Eurovision-style Russian music awards Bravo to be held in Abu Dhabi this year

'The weather is cold, but their hearts are warm,' said Emirati star Hussain Al Jassmi at the star-studded five-hour Bravo ceremony in Moscow on Saturday night

Hussain Al Jassmi receives the award for Best Middle East Artist from Nikolay Baskov at the Bravo awards in Moscow, Russia on Saturday night.
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Abu Dhabi is set to host colourful Russian music awards Bravo in November.

The awards will bring Eurovision-style glamour to the capital for a ceremony set to feature the best of Russian talent and a smattering of international pop and classical music stars.

This was announced last night in Moscow during a sold-out Bravo awards ceremony. The two-night event this weekend in Moscow was sponsored by Abu Dhabi's Department of Culture and Tourism. The first half, which focuses on pop, was held at the Kremlin State Theatre Saturday night, and the second-half, which is all about classical music, will be at the Bolshoi theatre tonight.

The awards focused on international pop music, with an eclectic list of performers ranging from 1980s pop veterans Duran Duran, Rod Stewart and British soul man Seal to the Russian pop bad boy Philipp Kirkorov and the UAE’s very own Hussain Al Jassmi.

Al Jassmi travelled to Moscow not only for his debut performance on Russian soil, but also to receive the award for Best Middle East Artist:

Emerging from the car in the midst of a soft snow blizzard, Al Jassmi wore a thick navy blue kandoura with badges of the Emirati flag and Year of Zayed pinned on his chest.

“Don’t worry, I came prepared,” he told us, discreetly pulling up his sleeves to reveal he was wearing thermals beneath.

“It is a pleasure to be here. I am not only coming here as a singer, but as a representative of my country and its capital city Abu Dhabi. It also a chance to meet with the wonderful Russian people – the weather is cold, but their hearts are warm.”

Abu Dhabi Studio

Indeed, over 2,000 people braved the minus 8°C weather to sell out the theatre, hovering at designated areas beforehand to see the stars roll up.  Shown live on the Russian public broadcaster, fans had the chance to see some of their favourite acts interviewed both on the red carpet and in "The Abu Dhabi Studio" where guests were quizzed on their Abu Dhabi experiences and knowledge.

“We just came from that part of the world,” said Duran Duran keyboardist Nick Rhodes. “We actually played a few weeks ago in Dubai as part of the jazz festival and that was a great crowd. Lots of energy. But before that we also visited Abu Dhabi, I would say four or five years ago.”

Russian Philipp Kirkorov was ecstatic about his Abu Dhabi experience, saying he went there for some downtime last year and enjoyed the fact he could visit Ferrari World and indulge in shopping without a trail of fans in his wake.

Meanwhile, vintage rockers Europe confirmed their interest in touring Abu Dhabi if the opportunity arises. Speaking to The National, front man Joey Tempest explained how their slated show at Du Forum being cancelled last year had little to do with them: "It was a shame, man, because we were never booked," said The Final Countdown singer. "We never knew about the gig at all and we never signed off on it. But we do hope to make it over there."

An epic five-hour ceremony

If you thought the Academy Awards ceremony was long, you are yet to experience Bravo. Clocking in at just over five hours, the event was a test of endurance for not only the crowd but for the hosts as well.

The Bravo awards had two pairs of hosts that interchanged every 90 minutes or so to ensure energy levels were high. Meanwhile, the crowds had the chance to stretch their legs and nourish themselves when the much-needed intermission arrived at the half-way mark.

The performances

Despite the duration, the event was packed with near back-to-back musical performances that would delight any Eurovision music lover.

There was "The People's Artist of Russia" Nikolay Baskov, who was backed by a troupe of dancers dubbed The Queens, who looked like they just walked of the set of Xena: Warrior Princess. He delivered his signature brand of upbeat Barry Manilow-esque numbers.

Then there was the fresh-faced young singer Vladimir, who kept his show delightfully 1990s with a Russian version of Bobby Brown's My Prerogative complete with boy-band dance moves.

Kirkorov was also true to form; joined by nearly 20 dancers wearing risqué outfits, the 50-year-old sang, rapped and mumbled his way through a high energy dance track all the while carrying a gun that sprayed the stage with colourful Post-it notes.

Rod Stewart: 'I didn't know anything about this' 

The international acts brought us down to earth with slick performances. Seal's raspy voice remains a marvel three decades into his career. He performed stripped-back takes of hits Kissed From A Rose and Crazy.

With Duran Duran touring for the last twelve months, they were a well-oiled machine on stage as they delivered the fan favourite Come Undone and the more recent release Pressure Off.

After Al Jasmi performed his biggest hit, Boshret Kheir, to an appreciative crowd it was the British singer Rod Stewart who finished off the ceremony with the hits Forever Young and Sailing.

Accepting a lifetime achievement award from a Department of Culture and Tourism official, the 73-year-old was suitably chuffed.

“You know I didn’t know anything about this until I came to sound check this afternoon,” he said upon receiving his statue. “But I will take it. Thank you very much”

It is that kind of chaotic yet free-wheeling vibe that made the Bravo awards a guilty treat: once the event receives some extra polish and editing, it should make for a great night out in Abu Dhabi.

Tomorrow night, the Bravo awards moves to the more regal surroundings of the Bolshoi Theatre as it honours the best of the classical music industry; guests include the Spanish tenor Jose Carerras and the Russian soprano Anna Netrebko.

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