Beyoncé Bowls Abu Dhabi Over

Adam Zacharias
Filed on November 1, 2009

ABU DHABI — The gargantuan Ferrari World venue opened for business on Thursday night, with R&B megastar Beyoncé performing a high-octane show to celebrate the arrival of Formula One in the capital.

Dripping in glamour, the Texan songbird took to the stage dressed in a gold spangly leotard with a bow at the back. She then kicked off proceedings with crowd-pleaser Crazy In Love, sending the packed stadium next to the Yas Island race circuit into a minor frenzy.

Joined on stage by a gaggle of dancers throughout the concert — the ladies wearing figure-hugging sequinned numbers, the men sporting cheese-grating six-packs — Beyoncé kept the tempo high until it was time for the inevitable costume change, re-emerging in a celestial white leotard with flowing gown.

For the mid-section of her show, the 28-year-old focused on ballads from her latest album I Am...Sasha Fierce such as Broken Hearted Girl and the powerful If I Were A Boy. During the latter, the diva suddenly rocked out into a brief rendition of Alanis Morrisette’s You Oughta Know, drawing a rapturous response from fans.

Jay-Z’s other half also sang a moving cover of At Last from last year’s musical biopic Cadillac Records, in which she starred.

The Etta James tune was accompanied by a background video containing footage from civil rights rallies in the 1960s, before finishing with a clip of Beyoncé singing the tune to Barack Obama and wife Michelle at his White House inauguration.

Destiny’s Child fans weren’t left disappointed on the night, as the on-stage troupe also whipped into a brief medley of hits by the girl band — the best-selling of all time with 50 million records shifted — including Bootylicious and Bug A Boo.

After disappearing off stage for another costume change, a humorous video montage showed fans of all shapes and sizes trying to copy Beyoncé’s saucy music video for Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It). At first, the audience seemed concerned the star wouldn’t perform the track live — as she hadn’t with recent single Sweet Dreams — but Beyoncé returned to the stage in a black outfit with chest armour to belt out the hip-jiggling tune. Kanye West would have most certainly approved.

For the encore, the audience were treated to an extended version of recent hit single Halo, including footage of Beyoncé as a child, a tribute to Michael Jackson and a rendition of Happy Birthday to one lucky fan.

The singer even emerged into the crowd, walking alongside the ramps which stretched out into the throng of people, before wishing Abu Dhabi a fond farewell as the curtain closed in front of her.

“Beyoncé looked incredible,” said 24-year-old gig-goer Olivia White afterwards. “It was the best show I’ve seen in the UAE. My favourite song was ‘Single Ladies’ because it really got the crowd going. She was bang in tune the whole time — I can’t believe she can spend all that time leaping around the stage and not run out of breath.”

Holidaymaker Harkii Heran, visiting from the UK, said: “The venue looked amazing. To see such a mesmerising concert in such a spectacular location was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Beyoncé’s voice was so powerful and she looked stunning, especially in her gold outfit. I’ll be talking about this concert for ages.”

However, matters became a little more complicated as thousands flooded out of the glistening outdoor stadium. Transport away from Yas Island was muddled, with many confused fans wandering between various pick-up points trying to elicit information from equally confused stewards. Let’s chalk it up to first-night nerves, and hope they manage to smooth out operations for the remaining concerts.

Nonetheless, it was a memorable night — far from putting in a half-hearted performance, Beyoncé revved up F1 fans with glimpses of both herself and alter ego Sasha Fierce. With a sometimes risqué stage show mixing cheek and charm, the singer showcased why she’s one of the biggest icons in music

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