Madonna makes UAE debut
UAE: Madonna made her UAE debut with a two-night stop at the newly branded du Arena on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. The concerts in early June were part of the artist’s MDNA tour.
With most acts now sourcing their equipment from the exceptionally strong local rental market, it is slightly surprising that Madonna opted for a touring company to bring equipment into the UAE. A reported 47 trucks of production equipment were flown in on four planes to cover the performance, with US production company Eighth Day Sound providing the audio equipment and sound personnel. However, at the time of going to print the US-based production company was subject to a non-disclosure agreement about the tour and was unable to discuss the equipment used.
Local rental companies did also have an input to the show. Protec and Eclipse were both called on for follow spots, while Delta Sound provided the DJ setup and audio equipment and Protec supplied the lighting for the VIP tent.
‘This was definitely by far the biggest thing we have done in the UAE,’ said Flash Entertainment VP of operations Lee Charteris. ‘The shows were amazing. Operationally for the company, I think the shows went really well.’
Working with the touring companies made for a different experience for Flash. ‘They have their own audio crew, so we were slightly removed from that side of the show,’ noted Mr Charteris. ‘Obviously we did everything we could to support the touring companies, but in reality they just got on with it themselves.’
The performances were the first at a newly improved arena that has seen 12,600 sq-m of turf laid and 6,200 sq-m of tarmac road rolled as well as five new entrances created. ‘We’ve refurbished the venue and we are going to go into the second phase of that now that we have loaded Madonna out,’ explained Mr Charteris. ‘I’m optimistic that people will go up to the venue in September or October and see a beautiful new venue, an upgraded venue that is suitable for the kind of shows that we are bringing in.’
The operations director is proud of the achievements Flash has made this year, but is already looking ahead to the coming season. ‘It’s been a great year for us, I think we’ve had some great shows and a real mixed bag of entertainment. We’re going into a slight lull on the surface, but in reality this is the big planning stage for us. We’re well into the planning stages for F1 and I think everyone is going to be pleasantly surprised about the kind of shows that we are bringing back in and we’ve got a whole calendar of events planned right through to the end of the year,’ said Mr Charteris.
‘We’ve almost joined the end of this season and the start of next season up now. When I first came to the UAE this premise of a three or four month downtime has pretty much gone away for us now. We work all the way through, when we’re not doing shows we’re planning them.’
Overall, Mr Charteris is very positive about the two concerts and feels that the number of high-profile acts that are now choosing to play Abu Dhabi is testament to the work Flash and the local live sound sector has been doing. ‘There were about 150 people that came with the Madonna tour and I think there’s another 150 people that will go back out into the world and say “we played in Abu Dhabi and it was amazing, we got looked after really well, great venue, great crowd”. It’s become part of the circuit now, it’s a place for people to come and play.’