Free concert series rocks into gear at Yasalam

US hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean, Korean pop star Seo in Young and Lebanese singer Hisham El Hajj kick off the fun as thousands head to gig.
One of the performers at the Beats on the Beach free concert last night at the capital's Corniche.
One of the performers at the Beats on the Beach free concert last night at the capital's Corniche.

ABU DHABI //Take one Haitian hip-hop star, add an Emirati DJ and throw in a Korean pop idol for good measure - then shake it.

That was exactly what the thousands who attended the first night of Beats on the Beach at the Corniche last night were able to do.

The line-up of local, regional and international artists on the free programme provided a great night's entertainment, a whole lot of love for their audience and a few lessons in how to enjoy oneself.

"If you're having a really good time, put your hands up in the air right now," instructed the Emirati Marwan Parham, also known as DJ Bliss. "Tonight's definitely going to be a good night. You're sounding good, Abu Dhabi."

More advice from the vocalist and guitarist Elias Sabella, of the Dubai hard rock band The Flaming Trees: "Clap your hands, everybody. For all those rockers out there, enjoy."

The headline act for the night, the US hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean, was joined by other international performers including the Korean pop star Seo In Young and the popular Lebanese singer Hisham El Hajj.

"It's my first time in Abu Dhabi," said Seo, the singer, model, dancer, actress and TV host who left the K-pop group Jewelry to pursue a solo career. "I've been dreaming to come to this country … I'm glad to be here. Thank you for being here tonight."

The South Korean pupil Andrew Kim, 15, needed no thanking: "We've come here specially for her."

Andrew, a pupil at Raha International School in the capital, went to Beats on the Beach with his brother TK, 29, and mum Hansook Na, 53, who arrived front-stage two hours before the show was to start.

"She dances and sings well and is very popular," he said, adding he planned to return tonight for the Korean girl band Nine Muses.

But for Shelia Gilliam, 43, the night was all about Wyclef.

"Wyclef is a phenomenal entertainer," said Ms Gilliams, a US educator who arrived in Abu Dhabi three months ago. She saw him perform at the 2004 Music Midtown in Atlanta.

"I've been a fan since. He's into country, gospel, R&B and hip-hop music. He's extremely talented."

Judging by his messages on Twitter on Tuesday, Jean was also looking forward to the concert: "Nex stop Abu Dhabi I'm on ETIHAD Air, get ready for the ShoW! … See u Soon."

And as if those in the audience were not already happy enough, Dubai's Canadian singer-songwriter Danny Shirran, the lead singer of Danny Band, topped up the feel-good levels.

Shirran, playing songs from their first studio album Long Time Comin', told the crowd it was "awesome" to see them support local talent.

"I've not seen a crowd like this in Abu Dhabi," he said. "Thanks so much, Abu Dhabi. Love it!"

Beats on the Beach, one of the many Yasalam events this month, runs until Saturday. All concerts are free.

Published: November 10, 2011 04:00 AM


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