Over the years, events giant Flash Entertainment have brought some of the world's biggest music acts to the UAE shores. But the real test will come in the form of showgirl Madonna in June.
As they gear up to welcome the legendary hitmaker and her 50,000 fans who will descend upon du Arena over two nights (June 3 and 4), tabloid! sits down with John Lickrish, CEO of Flash Entertainment, to get the details that are being worked on.
Joining Flash in their mission is UAE's telecom provider du who have signed a four-year naming rights deal that has resulted in the re-christening of the former Yas Arena and Yas Forum. Both will now be known as du Arena and du Forum respectively.
Madonna's sole request to Flash, said Lickrish, is that the show "has to be perfect".
Excerpts from the interview.
Are you all set for the Madonna concert?Absolutely. It's a big act. We have been preparing since October but it's bound to be hectic at the last minute. It's going to be a life-changing experience.
Also, Madonna is very meticulous and I tell my team that any mistake made on this show, you will feel the after-effects ten times more. So everything has to run incredibly smoothly. There's no room for any technical glitches. It's a test for the city and for us.
What are the logistics involved?
We are expecting 50,000 people in total. We had to take out our stage because the Madonna stage is much bigger. Now, the stage is being pushed forward to the venue from underneath the roof to accommodate the size given. Last week we got the designs and the drawings. We have to make many changes and there's a lot of last-minute running around. We also want to make sure that people get in and out smoothly. Plus, it's going to be warm so we will have extra cooling fans. To put it simply, we want to be more than prepared this time.
Is it true that you have requested Madonna to tone down her performance keeping cultural sensitivities in mind?
It's incorrect. We don't speak to the artists directly but we know their brand and their performances. Yes, I have seen her rehearse in New Jersey just to have a look at the show. The artists are closed as far as content goes, yet they are aware of what the UAE is like and its tolerance levels. They understand that from a global perspective. It won't be an issue at all.
Do you feel you have come full circle with Madonna?
You never know what's the next big thing for us. When we started out, we missed out on Madonna by a few days because of the dates between her Greece and New York shows. It was a holiday date here. After almost four years, we are glad it's happening now as it shows the elevation of Flash. In the beginning, we would have been like how are we going to get around that etc.
When it comes to events, Flash Entertainment enjoys a monopoly of sorts.
We do our job well and Flash was developed to create a strong music scene. I don't think we enjoy any sort of monopoly.
Will we see you organise more events in Dubai?
I am not sure. We have had concerts there like the Eagles in the past. It's all about revenue streams and economics. Till June, Abu Dhabi is where we are looking at.
Does Madonna have any demands?No quirky demands. She just wants the show to go on perfectly. Everyone has a few demands, but she is a thorough professional so I am not expecting any sort of ridiculous requests.