A David Guetta performance at Louvre Abu Dhabi is a perfect fit, says the French dance music star.
More than Gallic pride, he describes the opportunity to play amid the stunning Saadiyat Island museum as neatly dovetailing with his goal of taking electronic music to the masses.
“My whole career really is about using music to bring different people and cultures together,” he tells The National at Riyadh’s Soundstorm music festival on Saturday.
“And I have been doing this particularly in the Middle East. I spend a lot of time in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and I have seen how the region’s dance music scene evolved with people putting their cultures into it. It is a great thing to see and I am just proud to be part of what is going on.”
While the gig will be streamed on New Year's Eve, it was pre-recorded earlier this month, says Guetta’s manager Jean-Guillaume Charvet.
This was done so they could visually infuse Louvre Abu Dhabi, in addition to adding some of the key artworks from the museum to Guetta’s performance. Expect to see Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Blue, Red, Yellow and Black, August Rodin’s The Walking Man, On a Column and Katsushika Hokusai's Under the Wave off Kanagawa, among other works.
The concert will be streamed from Guetta’s social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, from midnight GST on January 1.
Ahead of the event, here is what you need to know about the show:
1. A picturesque production
For the performance, Guetta is on a floating stage backed by an evocative light show and it includes projections of masterpieces from Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection.
There are 20-metre-high flames shooting into the night sky in sync with the DJ’s set.
“This is not a Guetta [gig] with Louvre Abu Dhabi as just the background,” says Charvet. “The museum is a major part of the show and everything has been designed to ensure that balance between music and art is there.
“That means a lot of work and organisation has been done beforehand and it’s not just about showing up to the museum and just playing.”
While not wanting to reveal too many technical aspects of the recording prior to the stream, Louvre Abu Dhabi director Manuel Rabate describes the production level as immense.
“It is huge and spectacular,” he tells The National. "In terms of scale and complexity it is very big and fantastic. While Guetta is only using one big stage there are a lot of cameras and visual effects.
“There are live drones capturing footage and at the same time the museum's artwork will be fully integrated into the show. There is that visual connection and overall narrative to the performance."
2. Music for the moment
Considering the setting and the occasion, the normal supply of festival hits won’t do. Charvet says that Guetta spent a lot of time crafting a set-list in tune with the celebratory vibes of New Year’s Eve and the majestic surroundings.
While Guetta performed a similar streamed concert for New Year’s Eve 2020 in the Louvre Museum in Paris, Charvet says the songs played in Abu Dhabi are directly inspired by the museum.
"It will be more reflective and artistic," he says. “The music played is more electronic and that's to give space for the architecture to shine in the show. The performance is less based on pure energy and more on sensibility and capturing every detail of the amazing museum in Abu Dhabi."
3. The research process
As part of the creative process, Guetta immersed himself into Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection as well as aspects of UAE culture. This included spending hours in the museum on a guided tour with Rabate earlier this month.
"What I found fascinating about Louvre Abu Dhabi was how they represent the various human civilisations by chronology in the same space, instead of separating them,” Guetta says.
"That to me is powerful because it ultimately shows that we are really not that different from each other and to me that is really the whole history of the world."
As someone who is used to leading high-profile delegations around the museum, what struck Rabate about Guetta and his crew was their indefatigable curiosity surrounding the Louvre Abu Dhabi collection.
“This was even before they arrived in Dubai where we shared a lot of correspondence and research about the history of the museum and its collection,” Rabate says.
“In the museum, David and his team were asking questions about the collection and what it meant. You can tell that they were taking it all in and using it in preparation for the show.”
Guetta also went on a low-key desert safari in Dubai. “We all sat there just sharing tea with our wonderful Emirati hosts and learning the history of the UAE and traditions,” Charvet says.
“They were really generous with us and we had a beautiful time sharing stories and experiences.”
4. Shining a spotlight on Louvre Abu Dhabi
Guetta follows international pop group Now United in performing streamed concerts from Louvre Abu Dhabi.
While the pandemic largely necessitated performances to be held without a live audience as a safety measure, Rabate says both events are part of a drive to promote the museum as a cultural and tourism destination.
“We have definitely been increasing its digital footprint and with the Now United show, and surely with David Guetta, it will also be huge for us in terms of visibility,” he says.
“What we are doing with these shows is creating desire and curiosity and, once it’s safe to do so, we can hopefully convert that knowledge into footfall.
“The world is still in shock with Covid-19 but we are showing that Abu Dhabi is a safe and vibrant city and we are still keeping the flame for culture alive.”
David Guetta at Louvre Abu Dhabi will stream online at midnight GST on January 1. More information is available at louvreabudhabi.ae