DUBAI // Music fans gathered at Dubai’s Festival City last night for the launch of a weekend of sounds from some of the world’s biggest names in rock and pop.
The US pop singer Mike Posner lifted the curtain for the double bill, and was followed by Pharrell Williams and N.E.R.D with their eclectic mix of hip-hop and rock, on the first night of Gulf Bike Week.
Posner, 22, kicked off a 25-minute set with the hit Please Don’t Go.
Helen Morgan, 22, from Wales, said she bought her tickets for Posner as soon as they went on sale.
“He’s one of the best singers around at the moment and I knew he’d be good live. He’s got one of those voices that has lots of different styles … it’s such happy music.”
Posner’s army of female fans screamed in the crowd as he belted out his raunchy number – Bow Chicka Wow Wow.
Organisers said around 4,000 tickets had been sold, but significantly fewer music fans were on time for the start of Posner’s concert.
In spite of the crowd size the singer kept the audience engaged, telling them to keep up the pace before finally closing with an energetic rendition of his debut hit single Cooler Than Me. He approached fans in the front row to thank them for their support.
Posner started singing in 2008 and signed his first record deal to J Records while still at university in the US. Cooler Than Me reached number six in the US last year.
N.E.R.D, formed among school friends, are now old hands after more than 10 years on the scene.
This is their first time in the UAE, but the band have spent years on the road, travelling the world including stops in Tokyo and Australia.
Hip-hop fans turned up decked out in N.E.R.D inspired fashions; low slung jeans and sideways-turned baseball caps.
Adam Carney, 31, from America, a fan of Pharrell Williams, said: “I’ve seen N.E.R.D in the US before and they’re an amazing live band that really responds to what the crowd wants. I just hope Pharrell does some of his own stuff too.”
Long haired and tattooed Doug Radcliffe from New Zealand, a Harley Davidson fanatic, went to see N.E.R.D after visiting Gulf Bike Week. “They’ve been around for years so while I was here you can’t not see them,” he said. “They’re one of the biggest names in hip-hop.”
Around 20,000 people had been expected at the day’s events for Gulf Bike Week, from BMX enthusiasts to skateboarders.
Ahmed Majid from Iraq was picking up stunt tips at the bike show but was excited to be seeing N.E.R.D. The 23-year-old said: “It’s not often you get to see such big hip-hop bands over here. “Mostly the concerts are a bit more mainstream so this is amazing.”
Thomas Oveson, chief operating officer of Done Events which organised the weekend’s concerts, said he wanted to bring a more sophisticated artist to appeal to the older crowd with Pharrell Williams and N.E.R.D, plus the more fresh-faced Mike Posner to attract the younger audience.
“We wanted entertainment that would fit with the different interests that the bike community has,” he said.
“It encompasses a whole range of people from rally bike fans to Harley Davidson enthusiasts, from young professionals to older bikers.”
Tonight the British singer Amy Winehouse is expected to draw a crowd of around 12,000.