While legendary rock albums provide listeners with timeless music impeccably recorded and produced from start to finish, it is through live gigs that one may truly experience the raw energy and emotion being emanated from the stage.
In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, rock addicts and aficionados regularly book hotels and make their way to live rock concerts knowing full well that they won’t escape unscathed.
To put it simply, rock is pure unadulterated power, and while rock concerts can be considered few and far between, the following are some of the most badass rock gigs ever to have graced the MENA region.
The Rolling Stones
In February 2014, the legendary rockers under the banner of the Rolling Stones descended from their iron throne to rock the crap out of 30,000 stoners at Yas Island’s du Arena in Abu Dhabi.
The then 71-year-old frontman Mick Jagger was still showing fans how it’s done as he delivered classic fan favorites including Paint It Black, I Can’t Get No Satisfaction, Angie, Honky Tonk Women, and numerous others with total conviction.
The two-hour live gig garnered massive press attention at the time and remains peerless as the region’s most celebrated rock performances.
Sting, former frontman/bassist of The Police rocked Cairo, Egypt in April 2001 under the shadow of the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Gizeh. Some 10,000 fans were treated to a surreal evening as the mesmerizing background provided the perfect setting for the old but gold rocker to belt out popular numbers such as Every Breath You Take, Por Su Amor, Englishman in New York, and a number of other crowd-pleasers.
The highlight of the performance was undoubtedly when Sting delivered Desert Rose in collaboration with the Algerian singer Cheb Mami. The song struck a chord with Egyptian fans due to it being a direct result of Sting’s efforts in forging bonds with Arabic culture and people.
In line with Sting’s stance on the Palestinian plight, it’s reported that 10 percent of the concert’s revenue was donated to a project dedicated to Palestinian children. With the Middle Eastern press celebrating his decision, Sting’s Cairo concert is widely regarded as one of the most influential live performances in the Middle East.
The versatile Robbie Williams is celebrated for his affinity to a number of genres including Pop, pop rock, soft rock, and alternative rock.
During his 2006 Dubai performance, the popular singer was at the height of his popularity and his live gig had amassed no less than 15,000 spectators. Williams delivered a 21-song-set-list that included popular songs such as Millenium, Angels, Feel, Back For Good, and Come Undone.
Many deemed Robbie Williams’ Dubai gig highly memorable as it was in essence a mix of a perfectly executed concert as well as a comedy show. During the show, the crowd was left entertained by his spot-on impersonations of Michael Jackson, Mick Jagger, and even Jennifer Lopez.