There’s a steady stream of people heading into The Arena, the purpose-built venue for Abu Dhabi Showdown week, and the excitement in the air is infectious.
It seems that every rock fan in the Middle East has turned out for the event, and despite the numbers, and the fact that nobody at all knows where they are going, everyone seems to be getting through to their seats quickly.
The crowd is a mix of people from all walks of life, although few are younger than 25. When the rockers take to the stage, consisting of a remarkably well-preserved singer Anthony Kiedis, everyone’s favourite wacky bassist Flea, likeable drummer Chad Smith and most recent member of the band guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, the noise is tremendous.
After a quick intro, they’re straight into big-hit Can’t Stop, and for the first ever concert in a venue that largely looks like marquee tent, the sound is pretty excellent.
However, it’s frustrating that there seems to be some confusion with the video footage.
For the first few tracks the only person we see on the big screens is Klinghoffer, with only the very occasional fleeting glance of Flea as he comes bounding past (throughout the whole show he doesn’t stay still for longer than a second).
But, by the time we’ve got to smash hit The Zephr Song, the team has got it together and we’re now able to see the faces and quirky outfits of the more recognisable members of the band (Kiedis’ moustache is particularly glorious).
Any fears that they will just be doing newer tracks are also immediately destroyed.
They blast out all the most iconic Chili tracks like Californication, Snow ((Hey oh)), Suck My Kiss, Dani California and By The Way, which is so beautiful it gives us goosebumps.
The break before the encore doesn’t last long, and this time just Smith and Klinghoffer appear for a cool and dramatic cover of Prince’s Purple Rain. The crowd absolutely adore it.
Then the full band throw all their remaining energy (which is a lot, considering that three of the four are in their mid-to-late fifties) into explosive final track Give It Away.
Then with a final farewell, including Flea reminding us to “be nice to our grandparents” and a lot of drumsticks being flung into the crowd, they’re off, presumably to unwind with a few buckets in Mr Miyagi’s.
For any in the crowd who had started to forget how brilliant these Californians are, this gig is a welcome reminder.
We hope UFC brings us more great gigs like this.