Age before beauty, the idiom might go, but things were done rather differently in Abu Dhabi on Friday night. The beauty did, however, bring up the rear.
British youngster Tinchy Stryder got the party started at the Yas Arena, followed by fellow Brit Taio Cruz and Canadian Nelly Furtado, who topped the bill.
One has to pay one's dues, many artists learn the hard way, and this was the 24-year-old hip-hop artist's fate. But don't underestimate the enthusiasm of youth, though, for Stryder seemed unperturbed as he whizzed through his limited discography to a less-than-punctual audience. In our defence, though, who's ever heard of anything here starting on time?
Audio: Radio1's Selena speaks to Nelly Furtado
Stryder's handful of hits sounded quite good from outside the stadium, it must be added, and his clones rushing past were very entertaining, singing along word for word. His energetic set ended way too soon, with the audience still streaming in when he belted out his chart-topper Number 1.
Cruz was all suave in black when he strutted onto the stage. The R&B crooner stayed in character throughout his performance, not removing his trademark dark sunglasses once. He had the crowd at his feet, literally, singing at the barricade that kept the swooning girls at bay.
She's Like A Star was received enthusiastically, and Break Your Heart, arguably his biggest hit, caused a frenzy. Cruz went on to sing some of his lesser-known songs, mixing in some of his collaborations with artists like Ke$ha (Dirty Picture, a party song that translated well) and Kylie Minogue (Higher, a suitable climax to his set).
"I'm like a bird," sang Furtado to rapturous cheers, showing off a fuller figure and sporting chunky jewellery and a tights-and-tunic combo.
She went acoustic covering Gnarls Barkley's Crazy, telling the audience she's as crazy as they are. Then she did Broken Strings, her ballad with James Morrison, before returning to her own material with Maneater.
The Grammy Award-winner worked in more English and Spanish songs, including All Good Things (Come To An End), which suggested her set was following suit, and Powerless (Say What You Want). She then left the stage with her glittery earpiece and mike.
After a long pause it was a super-charged Nelly Furtado who returned with Turn Off The Light, doing the exact opposite. Looking very voluptuous in a mini dress (also black and purple, like her first ensemble), she upped the ante, a vast improvement on a first half that was decidedly lacklustre.
Working the stage from side to side in killer patent leather heels, her hip-hop collaborations and club anthems from her decade in the industry dominated. Give It To Me lacked Timbaland and Justin Timberlake, but few would've noticed. The crowd was willing to stay with her "till the morning after" (Morning After Dark), and even jumped when she said so (Jump).
"Oh, you don't mean nothing at all to me" she sang in Say It Right, but it was clear this wasn't directed at anyone in the audience.
Furtado had promised to go crazy, and she did. She had fun, and it showed.