There’s nothing quite like seeing a band perform live, so forget all those pop stars miming to backing tracks and check out one of the number of places to catch catch great gigs here in the capital.
Who are the real heroes of this long-standing sports pub? The chefs? The people pulling drinks behind the enormous bar? Or, is it the band, who stand on stage with a straight face and introduce themselves as the International Playboys? Work it out for yourself. As it’s open until 4am, you’ll have plenty of time to ponder it.
Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziyah (02 616 6122).
2. Jazz Bar & Dining
It scores no inventiveness points for its name, but this long-running nightspot in the Hilton Abu Dhabi remains one of the city’s live music institutions. The food on offer is surprisingly good, too, while the resident band EQ will play all the hits your heart desires into the wee hours.
Hilton Abu Dhabi, West Corniche (02 681 1900).
As separate concepts jazz music and a popular pizza chain make perfect sense. But have you ever wondered what they might be like combined? Then get yourself along to The Hub and wonder no more. If the music isn’t for you, the budget-friendly pizza almost certainly will be.
The Hub at The Mall, World Trade Center Mall (02 444 7752).
4. Jazz N’ Fizz
Let other venues blast your eardrums with obnoxiously loud music. For a velvet-smooth night with a glass of bubbly, head to the Sofitel on the Corniche. A pianist provides the soundtrack for your chilled evening, but bands are also occasionally booked for more up-tempo offerings. Nice.
Sofitel Abu Dhabi, East Corniche (02 813 7777).
It took until 2014 for McGettigan’s to make the journey to Abu Dhabi from Dubai, but once it did, it wasn’t long before it had established itself as one of the capital’s most popular haunts. Out at the Al Raha Beach Hotel, it offers pub grub, a wide selection of drinks, and rolling entertainment most nights, from comedy to live music to pub quizzes.
Al Raha Beach Hotel & Resort, Channel Street (02 652 4333)
6. PJ O’Reilly’s Irish Pub
Too often Irish pubs are nothing more than kitsch Emerald Isle trinkets and a certain black drink. While both of those things are present in PJ O’ Reilly’s it also has a pretty serious dedication to having a good time. Live acts range from DJs to dad rock to Irish folk from the excellently named Suckin’ Diesel.
Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, East Corniche (02 695 0515).
7. Porters English Pub
An English pub might not be as immediately appealing to foreigners as, say, an Irish or Scottish equivalent, but there’s plenty of fun to be had at Porters. Here you can catch live gigs, or cheer you favourite sports team on. If that’s all a little low-brow for you, they also periodically host a painting and drinking club.
Grand Millennium Al Wahda, Hazza Bin Zayed Street (02 495 3936).
8. Rock Bottom Café
It’s a bold naming policy, to essentially announce yourself as terrible. But, fear not, Rock Bottom is not the nadir but rather an endlessly fun dive-bar where the music never stops and wild stories are born. Current resident band Pop-It provide the live soundtrack to the chaos. One thing that is pretty close to rock bottom: the prices.
Al Diar Capital Hotel, Al Markaziyah (02 678 7700).
9. The Tavern
As well as offering solid pub grub, theme nights and a Friday night post-brunch party, The Tavern is one of the most musically dedicated venues in the city. Father-and-daughter duo Generation Gap provide the tunes six nights a week, right after happy hour, only taking Saturdays off. We’d say they’ve earned it.
Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort, East Corniche (02 677 3333).
10. Trader Vic’s
At 24 years old, Trader Vic’s is one of the most enduring nightspots anywhere in Abu Dhabi – little wonder its format has been copied around the country. The changes to the city since it opened in 1994 are beyond measure, but inside you’ll still find a reliable offering of entertainment, live DJs, and innovative fusion food.
Beach Rotana, Al Zahiyah (02 697 9011).