With the Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November fast approaching, it is time to begin the guessing game on who will perform as part of the after-race concerts at the Du Arena during the racing weekend. What we already know, courtesy of an earlier announcement by promoter Flash Entertainment in July, is that dance producer Calvin Harris will kick off the series on November 23, while American pop star Pink is the choice for the prestigious race day concert on November 26. This leaves November 24 and 25 open – and judging by previous years, we reckon it will be filled by either big urban-music name, a heritage act or rockers.
While we wait for the imminent official announcements, here are our picks on who may arrive in the capital for the big race.
We got this half right last year. While The National did predict the hip-hop heavyweight would be attending the Abu Dhabi F1 for a performance, we didn't expect that it would be for a series of intimate gigs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai clubs. We are confident to make the same claim again this year, tough, thanks to the fact that Drake announced an Australian and New Zealand tour a fortnight ago, a jaunt that ends a few days before the race weekend.
The Abu Dhabi F1 crowd loves a good singalong, and Flash have duly obliged over the years by hosting some vintage acts with enviable hits catalogues, ranging from Paul McCartney and Kylie Minogue to last year's stellar performance by Lionel Richie. We expect this year to be no different, with a heritage act likely to be added to the bill. Judging by what we saw at the Singapore F1 Grand Prix over the past weekend, Duran Duran would be an ideal choice. Touring their new album Paper Gods, the band are in top form, with frontman and 1980s icon Simon Le Bon relishing big-crowd events such as the F1. The band have yet to announce shows for the rest of the year, so another race concert could be on the cards.
The Canadian has a large fan base in the region and what better way to perform his debut full Middle Eastern concert than the Formula One. It is well known that the R&B star has an affinity for supercars – his growing collection includes a McLaren P1 – so an opportunity to attend the big race and party with the likes of driver and urban-music lover Lewis Hamilton could be a consideration. Best of all, there is an intriguing gap in The Weeknd's tour diary, with the vacant Abu Dhabi dates arriving just a few days before the beginning of an Australian and New Zealand tour – will he make a pit stop on the way?
A long shot admittedly, but local promoters have been chasing the rock giants for a UAE performance for the past four years – maybe this will be the opportunity. The band, led by a once-again fully walking Dave Grohl, have just released new album Concrete and Gold, and the band are raring to go, with a large world tour in the works. The F1 dates fall in a two-week break before the six-piece kick off a mammoth North American tour. What better way to blow off those cobwebs than with a raucous show in Abu Dhabi.
Look, if it ain't broke why fix it. The two times that promoters Flash brought Metallica to the capital, the group were greeted by a regional audience of more than 20,000 people. With the group taking off the last two months of the year, maybe they were persuaded to end their working year in style with an F1 show. If that is the case, then the gig should be the loudest concert Abu Dhabi has seen since the last Metallica performance in 2013.