Coldplay won't be coming back to Abu Dhabi in a hurry if they see that the city's local press writes articles such as the one published online in The National (.ae) today:
Great news! Mercury Rev are playing in Abu Dhabi. The downside is that it costs Dh300 and if you don’t leave as soon as they’ve finished, you might get some Coldplay on you. I joke, I joke.
Yet for many, ragging on Chris Martin and chums is no laughing matter. From all the pained, po-faced column inches proclaiming this popular North London outfit to be, in the words of The New York Times’s Jon Pareles, “the most insufferable band of the decade”, you’d think they spent their days feasting on endangered species. Oh, Coldplay’s flaws are obvious enough: the simpering, samey songs, the worthiness, the smugness of the Martin ménage, etc.
And yet none of this detracts from their talent: they write memorable tunes with a chilly, contemporary mood. Whenever Martin’s melodies have shown up without him attached, the effects have been perfectly pleasant. Who can deny the charm of Jamelia’s See It in a Boy’s Eyes? Or of Jay-Z’s Beach Chair? Thus history, furnishing a control test, refutes the sceptic. Besides, as Nietzsche once advised, “battle not with monsters lest you become a monster”. It’s a terrible thing when the hipper-than-thou haters start seeming less fun than Chris Martin himself.
In any case such admonitions may be unnecessary, for who can hate in the presence of Mercury Rev, surely the closest thing the world of sweeping indie rock possesses to an anti-Coldplay? Where the latter are cold, modern and sensible, the Rev trade in a sort of wayward, Tiffany-glass warmth. Even on their latest album, Snowflake Midnight, in which the band branches out into electronic textures and borrows a few shock tactics from their spiritual successors Animal Collective, the mood is as swooning and starry-eyed as ever. Rev fans tend to be die-hards, too, which is another reason why they make an intriguing choice of support for Coldplay. The Emirates Palace may find itself hosting to two very different tribes on Saturday. Somehow, I’d be surprised if it came to blows.
The Bolshoi ballet is coming to the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Festival this week with a gala performance of excerpts from Minkus, Tchaikovsky, Driges and others, followed a couple of days later by a gallop through Giselle. That the ballet is one of the great wonders of the cultural world – a 200-year-old company that has survived the rise and fall of Communism to stand as the iconic and definitive exponents of their art – is surely beyond question. They do grand shows, full of shameless magnificence. That has to be worth experiencing at least once, doesn’t it? Or twice, seeing as they’re offering.
Finally, if you fancy a sneak preview of the UAE’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale, head to Gallery One at the Emirates Palace on Thursday evening. The show, which includes work by Lamya Gargash and Tarek al Ghoussein, bears the oddly apologetic title It’s Not You, It’s Me. A phrase more usually associated with the gentle break-up let-down, this may seem to strike a pessimistic note; after all, the UAE’s relationship with the world’s most august biennial has just begun. Here’s hoping the exhibition is the start of something beautiful.
More on this article and the forthcoming Abu Dhabi concert in the Coldplay Live forum here onwards.