Review: Beats on The Beach in Abu Dhabi kicks off with Yeng Constantino and Shamma Hamdan delivering crowd-pleasing sets

Beats on The Beach provided the artists a chance to reach out to a wider audience.

Shamma Hamdan performs at Beats on the Beach on the Ab Dhabi Corniche on November 24, 2016. The Dubai-based Emirati singer emerged on to the scene in 2012 as a finalist in Arab Got Talent.
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The Abu Dhabi F1 party got started on Thursday on the Abu Dhabi Corniche.

The free music festival, Beats on The Beach, kicked off with over 20,000 people in attendance to see a varied programme featuring the likes of Filipino pop sensation Yeng Constantino, Emirati singer Shamma Hamdan and UK rap duo Krept and Konan.

With all the artists blessed with their own dedicated fan base, the opportunity to perform in front such an eclectic crowd — with nationalities ranging from Emirati, Egyptian and Lebanese to Filipinos, Nepalese, Pakistani and Indians — was an opportunity to have their music reach new ears.

It was a chance and challenge, according to the night’s headliner Constantino. The 27-year-old, who arrived in Abu Dhabi on the back of a greatest hits tour celebrating 10 years in the industry, admitted to feeling the jitters moments before hitting the stage. “This kind of show is very different,” she said. “I really had to plan for this show and make the programme different so that it appeals to as many people as I can, and not just Filipinos here. This makes me nervous because I really want to entertain people and get them all involved.”

Constantino had nothing to worry about. The crowd was friendly enough when they welcomed her on stage, but they were truly in her corner once she began to showcase her show-stopping voice. In addition to her Filipino hits, including the bubbly Ikaw and the folksy Pag Ibig, Constantino did a fine job of covering the Aretha Franklin classic (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman.

Earlier in the evening saw an energetic performance of Krept and Konan.

For the South London duo, the Beats on The Beats gig was one of the biggest shows of their career in terms of audience numbers. Normally used to playing in more intimate and rowdy club surroundings, Casyo "Krept" Johnson and Karl "Konan" Wilson (both 27-years-of age), kept the crowd active with a fast moving set that included the boisterous hit Freak of the Weak and edgy trap music sounds of Last Night.

“We did this show because it was good challenge for us,” said Krept backstage after the show. “We had to go out there, to a new audience, play 45 minutes with no swearing. I think we did OK.”

Conan added: “It’s like training for us. Every show we do is like training for us, we learn what not to do and how to make it all better.”

Shamma Hamdan was the first of Thursday’s main live performance. The Dubai based Emirati singer was relaxed through out her fan favourite set.

A marked difference this time around is just how loose her band sounded musically. Ever since emerging on to the scene in 2012 as a finalist in Arab Got Talent, the 22-year-old had seemingly hidden her world music influences to instead focus on a more streamlined Khaleeji pop sound. While her new single Afeker Fiki (I Think of You) remains a standard pop song, rock and flamenco elements were apparent in its live treatment.

“I am happy with the show,” she said backstage. “The crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves and despite the different backgrounds a lot of them seemed to have know my songs. That surprised me and it just made me even more grateful.”:

Beats on The Beach continues Friday with performances by the Jamaican Dance Hall King Sean Paul, Arab boyband The 5, US hip-hop star Big Sean and Dubai based emerging talent Esther Eden.

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