In Yas Arena, few would argue that Abu Dhabi finally has itself a world class live music venue. Ever since Beyoncé stormed onto the stage as part of 2009’s F1 celebrations, folks have come flocking from around the globe to see some of the biggest names in music do their thing, be it the sequin-studded funk-pop of Prince or the hip-loosening Latin grooves of ab-tastic Shakira.
Stood in the crowd at the recent Snoop Dogg show, however, I was shocked. But it wasn’t the colourful language being spouted by the dishdasha-clad MC that had me perturbed, nor the groin-thrusting dance moves of his female entourage. What really bothered me was the sea of mobile phones thrust into the air from the moment Snoop came on stage to the moment he left, relentlessly documenting every last second of the 90 minute show. And if looked weird from my point of view, for poor old Snoop the glowing screens must have made him feel like he’s about to play to a congregation of angry androids.
I’m all for recording the odd snippet of life for posterity, but honestly – what are you ever, ever going to do with all this footage? Huddle your friends around your BlackBerry’s tiny screen and force them to squint at hours of grainy video? Of course you’re not, because that would make you a complete and utter moron.
Worse still, I’ve even seen people stood right at the front filming not the actual action on stage, but rather the large screens that flank it. These are people who’ve paid Dhs600 for the best view in the house, now enjoying a less direct experience than someone watching via the internet on the other side of the planet. It’s a phenomenon that’s left me baffled.
Sure, you could upload your wares to Facebook. But if anyone says they ‘like’ your shaky, inaudible three-minute clip of a two-pixel-tall Snoop crackling his way through ‘Drop it Like it’s Hot’, we promise you they’re that they’re lying. No – a good 95% of this footage is destined to never, ever be re-watched by anyone. All it’ll do is clog up your phone’s memory and make you say something rude when you don’t have the disk space to save an important email attachment, or take a picture of something worthwhile, like your first-born child.
So come on people, let’s keep our phones in our pockets and just enjoy the moment the next time a big act comes to town. After all, there were no iPhones at Woodstock, no BlackBerrys when the Beatles played their emotional farewell gig on a London rooftop. And from what we’ve heard, on both occasions everyone had a jolly good time.