My Experience Watching Sting at JACC

Post by Mark

Over the weekend I watched Sting live at the cultural center, it was my first time watching an event at JACC so I wanted to share my experience.

Firstly, I think its pretty cool that we’re finally getting proper concerts here in Kuwait. Although I’m not a huge Sting fan, I do like concerts and being able to watch an artist perform locally instead of me having to be on vacation in some other country is such a great feeling. I really hope this Sting concert turned out to be successful and profitable so that they’ll continue to bring more artists in.

But, I’m not so sure how good a venue JACC is for concerts like Sting. Although it’s a beautiful space, it just felt very formal and stiff for a concert, at least for one like Sting. A concert like Sting should have taken place outdoors, on the beach (like Dubai’s Sandance) or in a large park, like Al Shaheed. The only concert I’ve ever been to which had a similar formal mood to it was Bob Dylan at the Royal Albert Hall, but that was Bob Dylan.. at the Royal Albert Hall!

The second issue I had was with the fact that photos were not allowed to be taken during the event. From 50+ concerts I’ve been to in my life, not once were photos not allowed to be taken. Only one time, and one time only when watching The Lumineers perform, the lead singer requested the audience to politely put their phones away during one song so they could enjoy it. And that’s it. So it was super odd that JACC didn’t allow photos to be taken at this event. The bigger issue is actually how they tried to prevent people from taking photos. If you happened to take your phone out, maybe to take a photo, maybe to just check your WhatsApp messages or maybe you got bored and wanted to check Reddit, the ushers would automatically shine a red laser beam all over you and your phone. So while sitting there trying to watch the concert, I was distracted the whole time by red lasers being pointed all over the concert hall at anybody who happened to be looking at their phone. It was super annoying and it completely distracted the audience who were just trying to watch Sting. JACC, you can’t prevent people from taking photos, it’s just not physically possible to stop 2000 people from using their phones, so why ruin the experience for everyone with these distracting red lasers?

Finally the last and biggest issue I have with JACC is the disconnection between the restaurants and the theaters. Even though they’re located right next to each other, the gate that connects the two spaces is permanently kept closed. So after the concert when we wanted to go eat we were told the only way to do so would be to take our cars, drive out of the parking lot and then drive back into the restaurants parking lot and park there. If you didn’t want to take your car then your only other option was to take a 15 min walk through a maze in the parking lot to get to the other side. When I asked an usher why the gate was closed, I was told for security purposes. Very frustrating.

Overall though, I’m just glad we’re finally getting concerts here and I’m sure things will just keep getting better from this point forward. Can’t wait to see what concerts we’re getting next year.


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45 comments, add your own...


  1. stk90 says:

    How the concert was…were you uplifted ?

  2. Ali says:

    I thought the venue was fine for such a concert. For acts like Metallica, U2, etc; a large outdoor venue is obviously more suitable. I had seen Sting before a couple of time: in UK (indoors) and Abu Dhabi (outdoors). He is the consummate professional and establishes great rapport with his audience.
    On the other two issues I agree 100%. The constant moving around and throwing red laser by venue security people was both comical and distracting. If they check YouTube, they will see thousands of Sting concert videos uploaded. It’s the norm now at the concerts. And not having a direct path to the restaurants in the adjacent Flag Square is also very annoying. I thought that maybe it will be accessible through the car park but did not find any way. This really needs to be looked at.
    I’m putting up Sting’s setlist for Friday night here again (According to Sting, Friday morning he toured the souq, followed by a camel ride!)
    https://www.setlist.fm/setlist/sting/2017/national-theatre-kuwait-city-markaz-umm-afq-kuwait-13e195a1.html

  3. Sulaiman-COOKIEEEE says:

    I personally have 0 complaints. People were dressed so well, its nice to see people in fur and all fancy. It’s an event and I think the formality was so refreshing. Have we finally reached the point where we find it hard to enjoy ourselves without having to hold our phones? No theatre worth its name would have a large restaurant in the same building, it degrades it’s name.

  4. Altaf says:

    Agree with everything you said 100%. I was there on Thursday and the no pictures thing really ticked me off. And yes I got red lasered just for taking my phone out. Infuriating.
    On the other hand, the building is gorgeous. Really stunning.
    Sting was beyond amazing. I couldn’t believe how good he sounded after all these years. We didn’t care, we yelled and whooped, sang loudly and waved our arms with great joy. And we were a bunch of girls (middle aged women). We deeply wished we could have got up and danced. Deeply.

  5. LWDLIK says:

    All valid and annoying points especially the long walk to restaurants over cobbled pavements in high heels when there is a short cut that remains gated and closed. My biggest gripe with them is their overcharging on my credit card for a CATS ticket I didn’t receive back in Feb. After long and frustrating communications they had the audacity to tell me it was a bank problem. Of course it is not. And I got so fed up trying to get my 40 dinars back I gave up until I see on the Instagram recnetly that other customers are having the same problem which reignited my anger at their disgraceful customer service and msgd and emailed them again. Nothing…I’ve heard nothing. I tried today to complain to the Ministry of Commerce (website only in Arabic) called a dozen times each time no one seemed to know where I can complain to. Be warned check your credit card statements.

