Abu Dhabi rarely plays host to A-list artists at the top of their game. We tend to get big names that are definitely on the downward leg of their careers, or finding a second wind.
In some cases, it works really well. When Prince played the closing Formula 1 concert in 2010, it was one of the best performance I’ve ever seen, period. Madonna didn’t stint either on her show. She was 3 hours late, but she gave her usual polished, professional appearance. Sade is another case inpoint: a clear has-been, she was playing with no pressure, obviously enjoying herself and giving us – pretty unexpectedly – a great time.
But then you have the others. Those who so obviously come for the check it’s painful. Three come to mind in particular: Sting, Shakira, and tonight, Rihana. They don’t even pretend to be there to entertain, and they certainly bring no polish nor professionalism to their performance. It’s their job, and they’re phoning it in. It’s insulting to the audience, and it’s demeaning to them. It assumes that we’re so starved for culture that we’ll buy tickets to anything. It may be true, but it’s no reason to give half baked performances.