Since Womad has been put on ice, Beats on the Beach serves as the next best thing to a world music festival. From Thursday to Saturday, nearly a dozen international, regional and local acts will perform on the picturesque beachside stage for a series of shows beginning in the afternoon and stretching out to the early hours of the morning. The best part of it all is that it is free and family-friendly.
From street to sand
One of the hallmarks of Beats on the Beach is its strong R&B and hip-hop line-up. This year’s selection is another healthy dose of leading names, new sounds and old favourites. Leading the gritty pack this year is the Atlanta rapper and actor Ludacris. Known for his bombastic and witty wordplay, he comes to the capital on Friday with the hits Stand Up, Money Maker and Runaway Love. Joining him that night is the Jamaican-American rapper Sean Kingston. Known for his bubblegum pop hit Beautiful Girls, the 23-year-old returns to the UAE after surviving a near-death boating accident last year. The R&B starlet Ciara also appears on Friday night with her army of dancers to perform hits 1,2 Step and Goodies. After a favourable performance at Sandance in Dubai last year, the UK singer Labrinth comes to Abu Dhabi performing tracks from his hit album Electronic Earth including the global hit Earthquake. Labrinth is a solid live performer who gets busy on stage playing multiple instruments including acoustic guitar.
The talent show-stoppers
It is now time for Mohammed Assaf to finally show Abu Dhabi some love. The Palestinian Arab Idol winner makes his debut at the capital on Friday performing with his fellow former contestant Salma Rachid, from Morocco. On Saturday, it will be mixture of old and new as the veteran Lebanese crooner and The Voice mentor Assi El Helani headlines alongside the UAE’s rising star and former Arabs’ Got Talent finalist Shamma Hamdan. The Dubai performer has been finessing her live performance courtesy of a string of big concerts this year, including the du World Music Festival back in February.
Beats on the Beach also provides the rare chance to see some of the promising acts from the local music scene. Friday night will see the groove and funk collective Bull Funk Zoo take the stage armed with their heavy percussion, and the R&B vocal stylings of Hamdan Al Abri. That night will also find Beat Antenna bringing some guitar action to the stage. The Dubai rockers honed their live show courtesy of high-profile supporting slots for The Charlatans, Happy Mondays and Beady Eye. On Saturday, the Lebanese artist Jay Wud should bring the noise courtesy of his latest hard-rocking album, False Utopia, while Chronicles of Khan will showcase their deft fusion music with influences from Asia, African and Europe.
Filipino concerts are a big deal in the UAE; take the 10,000 people who crammed into the Dubai Media City Amphitheatre to see the garage rockers the Eraserheads earlier this year as a good indication. Gary Valenciano and Vina Morales should also command a large following on Friday night courtesy of their success at home and abroad. Valenciano will have a hard task picking a setlist considering the 28 albums he has already released. The singer and actress Morales will bring along selections from her extensive 16-album catalogue to Abu Dhabi.
• Beats on the Beach is at the Abu Dhabi Corniche from Thursday to Saturday. The concert action begins at 7.30pm. For details go to www.yasalam.ae