Amy performs in Dubai – onlookers were disturbed by her nervous demeanor and scratching
Despite her well-publicised addictions Amy Winehouse was loved in the UAE for her amazingly soulful voice. It was little wonder then that Amy’s February 2011 concert in Dubai’s Festival City drew in the crowds eager to hear a world-class performer in her prime. However, what they witnessed couldn’t have been further from that.
“It was really sad,” said Emily Reynolds, a UK expat who attended the concert. “It looked like she was frightened; like she didn’t want to be on the stage, and she kept scratching herself. She even stormed off during one song and a backing singer had to take over.”
Thomas Oveson of Done Events, who brought Amy to Dubai, said, “She was eager to do the show – she’d just done five shows in Brazil and got good reviews. She was definitely excited about coming to Dubai. And, actually, part of her show involved walking off and letting the band play for a while, but that night she seemed nervous.” \
Dubai 92 DJ Dan Marsh who presented Amy’s Dubai concert with co-host Tom Bushell also saw an improvement in Amy towards the end of the night. “It’s such a shame, because while that Dubai show seemed shaky at first, by the end of it we were definitely glad we’d stayed… It seemed like maybe she was starting to turn things around.”
“Perhaps she was nervous about performing without being under the influence,” continued Oveson. “Amy had an elaborate management system in place to deal with her and make sure that she couldn’t have a drink. There were around 50 people in her team, which is normal for a star of her level, but they were most focused on looking after her personal well-being.”
“It was like she had never been on stage before – a bit like watching a child,” adds Reynolds.
When Amy didn’t engage with the audience and the audience started to react to that, booing and talking over the top of her singing, her performance declined.
However, Oveson claimed she seemed happier once off stage. “After the show she was chirpy – she stayed on in Dubai for a couple more days to enjoy a bit of a holiday. She stayed at the Intercontinental. She didn’t seem like a person who was troubled. You could see she was in a better place when she was in Dubai.”
Perhaps like Kurt Cobain, another music legend who died at 27, Amy simply didn’t enjoy performing on stage and the pressure to share her amazing talent, combined with the hedonistic pursuits of fame, drove her to a desperately unhappy place from which she could see no return.
Her final performance in Belgrade, Serbia, saw a greatly deteriorated Amy Winehouse slur through a her beloved track list to the dismay of a disgruntled paying audience, but the music industry today is left cherishing the back-catalogue of her work: two award-winning albums which will undoubtedly impact on many generations to come.
Here Dubai 92’s Dan Marsh shares his all-time favourite Amy Winehouse performance, featuring fellow music heavyweights Jools Holland and Paul Weller. With this clip illustrating her undisputed vocal prowess, we’ll let Amy have the last word.