Avril Lavigne charms in stripped down Special Olympics Abu Dhabi performance

The Canadian singer kept it low-key and passionate in intimate Abu Dhabi show

Avril Lavigne performing at the Special Olympics Health Athletes reception, held at Abu Dhabi’s Aloft Hotel on March 16, 2019. Picture by Saeed Saeed
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Fresh from her mammoth performance as part of the Special Olympics opening ceremony at Zayed Sports Stadium on March 14, Avril Lavigne's second Abu Dhabi gig was a stripped back affair.

The Canadian singer delivered a stirring two song set as part of the Special Olympics Health Athletes reception, held at Abu Dhabi’s Aloft Hotel two days later.

Lavigne, 34, took the make-shift outdoor stage early in the evening ceremony and sat on a stool, flanked by a pianist and guitarist.

With such a minimal musical backdrop, the performer was in 'ballad mode', as opposed to her fizzy pop stylings that produced the hits Sk8er Boi and Complicated.

But you know what? It may have been short but it was definitely sweet.

Lavigne started with Head Above Water, the lead single and title of her latest album. Rarely a subtle instrument, Lavigne's voice was powerful as it quavered within the song's dual emotions of hope and despair. The gentle piano and guitar were a welcome counterpoint to Lavigne's vocal fireworks.

For her closer, Lavigne said 'I will play something a little bit older now." The guitars strummed gently and Lavigne's "Oh, oh, oh" signalled that it was her 2004 hit My Happy Ending.

While the sting of the electric guitars may have been missing here, the acoustic treatment gave the song a more meditative feel. Where in the original she was frantically attempting to salvage a broken relationship, the Abu Dhabi version seemingly had her looking back at the whole affair with some wisdom.

It all goes to confirm that Lavigne’s talent hasn’t dimmed over the years and she remains a live drawcard. Judging by this short performance, let’s hope she considers an acoustic tour in the future.

Earlier in the day, Lavigne was enjoying her lavish surroundings at Emirates Palace. The singer and band posted photos on their social media accounts of riding camels down the private beach of the Abu Dhabi hotel.