ABU DHABI // Music industry writers and critics are expecting the concert line-up to be a hit, especially the first Middle East performance by Prince. The singer's decision to perform in the UAE could be "a way of re-entering the live arena but bypassing the US and European live circuit", said Ed Potton, music writer for The Times in London.
"It sounds like another example of Prince's rather maverick attitude towards playing and releasing music over the last few years," he said. Across the capital, Sean Paul, Nancy Ajram, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and Kelis, all performing free to the public between November 10 to 14 as part of the Yasalam programme of entertainment events coinciding with the Grand Prix, will add to the eclectic mix that is on offer.
Prince, the biggest act announced yesterday, took an unconventional approach to distributing his last two albums through giveaways in national newspapers rather than record labels. He played several shows in Europe in the summer and is set to perform in Scandinavia later this year, but has mostly stayed off the stage since 2007. His show in Abu Dhabi will be "quite a coup", said Alun Palmer, the showbusiness writer for the Daily Mirror. "People will travel from all over the world to see him," he said.
The bands during the Grand Prix will be a fusion of diverse music genres, said Matt Wilkinson, a writer for NME magazine. The rock band Linkin Park, for example, has wide appeal due to a collaboration with rapper Jay-Z several years ago, he said. "This band came out 10 years ago, along with Limp Bizkit and Korn, and lost its course along the way but still manages to headline festivals," Wilkinson said.
Marrying live music with Formula One motor racing is part of a bigger trend of tying live performances with the Grand Prix so that televised highlights of the event are better, said Gordon Masson, Music Week magazine's live concert critic. "The concept of blending rock 'n' roll with high octane racing is a bit of a no-brainer," he said. "The opportunities for sponsors to engage with a potentially new and younger audience, makes this a really good bolt-on for the Formula One brand."
Because the race itself takes up so little time over the course of the weekend, adding a strong line-up would keep visitors and viewers happy, said Jon Webster, the chief executive officer of the Music Managers Forum, which represents managers of major recording artists. "They need to give the fans another reason to go and another reason to spend money, and obviously, people are willing to pay for that live entertainment," he said.
The acts are a draw for people who are not race fans, said Mel Tyler, general manager for Midas Promotions in Dubai. "They realise that it isn't just the petrol heads who enjoy the racing but that there's also a separate market and that they could add another dimension to this event," said Mr Tyler, who promoted a Kanye West show in Singapore last month.