Stormzy thrills crowds with roaring Abu Dhabi F1 concert

British grime rapper continues star-studded concert series through the weekend

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Stormzy came to the UAE on Friday to pick up where he left off.

Seventeen months after a set at the Redfest DXB festival in Dubai, the British grime rapper headlined the second of the four Abu Dhabi F1 after-race concerts at Etihad Park.

“I have been looking for this show for so long,” Stormzy said.

“It has been a long time since I have been on stage like this … let's make this a great memory for us with dance, vibes and energy.”

Friday's concert is only his third of the year and follows back-to-back shows at the Reading and Leeds music festivals in Britain.

So, did he appear rusty?

While his trademark ferocious energy may have seemed a little tempered, there was no doubt about the genuine enthusiasm exhibited on stage.

Simply put: the man is happy to be back at work.

With a DJ in the background and the venue brought to life with evocative lightning and high-tech visuals, Stormzy pounced on stage to the imperial-sounding horn blasts of opener Big Michael, a strident motivational anthem fit for these times.

Then came Audacity, another bouncy number packed with frenzied keyboards and a stuttering beat to showcase Stormzy's impressively nimble flow.

The energy grew further with Cold and First Things First, both of which benefited from swaggering synth lines and heaving percussion before Stormzy eventually slowed it down gracefully with the one-two punch of Crown and Own It.

Taken from his latest album Heavy is the Head, both tracks epitomise the blend of gruff lyricism, pop hooks and soulful instrumentation responsible for his crossover from club act to festival headliner.

The Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix after-race concerts continue with Grammy-nominated artist Lewis Capaldi performing on Saturday before rock titans and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Foo Fighters conclude the series on Sunday.

More information on all the Yasalam After-Race Concerts is available at

The crowd at Stormzy's show. Khushnum Bhandari/The National
Updated: December 10, 2021, 7:43 PM