just to get a glimpse of stevie wonder. what made it more perfect was that the seat right in front of me was empty! so i really had a clear view of the stage, without having to see pass a tall, bald mat salleh, for example. hihi.
i was sitting down, relax, and ready to boogie with stevie. and of course, romancing the night away with my mr. khairul…
from where i was sitting. see the packed crowd right upfront?
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after nearly 2 hours of waiting, the motown legend came out. pakcik stevie (he’s 60!) walked out slowly followed by a spotlight, while playing a ‘keytar’ – a lightweight keyboard or synthesizer supported by a strap around the neck and shoulders. it hangs like a guitar, but plays like a keyboard – hence the name, keytar.
the crowd screamed in approval.
stevie playing keytar : on the left is the big screen, and stevie in the middle of the stage far right
and keytar is just one of the many instruments he played throughout the concert, showcasing his musical genius, not only in his voice. he played the keyboard, the harmonica and even the drums! very fast too! oh, yes he hit those drums so fast, you’d never guess he’s blind. truly amazing!
there’s so many other things to say about the concert and my feelings as i watched the legend in motion, so i will just wrap it up in my likes and dislikes :
- our seats were fantastic. right in the middle, next to the aisle (senang nak keluar) straight on view of the stage. no obstruction of view. perfect.
- stevie wonder is so charming, funny, and a little cheeky for a 60 year old! at one point, he asked a stage crew to fix his keyboard and tune it to ‘funk guitar’ sound, and it took longer than he expected, he made little jokes, “cammon man, cammon. do i have to take off my shades and do it myself?”
- stevie is so humble, when the audience had to wait for the stage crew to fix the keyboard, he said lightly, “hey man, let’s go let’s go. we’re losing the crowd, man. they’re ready to go home. cammon, man.” i mean, wow. he’s a mega-star and STILL thinks about the fans he’s entertaining, and not letting them wait.
- stevie sang ‘visions’ – a song about having a beautiful place that exists not only in his visions – dedicated to the people of japan. he said, “..don’t just talk about it, people. BE about it!”
- stevie asked the guys in the audience to sing a song to their ladies. then he went on keyboard and played…’my girl’!!! it was so cute. he said, “this is a classic when i was a young boy, but i knew what love was all about then.”
- at one point, he actually forgot the lyrics to a song, but he quickly ad-lib – he stopped the music with a, “..wait, wait, wait hold on hold on now,” took over of the keyboard and immediately sang a new song. so professional, and acts fast in times of crisis – like forgetting lyrics! the change was so fast that it seemed as if forgetting the lyrics was part of an act at his concert!
- it was open air, so i can see the full moon, celebrating stevie with us! few aeroplanes even zoomed by, since abu dhabi airport is just few miles away.
- the two huge screens were very sharp and clear, we could enjoy stevie from miles away! haha
- the musicians were fantastic. so talented, so energetic, and played in full enthusiasm for stevie! when stevie introduced them, and they played their instruments solo, you can see how incredibly talented they are!
- we still can’t believe stevie did not sing ‘isn’t she lovely’ and ‘part-time lover’! it was pretty disappointing, but the other great songs made up for it hihi
- we both agreed that the concert was anti-climax. sure, stevie did the old concert routine – the he-said-bye-the-concert-is-over but went back out when the crowd said, “we want more!”, and we thought he’s going to end the show with ‘part-time lover’. instead, he ended it with his less popular song! it was a banging end, but he should’ve sang a hit song instead.
- we love you stevie, so why do you have to bring up some random sissy guy who cannot even pronounce words clearly? i’m talking about this dude ‘junior’ (see, nama pun tak macho) who kononnya wrote to stevie’s management saying that he wants to propose to his girlfriend during stevie’s concert. so stevie actually asked him come up stage to propose!!! his girlfriend amanda is so sweet and lovely, but that guy junior just irritates me lah! cakap pun tak clear, tak romantic lansung his luahan perasaan on stage. this session COULD be sweet, but spoiled because it was stretched too long, and the guy was a total wuss. waste of a good 20 minutes!
- it was open air – so what do you expect? smoking is allowed! thankfully not many smoked near me.
- i ALWAYS look for merchandise whenever i go to a theater performance – be it program book, CD of the musical, and best of all, a t-shirt of the performance. however, NONE were sold at concerts in yas arena. mr. khairul was already disappointed when he went for the guns and roses concert, and another frustration when no stevie concert t-shirts were sold
- according to mr. khairul, the crowd at the grandstand area were passive – usually, when a fast number is played, it’s an unwritten rule to just stand up for that song and dance a bit, but during this concert, the crowd stayed seated and just moved at their seats. for mr. khairul, it was a bit b o r i n g!
another bit that i want to share that’s neither a ‘like’ nor a ‘dislike’. throughout the concert, a couple of guys went up and down the aisle to pick up rubbish – empty cans and cups. i was like, “bestnye. free-free je dapat tengok stevie wonder.” and mr. khairul jokingly added, “..ntah-ntah stevie wonder pun diorang tak kenal kot!”
well, that’s that. my review of the stevie wonder concert i attended with my mr. khairul. despite the ‘dislikes’ list, i obviously enjoyed myself thoroughly. i still can’t believe i watched him sing LIVE, at abu dhabi!
criteria of a good concert to me is, the singers singing songs that i can sing along to. meaning, i know most of his/her/their songs and can sing along during the concert. having said that, other singers i would like to see in concert would be :
- babyface! (have yet to see him! sob sob)
- boyz to men, of course! (i’ve seen them in concert in malaysia)
- …and harry connick junior, or michael bubble since they both sang pretty much the same songs.
- anuar zain jangan dilupakan!
- the legendary sheila majid
- KRU, backstreet boys or n' sync pun jadilah!
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thanks so much, honey. you made it happen!