Jason Derulo makes triumphant UAE return at Beats on The Beach

The American pop star and his half a dozen dancers put on entertaining set that was part hit-fest and part Glee.

Jason Derulo at du Arena on Friday night. Courtesy Flash Entertainment
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The American pop star and his half a dozen dancers put on entertaining set that was part hit-fest and part Glee.

It was only 30 seconds into the driving opener In My Head, that Derulo and his crew executed a few dizzying flips. By the time Whatcha Say and the bouncy Ridin' Solo arrived Derulo was a sweaty mess as he exhibited various choreographed routines, from walking hand-stands to shoulder shimmies.

For such manic energy on display something had to give; there was a fair bit of lip-synching going on – then again it is impossible to croon the longing of Breathing after you just executed your umpteenth flip.

The evening also saw the debut Middle East performance of Miguel. The Los Angeles R&B singer is a rising name in the pop world courtesy of his brilliant 2012 album Kaleidoscope Dream. UAE fans proved they are in the know when it comes to good word of mouth music; fans sang along to Miguel's singles Adorn, Do You… and How Many Drinks?

A special world must also go to his solid four-piece band, who did a fine job of conjuring up the dense and swirling atmospherics central to Miguel’s sound.

Speaking backstage after the performance, Miguel said he was taken aback by the crowd’s familiarity with his work. “It’s very trippy and it is hard to put in words,” he said. “I am from Los Angeles and I made music that people thought would go nowhere. To be here years later in a beautiful place like Abu Dhabi and having the fans here sing along is special and is hard to really put into words.”

Another performer feeling the burden of the moment was the Ruweida Al Mahrouqi. Speaking back stage moments before stepping on to the stage in the evening, she confessed to “being very nervous”.

“It is a really big crowd and a nice international mix,” she said. “It should be a good night. I like to think of my music as basically fun and something to enjoy. So I hope it translates well up there.”

After an indeed nervy beginning where Al Mahrouqi seemed to wander aimlessly around the stage, she and band eventually hit their stride with the Khaleeji pop Qalbek Fi Yadi and the solid new single Fadiha.