Miami Band talk Kuwaiti origins, enduring hits and why they are not a boy band

From humble beginnings, the trio are now playing some of the biggest shows of their career around the world

Singer Khaled Abdul Jalil Al Randi performing in AlUla, Saudi Arabia, last month. Photo: Experience AlUla
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The appeal of vintage boy bands is not only limited to the West.

While the Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block have been filling arenas and even cruise ships in recent US tours, the nostalgic affection can also be felt in the Gulf with Kuwait’s Miami Band recently performing some of their biggest gigs to date.

With previous UAE concerts limited to culture festivals over the years, the trio are set to headline Coca-Cola Arena on Saturday. The concert also comes on the back of a sold-out show in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla last month.

While singers Khaled Abdul Jalil Al Randi and Mishaal Saleh Laili welcome the attention, they gently baulk at their categorisation.

“We never looked at ourselves as a boy band and more as a genuine band.” Al Randi tells The National. “It is only in recent years that I have been seeing us described as a boy band and maybe that’s because of the interaction with fans during the shows. But we definitely don’t do any dance routines or anything like that."

It could also be down to the breezy melodic pop the group have delivered for more than three decades.

Emerging from Kuwait in 1991, Miami Band were a breath of fresh air in the Khaleeji pop market. Their debut single Saboha and 1997 album Sheiluha Sheilha were rightly viewed as milestones for the scene with their slick western pop-style arrangements and energetic tempos.

Instead of more ballads about torrid relationships, songs like Saboha had Miami Band sounding their age with its odes to joy and friendship.

Laili says the group’s approach is epitomised in their name.

“It’s more for what Miami, as an idea represented to us, than the location,” he says. “We wanted to create music that was modern, multicultural and that can appeal to anyone no matter what your background is and we felt that Miami is the perfect description for that.”

Al Randi also recalls the group emerging from what he now considers Kuwait’s nascent independent music scene.

“We were one of nearly 10 bands trying to write our own songs, establish ourselves and perform in whatever shows were offered,” he says. “But what I can say about that scene is how friendly and respectful it all was. This was a time before social media, of course, so there were no real rumours and disrespect flying around. It was all good-natured competition and we would support each other if needed.”

It was also a gruelling period, Laili says, as the group did their own publicity and production.

“We basically did the best with what our limited means,” he says. “The video for Saboha I think perfectly illustrates that in that it was so simple and basic but the quality of the song was undeniable. And that’s how it was really during those early years, in that we knew the music itself may cover some of our other limitations.”

Al Randi says the band began with a simple goal of being recognised in Kuwait and anything beyond that was unfathomable. That sense of appreciation is behind their work ethic as they branch out to compose anthems for brands and tourism campaigns.

Those who have visited the theme parks on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island may have heard Al Hamdullah w Chefnakom, the entertainment destination's official anthem of last year's summer campaign.

The song found the group going full circle as they modernised their own hit from 1998.

“It was beautiful to revisit that song,” Al Randi says. “When I heard it again after all those years I realised how far we have come. It also made me excited because there are plenty of things we want to achieve.”

Miami Band perform at Coca-Cola Arena on Friday. Showtime is 9pm, tickets start at Dh195; coca-cola-arena.com

Updated: May 16, 2024, 2:36 PM