ABU DHABI // It is always a good idea to leave the fans wanting more, but when Christina Aguilera's spectacular performance came to an abrupt end after an hour and 15 minutes, most of the 20,000 fans were expecting one encore at least. But, with silver confetti showering down as the platinum blonde brought her powerful rendition of Fighter to a close, the lights went out - and they never came back on again.
"She's got an amazing voice and was a superb singer live," said Jane Board, 27, a longtime Aguilera fan. "We were all really enjoying it, but then it came to quite a sudden end." Perhaps Abu Dhabi fans have been spoilt. Previous visitors Justin Timberlake, Elton John and Jon Bon Jovi put on marathon performances. Ms Board added: "It was so disappointing as we'd all been looking forward to the concert for ages. We were expecting it to be like all the other ones we've seen here, which have been at least two hours long and were fantastic value for money."
Fans had paid up to Dh890 (US$222) for tickets. The cheapest was Dh295 (US$80) but the event was not a sell-out. Hana Suwaidi, 24, a fan since the singer burst onto the pop scene in 2000, paid full price for Friday night's concert. "I was really upset it was so short. I'd paid a lot of money for my ticket and really did expect a longer performance. "When she started to say that it was over, we were all expecting there to be a big finale, an exciting encore, but there was nothing. We were all upset when it was all over so quickly and abruptly."
Flash, the concert organiser, said Aguilera gave the same performance and put in the same amount of time on stage as she had for her recent Back to Basics tour. "She loved the crowd and wished she was able to incorporate last-minute songs. But due to the complexity of her show, with the choreography and costume changes, she couldn't edit it last-minute for Abu Dhabi," said John Lickrish, managing director of Flash.
The concert was the biggest-budget music production ever in the UAE, with a 14-piece backing band, a host of backing dancers, lights and three video screens - the largest of which was 10 metres wide. It was a collaboration of Flash and Live Nation, which have brought some of the biggest names to the emirates. Aguilera, who earlier in the week said she wanted to explore the city's nightlife and called Abu Dhabi "the hot new place to go", had her official after-party at the Emirates Palace's Etoiles nightclub, surrounded by a security entourage.