  6. LWDLIK says:

    Sorry typo – recently

  7. momo says:

    The phone ban is not something new unfortunately. It’s actually good that they only just point a laser at you. At a Kevin Hart show i went to a couple of years back, if you were seen holding ur phone or recording they would come to you and kick you out with no warnings.

    • Mark says:

      That’s because it’s a comedy show, not a concert. Standups comedians are very protective of their shows because they don’t want them to end up on YouTube. Concerts are different because the music played isn’t a secret.

      • Ali says:

        you can’t film on even in dubai opera also using – mobile

      • Omar says:

        I THINK its because they sell the footage to TV channels, maybe its a contract or something.. Samira Said’s show was not taped and we were allowed to use our phones freely, but during the shows that get recorded, its not allowed to film.

  8. Kuwait says:

    If kuwaitis were not overly obnoxious phone users, then perhaps it would have been more acceptable.

  9. Ipsom says:

    I don’t mind about the lasers… but I really agree about the restaurant gate issue, I think after the show it should be opened

  10. zaydoun says:

    I feel that a phone ban should be left to the artists’ discretion and not the venue itself. I’m 100% sure Sting couldn’t have cared less

    Re: Concert attire. I think people dressed up for the venue itself and not Sting and his band who were all in jeans and tshirts. If this was a stadium concert it would’ve been much more casual

    Re: restaurants… I’ve griped about this disconnect here before. Glad you saw it for yourself. The restaurant owners also complain that they don’t get much post-show business because of this

    • Omar says:

      The concert was organized by JACC, so they decide the rules. If it was organized by Sting like Ahlam did, he would own the venue for the time of his concert and decide its rules.

  11. Amjat Khan says:

    I told you, you won’t be able to enjoy this concert sitting down the whole time :P

  12. Hamad says:

    Hopefully he played Roxanne… did he?

  13. Kulsum Kunwa says:

    Funny you mention the phone because I was sitting few rows behind you and I saw you take a photo once and I was tempted to remove mine! This was my first time at JACC and it was too formal setup for Sting. Also, the ushers came down and pinpointed on the guests who used their phone. But JACC theatre is beautiful! If they hosted comedians – it would be perfect.

  14. zaydoun says:

    Re: the comparison with the Royal Albert Hall in London. I saw the Killers play there live and the floor seats were completely removed so people could dance. The rest of it was people standing up in their seats and bobbing along.

    However, it is unfair to compare a legendary venue in a country known for its long and rich history of musical performances of all kinds year round, with Kuwait who is just getting into this whole concert business thing. The venue is grand and elegant and it seems most people dressed and acted accordingly

    In fact, the tickets specified a dress code: Smart Casual

  15. l-bomb says:

    I had a great time and I think you undersold what an amazing performer sting was. So kind, gracious and present with his audience.

    As for the phone ban, the four people sitting directly in front of us came in 15 min late and literally had their phones out filming as they walked in. It’s so obnoxious and distracting. I was so relieved when the ushers stopped them, I definitely didn’t pay an exorbitant ticket fee to be staring at four phones the whole time. What I would say to them: Go YouTube an artist you like, nobody is going to watch your crappy footage anyway, yourself included. If you can’t stay off your phone for a couple of hours then that’s a whole other issue, and if you’re bored at a concert then you probably need to just go see artists you actually like.

    With the restaurant situation, the question is – what restaurant could be there without stinking up the place and preserving its regal, cultural nature? Maybe sushi or something?

    The most annoying thing was that the hall was half empty, due to how expensive tickets were. I don’t know why the prices are so inflated at a government-run institution.

  16. asgghard says:

    Phone bans are more normal than not. Been to numerous concerts in my life in the US, UK and Canada – and often the bigger artists will have people check cameras at the door. THey can’t do that with phones obviously, but pften, photos are not allowed.

    • Mark says:

      Yes, a lot of concerts ban what they call professional cameras. You can’t for example bring a DSLR into most concerts. Take photos with your phone on the other hand is allowed.

  17. Hussain says:

    I believe that the ban of taking photos is because of some of the extremists in the country. Its really nice to start having concerts again here in kuwait. But it would be a shame if they ban it again because of a photo combined with ignorant people and some bad publicity. Just like what is happening right now with jack wills fitting room publicity. And what happened when a normal video of people enjoying Miami band in alshaheed park was all over the internet and the parliament .

    As for the restaurants issue. I remember when i attended cats show. I walked all the way to the restaurants with no issues. Wonder what changed.

  18. Blueelephantintheshroom says:

    Any idea how expensive their venues for hire (like the lecture hall) are?

    • Blueelephantintheshroom says:

      Also, why aren’t things held on the beaches here? A certain mafia stopping it from happening or demand side issues?


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