There are times when all we want to do is singalong to a band playing Sweet Child O’Mine. Granted, those times are usually post-midnight, but they still exist.
A good covers band can reach places a DJ can’t, so if you’re like us and love to watch live music, here are the ten best places to do so in the capital.
The ten venues below were either nominated or winners in the Time Out Abu Dhabi Music & Nightlife Awards 2019. So you know they’re good.
Belgian Café Abu Dhabi
Here you can expect a good selection of Belgian hops, a decent happy hour and quality European dishes. During the cooler months the huge outdoor area, looking towards the hotel’s marina, is always packed with a lively crowd, and the post-brunch hours are particularly popular. The live music is excellent and it’s supported by a resident DJ.
Intercontinental Abu Dhabi, King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud Street (050 723 5441).
If you only go out to Saadiyat Island bars you can be forgiven for thinking that every night spot in the capital is super fancy. But everyone needs a good local, and Heroes is friendly, chilled out and requires no getting dolled-up for. Resident band The International Playboys play hit after hit, and it’s a fun place to unwind.
Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street (02 616 6132).
Jazz Bar & Dining
This venue is built around a striking blue-lit stage and the fantastic house bands are always the main event. But the set list isn’t limited to jazz tracks (despite what the name suggests) and the excellent pop, funk and soul covers are perfect to sing along to.
Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Abu Dhabi Corniche, Corniche Road West (02 692 4247).
This isn’t like the Pizza Express that you visited for a quiet lunch back at home. It’s more of a slick, lively jazz bar which also provides pizzas and lots of dough balls. It’s not a place for a quiet conversation, but the talented musicians will soon have you tapping your feet and singing along.
The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center Abu Dhabi (02 444 7752).
Any good Irish pub has to have brilliant live music, and McGettigans certainly doesn’t disappoint. The live band performs a mix of rock, pop and indie covers, while the ladies’ night and drinks deals also help keep the bar permanently packed. Whether you’re looking for a comforting plate of fish and chips or a post-brunch party, McGettigan’s will deliver.
Al Raha Beach Hotel & Resort, Channel Street (02 652 4333).
With wooden benches and a cosy vibe, this is one of the best spots in the city for enjoying a pint of the black stuff. It’s hard to know if it’s more popular than fellow Irish bar McGettigans, but it must be a pretty close call. Live entertainment is on several nights a week, and it’s a top choice if you’re looking to let your hair down.
Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Khalifa Street (02 674 2020).
Porters English Pub Highly Commended
The large, high-ceilinged main area of Porters English Pub boasts a long bar and a music stage, which is always set for some live entertainment from local bands, singers, and popular tribute acts. With a well-stocked bar and lively vibe, it’s a tremendous, familiar place for a knees up. The plates of pub grub get a big thumbs up from us too.
Grand Millennium Al Wahda, Hazza Bin Zayed Street (02 443 9999).
Stars ’N’ Bars
On a Friday evening, this is the place to go to catch The International Playboys as they round off the brilliant Funch brunch with a set of singalong covers. There are other acts playing regulalrly, too, so expect everything from rock anthems, country, Motown, R&B and everything in between. The weekly schedule also includes quizzes, ladies’ nights and more.
Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0101).
The Sportsman’s Arms Highly Commended
Sitting in the shadows of Zayed Sports City is the Sportsman’s Arms, our chosen place to cool down after a kick-about with pals or to recover from another gruelling fitness class at one of the centre’s many gyms. There’s loads of quality snacks and an impressive barbecue brunch during the cooler months, while the live music acts are always very entertaining.
International Tennis Center, Zayed Sports City (02 447 1066).
Stock Burger Co.
While you shouldn’t visit this restaurant without trying one of the incredible burgers, it’s also a top spot for a night out. Far more than just a burger joint, live sports are shown up on the big screens and the Wednesday ladies’ night offers nibbles, three free drinks and 50 percent off other beverages. There’s also live music every Thursday night with a duo that plays everything from the latest R&B hits to classic indie tunes and on a Friday you get a full band playing good-time sing-along numbers. Throw in an unrivalled selection of craft hops and you’re laughing.
Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi, Dhafeer Street (800 78625).