Fans feel the heat as David Blaine kicks off world tour in Abu Dhabi

American illusionist David Blaine launched his first world tour to a packed audience at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night.

American illusionist David Blaine on the first stop on his ‘Real or Illusion’ world tour at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Blaine thrilled an audience of more than 1,000 by spitting kerosene to set a brand alight, then regurgitating water he had drunk earlier to put it out. Christopher Pike / The National
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ABU DHABI // American illusionist David Blaine launched his first world tour to a packed audience at the Emirates Palace hotel in Abu Dhabi on Thursday night.

About 1,100 people came to watch the death-defying artist’s show, and he did not disappoint.

“I’ve waited 10 years for tonight,” Blaine told the audience. “I’ve always dreamt of putting everything I’ve done into one show.”

He started his show with an impression of a human fire extinguisher. “I was told to drink a lot of water because of the climate here,” Blaine said as he drank half a dozen bottles of water.

Then, with a gulp of kerosene, he blew fire and lit his spade-shaped logo on fire, and then spewed out water to put it out.

The crowd were left with their mouths agape in wonderment.

“I’ve always been a fan. I started watching him on television when I was young,” said Jamie Ryder, 34, a lawyer from Britain. “He was very different from every other magic show you’d seen. He launched a new genre.”

But Mr Ryder said he was slightly nervous about being seated near to the stage. “My friends got me the ticket as a surprise,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being freaked out, I just hope he doesn’t ask me to participate.”

Blaine heavily involved members of the audience in his show as he performed many of his street magic and card tricks.

Ishwar Chusani and his family had seen David Copperfield perform live and were looking forward to comparing his performance style to Blaine’s.

“I’ve heard so much about him [Blaine], and the kids said they really wanted to see him,” said the 56-year-old Bangladeshi who drove from Dubai to the capital for the show. “We really want to see what he has in store for us. David Copperfield was a great show, I’m sure this is different, but I want to see how.”

At one stage, Blaine asked a female member of the audience to pick a piece of a puzzle from a jar containing 2,000 different puzzle pieces. The piece she picked was the missing piece in a nearly completed map he had on stage. It was “Abu Dhabi”.

“I enjoyed watching his endurance shows where he broke records in New York and London,” said Khalifa Al Muhairi, a 31-year-old civil servant. “His reputation preceeds him. And I just want to enjoy his performance tonight.”

For his final act, Blaine picked the death-defying water-torture cell performance that Harry Houdini made famous.

“We have all been swimming and know how long we can hold our breath. I want to see how long he can last,” said Omar Azad, a 32-year-old Bangladeshi.

The illusionist asked members of the audience to hold their breath with him as he submerged himself in the tank. To prove that his act was genuine, Blaine asked a child to hold his hand under the water. The child, however, decided to join the act and jumped into the tank.

But he did not disrupt the performance, although Blaine had to help the child out of the tank, which might have cost him a few precious seconds.

Blaine eventually emerged from the water tank 10 minutes and three seconds after he started his performance.