Let there be rock ... in the UAE

POINT OF VIEW: Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal wears a POV T-shirt at the Guns N’ Roses concert
at du Arena, Abu Dhabi, on March 28, 2013.

By Sarat Singh, Gulf News
May 12, 2013

Think of it, we have not yet had a proper local rock festival

I have just been told that Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, the lead guitarist of Guns N’ Roses, will be playing on the second album of Dubai outfit Point of View (…and I am like “Wow”).

I can’t help but be fascinated by his involvement with the city of Dubai, or rather with its musicians.

If you didn’t know, Ron had flown down to Dubai last October to play with POV at the band’s album launch gig at Hard Rock Cafe. That was a historic moment for the local music scene, for jamming on stage with Ron was not your ordinary ‘weekend live music’ at some Dubai nightclub. It was a massive boost to the UAE’s nascent rock and roll world.

Talking of local scene, I wonder if it will ever move out of nightclubs and hotels, and rock in bigger venues. I am talking about open-air arenas, college grounds, auditoriums, giant halls and the like.

Think of it, we have not yet had a proper local rock festival at the Dubai Media City amphitheatre.

My question is simple: If over 25,000 people can turn up for an international act, why can’t 3,000 show up for a local fest. Yet people I know in the industry tell me it’s hard to envision a local gig attracting that many people. They just don’t see it happening in the near future too. And the reasons they give me are endless (we’ll talk about them another day).

They say bands have to look beyond the UAE if they want any recognition of their profession, their music.
But is that as easily done as said? Truth is Nervecell have done it. They have shared the bill with Limpbizkit, Anthrax, Deep Purple, Mastodon, among others, at international venues. That’s great gigging indeed.

What about the rest of the UAE outfits?

I hear that POV too are set to embark on a Middle East and Asia tour in July-October this year. I was pleasantly surprised when Ron Thal came out on stage sporting a POV T-shirt at the Guns N’ Roses’ Abu Dhabi concert on March 28.

I don’t know how many in the audience really noticed that, but I was glad that GNR were showing such ‘visible’ support for a Dubai band (I quickly took out my pocket cam and took pot shots at the giant screen next to the stage. I got one that’s quite decent).

But then I have been thinking when will local acts ever get similar support from the home crowd. That would be the day -- a fest where three of the best acts in the UAE share the bill and rock out at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre. OK, make that six and spread it across two days and give it a name (how does Dubai Jam sound?). Think of it …. And rock on.

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