Roll Up, Roll Up it’s the F1 Circus

That was a tough race this evening for me. My race just didn’t quite come together and I’m not really sure why as I gave it my all out there.” Lewis Hamilton 

So the fifth Abu Dhabi Grand Prix event is over, another great weekend  full of some new and different experiences, some really good and some not, Depeche Mode that is aimed at you!

IMG_1847Tickets Ready, Lets Go

So it’s not all about the racing for us, I know shocking for any F1 fans reading, it’s all about what goes on around the track, the concerts and the partying! This year our experience was enhanced by a yacht day courtesy of good friends on Friday which included an access all areas Yas Marina passes. Sat sipping champagne on the yacht, overlooking some of the hugest boats I have ever seen, I definitely enjoyed watching the partying of the elite. Chilling out with a cocktail or two at the pop up Cavalli Caffe in the Yas Viceroy Hotel, embellished with monochrome zebra print pillars, the first two practice sessions whizzed around the track and under the hotel.

IMG_8106Biggest vessel in Yas Marina at 77 metres, owned by the Dubai Royal family according to Google

Abu Dhabi changes over the four-day Formula One weekend as the celebrities and beautiful people came to town, it’s all Botox, boob jobs, hair extensions and Herve Leger dresses complimented by a range of red soled shoes, alongside the actual motor racing fans in logo emblazoned shirts. It’s really one extreme to the other, on one hand wall-to-wall champagne and ridiculous sized and over priced bottles of vodka (P Diddy assets must have swelled as his Ciroc vodka adorned most tables) in chic busy bars, with the glamorous looking for sugar daddies to pay their bar bills, compared to shawarma, fries and semi-warm beer in the concert arena.

IMG_8098View across Yas Marina

The highlight of the F1 for us is the concerts, well usually that is! In previous years, we have seen Aerosmith, Prince, Paul McCartney and Eminem as headliners but this years top billed act was 80s Electro pop band Depeche Mode! I was looking forward to seeing Brooklyn’s finest rapper Jay Z and English rock band Muse. We dipped out on Thursdays nights entertainment which was a mixture the biggest Arab and Lebanese recording artists. and didn’t make it to ‘Beats on the Beach’ this year which featured free concerts from Ludacris, Sean Kingston, Labrinth and Ciara.

Jay Z, real name is Sean Carter is the biggest hip-hop star around right now and the hottest act on this years after race concert line-up in my opinion. New York born Carter has released twelve successful albums to date and this concert marked his debut in this region as part of his solo Magna Carta World Tour. The arena was packed and buzzing with anticipation, Mr Z did not disappoint wearing his stereotypical rapper large, heavy gold chain and snap back assemble, he opened with ‘U don’t know’ followed by ‘On to the Next One, ’99 Problems’ and all us hoping for an appearance by Justin Timberlake, were disappointed (but not completely unexpected) when he was a no-show during their ‘Holy Grail’ duet.

2013_1_jayz_galleryJay Z in full flow at Du Arena (Source:timeoutabudhabi.com)

All was going well unit the power outage that plunged the stage into silence and darkness and  Jay Z left the stage, very disgruntled I expect too (would have liked to be a fly on the wall backstage). With the crowd somewhat confused, fellow rapper/producer/MC Timbaland came on stage to keep the crowd entertained until Jay Z returned to a chorus of cheering fans. He fought to get the vibe going again and no doubt the unplanned stoppage caused the set list to be cut short, he finished off with crowd favourites ‘Hard Knock Life’ and the iconic ‘Empire State of Mind’.

UnknownPink Nipple anyone? (source:dubayevents)

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The weird and wonderful performers at Cirque Le Soir (source:godubai.com)

We headed over to Cirque Le Soir, another pop-up Dubai based venue that took over Rush Bar at the Yas Viceroy for the weekend bringing its risqué circus performers to the capital for the after party vibe. A few ‘Pink Nipples’ (a pink cocktail that resembled an alcoholic strawberry actimel, sounds yummy eh!!) and a bit of a boogie later, we saw a few of the freaky acts perform, leaving at 1am just as Nelly turned up  to do his set surrounded by some big beefy bouncers. We all regretted the ‘Pink Nipples’ later, some more than others!

museDC200510Muse, the three boys who made a big noise (source: NME)

IMG_2082Muse rocked Abu Dhabi

After a recovery day on the sofa, while over at the track Mark Webber booked his place on pole in qualifying, it was time to head back over to the Du Arena to see rockers Muse. Now I am not their biggest fan, as I am not to familiar with their back catalogue, but they were really good but super loud and bright, with a stage full of flashing lights and strobes. I was surprised that only three musicians could make that much noise! I did enjoy their hit ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ mainly because I recognised it from the Twilight saga and it certainly got the crowd joining in, the Queen like track ‘Panic Station’ was also a crowd favourite.

IMG_2110New sunset lounge at Yas Marina, Iris.

We headed back over to Yas Marina for some after drinks, taking a water taxi over to the newly opened Iris bar that was rammed with music pumping, drinks were pricy (standard) and slow to arrive as the staff struggled to keep up with demand but it’s a great ‘sunset lounge’ that is definitely on my list to check out again for dinner and drinks without the F1 chaos.

MAIN_MENUE_F1The action on the track (source:yasmarinacircuit.com)

So race day was upon us and it was time to watch the drivers in action. Ear plugs in, I was rooting for British favourite Lewis Hamilton, he started down the grid in fourth and didn’t make a podium finish, after crossing the line in seventh place. Sebastian Vettel won his seventh grand prix in a row and his third title at the Abu Dhabi circuit.  Over to the arena for the third night in a row, the teenager went home as not a fan, we waited to see my least anticipated performers Depeche Mode.

Seb_2721950bRace winner Sebastian Vettel (source:The Telegraph)

As predicted they were not a credible headline act, I wanted to be proved wrong, but sadly it was dull and the crowd thinned out steadily as they played tracks from their it seemed unknown new album, where was the 80’s classics the crowd wanted and knew the words to?? We stayed on much longer than most, as the other half wanted to hear ‘Personal Jesus’ which was the last track on the set list, we left before the encores to join the massive taxi queue, so I heard my favourite ‘ Just Can’t Get Enough’ from there. Lets hope that Flash Entertainment who organise the concerts, step up their game ready next year!

Unknown-1Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan trying to engage the crowd (source: timeoutdubai.com)

The F1 circus has rolled out-of-town onto the next event in Texas and Monday saw all the yachts leaving their Yas Marina berths, sailing past the apartment in a steady flow. The aftermath of the race has been the constant hum coming from the track of the week-long tyre testing that has started every day at 9am this week, carrying on long after the sun has set, oh joy!

IMG_2185One of the vessels on its way home

So I asked the teenager for her thoughts on her F1 experience this year and I was surprised to hear that Muse were her favourite, as she is a Jay Z fan and knows all of the words (worryingly!) including the raps and believe me when I say ALL THE WORDS and I know from enduring her constant singing in the car! Apparently her position at the front at the barrier attributed to them being in number one spot (other half jealous of that, he may be in his 40’s but in his head he’s still in his 20’s) and because Jay Z cut his set short. She wouldn’t be seen dead at Depeche Mode or with us either, but we were graced with her presence, albeit briefly at the race which she described as loud and boring! Eminem still ranks as her best F1 gig and her favourite ever concert so far!

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All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2013. All rights reserved. Additional information and photos used courtesy of www.yasmarinacircuit.com