x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Kings of Leon to play at Grand Prix

Line-up for F1 concert series is complete with naming of the American alternative rock band, which is set to play October 31.

The Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill performs at the Hurricane Festival in Scheessel, Germany, in June.
The Kings of Leon frontman Caleb Followill performs at the Hurricane Festival in Scheessel, Germany, in June.

ABU DHABI // Kings of Leon, the US rock band, will play at Yas Island on October 31 after the qualifying sessions for the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, it was announced yesterday. With another alternative US band, The Killers, due to play in the capital on December 8, fans yesterday praised what they saw as the emergence of less mainstream and more left-field rock acts on to the UAE events calendar.

There was still some surprise, however, that Kings of Leon, who have never previously played in the region, were coming to Abu Dhabi. "My brother saw them a few years ago in Chicago and said they were the best band he'd ever seen," said Caryl Cook, 31, a Canadian IT specialist living in the capital. "I wouldn't have expected them to play here - usually you can't look past the pop stars like Christina Aguilera, who was very good, but just the usual standard name.

Geoff Arundel, 27, a transport consultant from Lincolnshire in the UK, said he had already bought tickets for the Grand Prix for himself and three family members and was now looking forward to the post-qualifying concert. "I'm pleased I bought my [F1] ticket already, because for sure you're going to see so many more people coming forward to try and get a piece of the action because of these concerts.

"Kings of Leon is a totally different name for here. It shows they want to get themselves known for bringing over different names, having some variety. It doesn't mean a revolution, but you've got to hope for someone else to come that makes you sit back and take notice." Confirmation of the gig completes the line-up of major acts taking part in the Yasalam series of events programmed for the Formula One weekend. The American pop diva Beyoncé, the acid jazz outfit Jamiroquai and the US rock band Aerosmith will also play on Yas Island.

Beyoncé's concert is on Thursday, October 29, Jamiroquai's the following night after the practice sessions, Kings of Leon's on the Saturday and Aerosmith's on race day. Only people who have bought tickets for the Grand Prix will be admitted to the concerts. Those with two-day tickets - for Saturday and Sunday - will be able to attend only the events on those days, but three-day tickets will be good for all four.

Two-day tickets cost between Dh1,500 (US$410) and Dh2,000, with three-day passes between Dh1,600 and Dh2,500. A number of shoppers interviewed in Abu Dhabi Mall yesterday said they were disappointed they would not be able to buy tickets just for the concerts. Johann Scharr, 17, a Swiss national staying with his sister in the capital, said: "This is too expensive for only one concert. Kings of Leon is a very exciting band."

Kings of Leon, who are behind such hits as Molly's Chambers, Use Somebody and Sex on Fire, have yet to score a number one single in the US mainstream charts, despite the most recent of their four albums, Only by the Night, reaching platinum in the US and five times platinum in the UK. Sex on Fire, their biggest hit so far, won a Grammy award this year. The band, originally from Tennessee and comprising the brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared Followill and their cousin Matthew Followill, first emerged on the music scene in 2003 with the release of their album Youth and Young Manhood, though early on they were more successful in the UK than in their native country.

John Lickrish, managing director of Flash Entertainment, which is organising the concerts, said Kings of Leon had been on his radar for at least six months. "I think, with bands like The Killers and Kings of Leon and a few others we have got coming up, we are trying to diversify." Flash had initially preferred to sign "heavy hitters, the sure things" such as Justin Timberlake, he said, adding that he now wanted to "explore different bands and offer more variety".

Details of a New Year's Eve concert with "a few international hip-hop guys and DJs" and a smaller music festival on the Corniche are expected to be confirmed by Flash in the coming weeks, Mr Lickrish said. rhughes@thenational.ae