ABU DHABI // Rapper Kanye West, rockers Linkin Park and pop legend Prince will round off the Formula One concert series in November.
The organisers of the 2010 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix announced the star line-up for the post-race shows yesterday, as well as the free Yasalam entertainment programme inspired by the race events. John Lickrish, the managing director of Flash Entertainment, said: "We picked a group that we thought would be appealing to everyone.
"So whether you're a fan or not of Prince, for example, I think people are going to say, 'I want to see what the hype is all about.'"
Through a career spanning more than 30 years, Prince has had 10 platinum records and an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
West, who has blazed international charts with tracks such as Gold Digger and Touch the Sky, will kick off the performances on Friday, November 12.
Linkin Park, known for angst-ridden rap-rock hits including Crawling and Numb, will take the stage on Yas Island the following night. Prince, the singer behind chart hits such as Purple Rain and When Doves Cry, closes the F1 events on Sunday, November 14. "The one common thread is, all of these performers are fantastic live," Mr Lickrish said. "And there is something to appeal to every segment - the younger audience and the older audience."
Although those without F1 tickets cannot go to the Yas Island shows, everyone will have the chance to party to live music performed by Grammy-winning artists as part of the Yasalam celebrations. Beats on the Beach, which is open to all from November 10 to 13, will complement the F1 weekend by bringing pop acts such as the reggae artist Sean Paul and the US R&B vocalist Kelis to the Corniche. Stages built on the sand will also host the Lebanese pop star Nancy Ajram, one of the Arab world's best-selling female singers, as well as Fares Karam, who specialises in the Arabic dabke style.
Last year's Yasalam events drew nearly half a million people, according to Flash. "If we reach that number again I'll be very happy," Mr Lickrish said. "If we get above that, then I'll be happy too." Yasalam's month-long Live Across the City and Live on Abu Dhabi Corniche programmes also include motorsports-inspired art exhibits, prize giveaways, stunt shows, parades, racing simulator trials and outdoor cinema screenings.
"It's really nice to see the whole city come together like that," Mr Lickrish said. Securing Prince for an appearance in the capital was a three-year campaign. "I met with Prince's people the first time I came to Abu Dhabi three years ago, and we discussed an opportunity for him to come and perform," Mr Lickrish said. The F1 concert will be the flamboyant songwriter's first live performance in the Middle East. Prince has not toured extensively in recent years, which should make the Abu Dhabi experience all the more special.
Mr Lickrish said: "I heard rumours that he was going to do a couple of one-off shows again, so we reached out to Live Nation and asked if that was true. "They said, yes, he knows about the Middle East, it's somewhere he hasn't been before. He really wants to come here. I think you can't really deny artists when they're so anxious to perform in your city." Mr Lickrish also revealed that plans were under way as far back as last year to snag Linkin Park, who had given "verbal confirmation" that they would keep their books open for the 2010 Formula One in Abu Dhabi.
"It was a big coup for us because they're big F1 fans. We had done that very early, and the contract came very early as well," he said. The outspoken West, as famous recently for his tirades at music awards as his music, expressed interest in playing Abu Dhabi in December, but missed Flash's booking confirmation deadline. "We've been trying to do a show with Kanye for a while now. We almost had him once," Mr Lickrish said. "Kanye has played in Dubai, but he was interested in coming here and restarting his live performances here."
While Flash said yesterday they were proud this year to match the quality of last year's F1 concert lineup, the number of shows dropped to three, against 2009's four. The 2009 concert series featured Beyonce, Kings of Leon, Jamiroquai and Aerosmith. Mr Lickrish said that the decision to keep this year's performances to three nights was an issue of audience fatigue. "Three shows after three nights is a lot to absorb," he said. "I think with the fourth show, you could really feel in the atmosphere that people were getting tired, because it's a lot to go out four nights in a row."
Ticket purchasing and pricing information for the 2010 Formula 1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix can be found at www.yasmarinacircuit.com