F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend review

<em>Time Out Dubai</em> looks back on the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend, reviewing parties and concerts, like Florence + The Machine, MadYas, Tinie Tempah and more

November 27-28,
Yas Island, Abu Dhabi

The Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix can only be described as super. Filled with supercars, super-yachts, supermodels and, to some, superheroes – just ask Enrique Iglesias super-fan Mohammed from Iran who was invited on stage for a duet with his Spanish hero – it was a weekend of, well, superness. Racing aside (let’s face it, how many of us actually made the 45-minute trip to Abu Dhabi to see Lewis Hamilton claim the Grand Prix title? He had, of course, secured victory well-before before his tyres touched the tarmac), the weekend was an excuse for many to catch A-list stars perform in between celebrity sightings (of which there were many – Will Smith, Kevin Hart, Pixie Lott to name just a few) and head to VIP parties in big-name clubs including VIP Room.

And for many others, it was the Yasalam after-race concerts that were the hot ticket. Spanish heart-throb Enrique Iglesias entertained fans on Friday night, and while things got off to a sketchy start – the singer arrived on stage 30 minutes late – he quickly won the crowd over opening with hit tracks I’m a Freak, recorded with king of crunk Pitbull, before blasting out I Like How It Feels. Then came the sensual Spanish acoustic guitars, with Iglesias finally finding the rhythm fans were after, performing his 1998 breakthrough hit Bailamos. Things got better when the superstar brought that Iranian fan, Mohammed, on stage for a special duet of Ben E. King’s Stand By Me – a bromance was born much to the delight of the audience. As confetti fluttered, Iglesias sang his penultimate song, Escape, with the arena begging for an encore. And what an encore it was; the star returned on a smaller stage in the middle of the crowd to sing emotional mega-ballad Hero, bringing the night to an end.

Saturday saw 29-year-old Florence Welch and her band take to du Arena’s stage for an energetic, showstopping performance. Clad in flowing white satin bell-bottoms, with her iconic mane of red hair streaming against her pale forehead, there was something quite other-worldly about her. The star belted out anthems Dog Days Are Over, You’ve Got the Love and Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up) while pirouetting and skipping across the stage for almost two hours.

But it wasn’t just the big stadium headliners who brought the love. The tremors were also felt on the dancefloor at MAD, a pop-up club and sister to White Dubai, which saw British rapper Tinie Tempah perform chart hits including Pass Out and Written in the Stars at 5am to a packed-out venue. High points came from White Dubai’s DJ Dany Neville who played an inventive, inspiring set of unpredictable drops and remixes, as well as tunes from American singer J. Cole – Crooked Smile and Apparently.

Another party spot that proved popular was Amber Lounge, the most exclusive Formula 1 after-party venue founded by Sonia Irvine, sister
of former F1 driver Eddie.

The intimate party at Yas Links, replete with black carpets stretching along the water to the exclusive pop-up tent, was filled with the sounds of classics such as Seven Days and Rewind by British artist Craig David who took over the decks for the night.

British band Blur were set to close the weekend, performing as we went to press (very late) on Sunday November 29. While we can’t report on this gig’s happenings, we have a feeling it was probably a super ending to a super weekend. Check out www.timeoutdubai.com for more F1 concert reviews.

The bottom line An all-round super weekend.

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