Alicia Keys: Live in Dubai

Grammy Award-winner impresses with lo-fi show

Alicia Keys in Dubai
By Matt Ross
Nov 19, 2013

Any fears that Alicia Keys’ Dubai show would be playing second fiddle to other big-name gigs on the same night were swiftly disproven by the legions of fans that descended on Media City last Friday night. Jason Derulo kept the crowd ticking over with an energetic – not to mention, partially shirtless – opening performance, but when Keys appeared in silhouette, belting out the refrain from “Empire State of Mind,” the capacity crowd certainly made their appreciation felt.

Dispensing with much in the way of visual distraction – no laser shows or looming video walls for the multiple Grammy winner – Keys’ show was the essence of simplicity. The artist and her piano took center stage, her pitch-perfect vocals backed by a tight, live band and a small cadre of dancers. As she tore through her catalogue, (to the crowd’s delight, Keys rarely strayed far from her singles, but mined the biggest hits from Songs in A Minor, The Diary of Alicia Keys, Unplugged, As I Am, The Element of Freedom and Girl on Fire), she seemed to be enjoying herself, chatting with the crowd between songs, and even soliciting their advice on whether she should call a boy – albeit as part of an elaborate song intro.

Unsurprisingly, “Fallen,” “If I Ain’t Got You” and “Girl On Fire” were rapturously received, but it was an extended rendition of “Empire,” coming at the climax of Keys’ second encore, that brought the house down – proof that expensive pyrotechnics and elaborate dance routines aren’t necessary if you have an artist still at the top of her game.


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