x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Rumour has it … Just who is going to play Abu Dhabi's F1 concert?

It could be The Rolling Stones. It won't be Justin Bieber. Ahead of the announcement of the legendary act who'll grace Abu Dhabi's F1 after-race show, we try and read the runes.

The Rolling Stones. Will they, won't they? Chris Jackson / Getty Images
The Rolling Stones. Will they, won't they? Chris Jackson / Getty Images

The news that Kylie Minogue and Nickelback have been booked to perform at the Abu Dhabi F1 after-race concerts may have excited their fans in the region, but many out there were somewhat nonplussed by the announcement.

After all, although they are big acts who have sold more than 50 billion records (or thereabouts), they've both been here before, with Nickelback making an appearance in Dubai just two years ago. But they're both safe, dependable choices - a bit like ordering spaghetti Bolognese in an Italian restaurant.

Which brings speculation to the as-yet-unannounced third night, the finale, which is expected to be announced by noon today.

In the past we've had Paul McCartney and Prince, so it's clear that whoever takes the stage needs to be rather special. Current rumours point to The Rolling Stones, which would certainly fulfil the "wow" factor. Supporting this gossip are reports that the band are rehearsing again, with hints of four gigs in London and New York towards the end of November and a 50th anniversary tour next year. Will they swoop in on Abu Dhabi on November 5?

If The Rolling Stones are announced, it would definitely slot nicely into the template that has been moulded over the past few years.

Day one is usually reserved for pop - past acts have included Beyoncé, Kanye West and Britney Spears. Day two could probably be categorised as "Er, OK, really?", with Nickelback following on from The Cult and Incubus last year and Linkin Park in 2010. And with McCartney and Prince both having had closing honours, the last night seems clearly titled "legends", and few would suggest the Stones are anything but.

However, before you start looking for your crumpled lips T-shirt (or buy one from H&M or wherever they're sold these days), it's probably worth noting that the "Rolling Stones in Abu Dhabi" rumour has cropped up before without bearing fruit. Also, the boys do have a habit of falling out, insulting each other in autobiographies and cancelling things.

So, if not Mick, Keith, Ronnie and the drummer, who else?

A quick glance at touring schedules brings up The Killers, but they're supposed to be in Wales on November 5 (plus they've been here before and nobody really cares about them anymore).

Jack White is also around and has that evening free. But squeezing Abu Dhabi between his UK gigs - Bridlington Spa the night before and the Blackpool Empress Ballroom the night after - could be a bit much.

Lady Gaga will be taking her Born This Way Ball on the road during this time and has to be in Bogota the next night (she is playing in Costa Rica on November 3).

Carrie Underwood? Hopefully not (she is just a bit on the dull side), but the fifth is one of the few free slots on her US tour.

And, alas, Justin Bieber will be in Washington, DC, that night - devastating news, no doubt, for the Gulf's many "Beliebers".

What about Coldplay? They will be in Auckland on November 10 following a European tour this month, so there definitely is time for a cheeky UAE pit stop. The only trouble is, they played in Abu Dhabi in 2009 and again on New Year's Eve last year, and they're, well, Coldplay.

Then again, it doesn't have to be someone who's touring, a factor that throws up a whole host of names.

Take U2. They're big enough but don't generally do one-off shows (the cost of transporting Bono's leather trousers by private jet is too much), and they only finished their massive world tour last year.

Rod Stewart? Legend, certainly, and he's just set to embark on a month-long tour of the US. But he has played in Dubai before.

So where does that leaves us? Absolutely nowhere. It could be Coldplay. It could be Rod Stewart. Who knows, it could be a holographic ensemble made up of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury and John Lennon.

Actually, that's probably the best idea of the lot.