If you thought Beyoncé was big and Aerosmith rocked, you haven’t seen anything yet. Yasalam, (which literally means ‘wow’), the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix concert series, returns for a second year from November 12 and the line-up is bigger than ever. Whether it’s pop, rock, hip hop, soul or grime that’s your thing, there’s something for all tastes and ages this year. The big three Yasalam acts are being saved for the three nights of the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix weekend, once again only open to F1 ticket holders. Here’s the lowdown on this year’s A-listers.
Who? Remember the chap who made a colossal fool of himself at last year’s MTV Video Music Awards by bursting on stage to grab the microphone from a terrified Taylor Swift? The one who insists on wearing Venetian blinds on his face? Yeah, him. He’s heading to the capital. Luckily, what he lacks in the way of social grace and practical eyewear, the American hip-hopper makes up for in chart-storming, roof-raising hits. And yes, we know Yas Arena is an open-air venue, but expect wild scenes all the same when the likes of ‘Gold Digger’ and ‘Stronger’ kick in. He’s also famed for collaborating with some of the biggest names in music, so we wouldn’t be shocked to see him joined on stage by a celebrity chum or two.
When? November 12
Who? These guys are currently the most high-profile rap-rock outfit on the face of the very earth. We’ve known that Chester Bennington and the boys were on the Yasalam bill for about a month now, but still – the nu-metallers’ Abu Dhabi debut could be the surprise hit of the year, with angst-ridden anthems ‘Crawling’, ‘Papercut’ and ‘Somewhere I Belong’ perfectly suited to the scale of the occasion. We’ll have to wait and see whether the UAE’s motorsport fans take to the band’s youth-oriented sound, but we guarantee there’ll be at least one tattooed nut pogoing around and shouting along to every word. Which, even if you loathe commercial rock, ought to make for a memorable evening in itself.
When? November 13
Who? While he’s barely taller than the average 12-year-old boy, stars don’t come much bigger than this man. He’s been releasing records for the past five decades and has won just about every entertainment award you care to mention, from Grammys to Oscars. Then there are the stats – more than 100 million records sold worldwide, 30 US top 40 singles, 10 platinum albums… the list goes on. But perhaps the greatest appeal is the fact that you needn’t be able to tell your ‘Purple Rain’ from your ‘Raspberry Beret’ to enjoy the man in the flesh – his famously domineering stage presence is enough to ensure his sell-out arena tours have become the stuff of legend. It’ll be his first appearance in the Middle East, but given that he conquered London’s O2 Arena for 21 continuous nights in 2007 and bossed the coveted half-time show at the Superbowl the same year, we imagine a night at Yas Arena ought to be a walk in the park for the diminutive legend. As long as his famously raunchy behaviour doesn’t land him in jail en route to the venue, of course.
When? November 14
Best of the rest
No ticket required – just head to the Corniche’s Beats on the Beach gigs on the advertised dates
The grimey 19-year-old British rapper beat Jay-Z and Yasalam headliner Kanye West to a MOBO Award last year. He already has a UK number one single and number two album under his belt.
This reggae star has collaborated with anyone who’s anyone, from Snoop Dogg to Yasalam 2009 show-stealer Beyoncé. The Jamaican-born singer regularly commands huge audiences, so get down early to claim your spot.
Sophie Ellis Bextor
After a few years in the wilderness, the Brit singer is back with new album Straight to the Heart next month, so anticipate new material mixed with ‘Murder on the Dancefloor’.
The US singer arguably peaked in 2004 with Grammy-nominated hit ‘Milkshake’. Latest album Flesh Tone, released earlier this year, failed to trouble the UK and American charts, despite a good reception from critics.
This contemporary Lebanese performer is able to draw a crowd of Middle-Eastern admirers simply by yawning. As well as having a huge local fan base, he has also toured South America, Australia and the US. Excellent atmosphere guaranteed.
Beverley Knight, Eddie & The Robbers, November 12
Former F1 driver and BBC commentator Eddie Jordan’s band will join Brit soul singer Beverley Knight to perform at the Abu Dhabi Chequered Flag Ball, a glamorous black-tie affair marking the start of the Grand Prix. This is guaranteed to be a suitably posh do, yet the organisers seem inexplicably determined to remain tight-lipped on prices, so you’ll need to call them on 04 445 6842 for table reservation rates.