A look back at the previous Abu Dhabi’s after-race concert headliners
Every November some of the biggest names in popular music land in the capital to perform at the festivities surrounding the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, now firmly established as the biggest weekend out in the UAE calendar. As two of three key headliners performing at Du Arena this year are revealed for the first time, take a look back at the previous headliners of the Yasalam After-Race Concerts, to see how they weigh up.
The first ever Abu Dhabi Grand Prix kicked into an action with a bumper bill of four A-list internationals, spread over as many nights. Megastar Beyoncé inaugurated the historic event with a Thursday evening performance, followed by cosmic funk-pop group Jamiroquai a day later. Arriving at the peak of their popularity, US rockers Kings of Leon played a short set on Saturday. The weekend closed with a Sunday night show from the self-dubbed “America’s Greatest Rock n’ Roll Band”, Aerosmith.
Controversial but captivating rapper Kanye West opened things on Friday night in the second year of the event, before angsty alt-rockers Linkin Park a day later. Prince’s closing Sunday slot has already gone down in UAE folklore, but takes on renewed poignancy following the singer’s recent untimely death.
US pop star Britney Spears brought a colourful show to open up in 2011, while there was more alt-rock on Saturday with a double bill of Incubus and vintage-age act The Cult. However, it was ex-Beatle Paul McCartney who stole all the hearts and headlines with a hit-heavy Sunday set which had even the most miserable motor-sports fan humming along.
Following Beyoncé and Britney, Kylie Minogue’s show established a tradition of opening the weekend with a female pop star so successful they remain known to the world on a first-name basis. For the fourth year running it was a guitar-centric Saturday night, this time courtesy of Nickleback. Reportedly the best-selling act of the 2000s, Eminem stunned concert goers with a potent closing appearance.
This year introduced the tradition of an all-star bill of Arabic talent on the pre-race Thursday night, here starring Egyptian pop sensation Amr Diab, as well as Lebanese songstress Elissa and the UAE’s very own Hussain Al Jassmi. Things changed gear on Friday with rap scene-stealer Jay-Z – appearing nearly four years to the day since his wife Beyoncé took to the same stage. More rock came on Saturday from progressively minded Muse, while synth-pop behemoths Depeche Mode rounded out the weekend.
The Arabic-themed Thursday this year welcomed Tamer Hosny, Carole Samaha, Fayez Al Saeed and Mohammed Assaf. Friday saw the first headline DJ, with trance trendsetter Armin van Buuren bringing the technological spectacle of his dynamic live show. An appearance from man of the moment Pharrell, amidst all the Happy hype, was let down by a sore throat. No such problems for ageing rock legends The Who, who kicked off their 50th anniversary farewell tour right here in the emirates.
The opening night welcomed Algeria’s Cheb Khaled, Lebanon’s Fares Karam and the UAE’s Aryam to the stage, before an energetic and inclusive Friday performance from Latin pop heartthrob Enrique Iglesias. Literate and influential indie was the theme for the rest of the weekend, with stellar sets from both Florence and the Machine and a curtain-closer from reformed Britpop icons Blur.
Updated: May 3, 2016 04:00 AM