One of the hardest jobs in the music business has to be those of Chris Brown’s backup dancers.
Scroll through the above gallery to see the action from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix.
Several times during the show, they struggled to keep up with the RnB star as his silky voice and nimble feet blazed through a stellar set at the Jeddah Corniche Circuit.
Say what we will about Brown’s questionable behaviour off the stage, but for those not paying attention, he has been so prolific and consistent that in 2020 he became the first RnB act to score 100 entries on the US Billboard charts.
With such a catalogue, it’s no wonder Brown blitzed through them during his hour-long set: early hits such as Run It! were delivered in chorus form while club anthems Deuces and Beautiful People were given the full treatment.
Despite the energy onstage, Brown cut an almost demure figure on stage. Perhaps it was a wise choice, as it offered a rare chance to appreciate a controversial artist fully focused and in his element.
Black Eyed Peas give us the feelings
The Black Eyed Peas delivered the same intensity in their preceding performance.
However, in the hands of the US hip-hop crew, it translated to unbridled joy in a brilliantly cohesive and inclusive set.
The group also showed their pedigree as the go-to name for global events. They arrived in Jeddah on the back of their triumphant Expo 2020 Dubai performance in January and a similar after-race concert as part of the 2018 Saudia Ad Diriyah E-Prix in Riyadh.
This is not to mention similar global sporting events such as the 2011 NFL Super Bowl XLV in the US, the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.
Why the demand? Simply put, the group has reached the promised land when it comes to their catalogue.
Vast, eclectic and encompassing various languages including English, Spanish and Tagalog, their world tours have become juggernauts with sold-out shows at venues from Egypt’s pyramids to South American stadiums.
Add to that a dose of idealism and heartfelt moments, encapsulated in mass singalongs such as Where Is the Love? and I Gotta Feeling, and you have an enduring spectacle fit for any purpose.
Saudi F1 has its own flavour
More than the strong line-up of artists, including 2021 headliners David Guetta and Justin Bieber, the event is forging its own identity across various aspects of the Grand Prix.
This is highlighted in the official F1 Village, available to grandstand ticket holders. While filled with family activities, from rides to pop-up shops we've come to expect from such zones, it is powered by a keen sense of purpose.
“Overtaking the future” is the official slogan of the race, and that’s displayed at various cultural and professional booths and stands in the area.
At the kingdom's Ministry of Culture pavilion, for example, 2022 is designated as the Year of Saudi Coffee.
Five booths are set up where visitors can taste various Saudi coffees from the north, eastern, central, western and southern regions.
“You need to taste them all because it is a trip,” says caffeine guide Ruba Nadeem. “In Saudi Arabia, if you begin from the northern area, in cities like Tabuk, the coffee is very dark roasted. However, once you keep going towards the south right towards a place like Al Bahah, the coffee is very mild and lightly roasted."
Meanwhile, at the regal pavilion belonging to the Public Investment Fund, within earshot of the children's carousel, the organisation’s focus on 13 strategic local sectors, including aerospace, automotive, transport and logistics, is being promoted.
More adult conversations are found in the exclusive Paddock Club, where influencers such as the UK’s Yung Filly and Chunkz are intermingling alongside executives from Saudi Airlines and Dunkin' — the latter hosting its own soiree complete with the sweet treats and coffee the brand is renowned for.
British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was also mobbed by fans near the F1 pit lanes.
“The Saudi F1 is getting better and it is having a vibe of its own,” said a representative from what went on to be the winning Red Bull Racing team, summing up the atmosphere.