For audiences used to top acts in packed arenas (such as Katy Perry at Meydan a few months ago, or Madonna at Yas Island before that), the promise of a cosy, intimate evening of music holds a different kind of appeal.
Emirates Vision and MTV India brought just that to Dubai on Friday night, organising the first MTV India Unplugged concert in the Middle East.
Staged at the Safina Ballroom at Jumeirah Beach Hotel, the concert featured the Pakistani singer Shafqat Amanat Ali Khan and the Indian songstress Shilpa Rao, who performed some of their most popular numbers before a crowd of about 650.
But it was Ali Khan who stole the show, going beyond merely performing to establish a camaraderie with the audience. While singing Aaj Jaane Ki Zid and Khairya De Naal, Ali Khan got off the stage and walked around the platinum seating area, shaking hands, giving hugs, posing for photographs – all without missing a single note. At one point, he pulled out a chair in the middle of the room, climbed on it and turned it into a makeshift stage, much to the delight of those seated around him.
Michelle Momin and Rajiv Sapru, who made their singing debut on radio as City 101.6 “Unplugged -Artists”, warmed up the crowd by singing a song each – Ek Tara and Pani Da Rang respectively.
“Sapru has a regular job in finance and Momin is a stay-at-home mum,” said Malavika Kamaraju, a City 101.6 RJ who co-hosted the MTV concert with her fellow RJ Tarun. “What’s incredible is that when you hear them on stage, you wouldn’t think for a second they aren’t professional performers.”