Can we just take a moment to agree that Abu Dhabi does massive music events marvellously well? From the poppy, arms-in-the-air delights of a performer such as Pink to the masterful musicianship of Mumford and Sons, the big concerts are one of the greatest things about life in the capital.
But, it has to be said, the headline gigs are few and far between. While we’re not sure our bank accounts could afford the hit of big-ticket events every week, there is a space on our calendars for more regular shows. Luckily for us all, there are live events in the city every week, from swinging jazz to riotous covers of rock classics. Check these ten out for starters...
It is not the first time we’ve shared our love of the Sheraton Abu Dhabi’s cool al fresco amphitheatre. The low seating, twinkling lights on palm trees and faint aroma of shisha are as mellow as the talented performers that brave the frequent open mic nights. You’ll also find DJ James on the decks every Friday from 7pm to 11pm.
Open daily 9am-midnight. Sheraton Abu Dhabi, Corniche Road (02 677 3333).
2. Belgian Café
The soulful stylings of the UAE’s favourite multi-instrumentalist, Adam Baluch, can be heard at clubs, bars and stages across the country. Stop by the Belgian Café’s Wednesday ladies’ night (three free drinks) every week and you are as likely to hear trumpet solos and loop pedals as you are acoustic guitar and beatboxing.
Open daily. 4pm-1am. InterContinental Hotel, Al Khubeirah (02 304 8178).
We love the variety of this chic hangout any time, but reckon a Wednesday night is peak BU! as Latin tunes take over. Expect toe-tapping meringue and salsa and more rhythm than you could shake a hip at.
Open Sun-Thu, noon-3am; Fri, 12.30pm-3am, Sat, 10am-3am. The Hub, World Trade Centre Mall (02 666 8066).
Jazz and pizza. We don’t really need to say any more, do we? If you want to hear some of the city’s finest bands jamming then make your way along and pretend to be cooler than you are. The upper crust (sorry) of Abu Dhabi music-makers is found here.
Open Sat-Wed, 11.30am-midnight; Thu-Fri, 11.30am-1am. The Hub, The Mall at World Trade Center, Al Markaziya (02 444 7752).
5. Jazz Bar and Dining
We don’t dish out Time Out Abu Dhabi Nightlife Awards that easily. Like the last tray of fresh shrimp at a brunch, they are closely guarded and only offered when truly deserved. So knowing that the Hilton Abu Dhabi’s grooviest lounge was selected by us as the best live music venue in the city means you should make a date and swing by. Awesome foursome DNA provide the jazz vibes most nights of the week and, top tip, you can also nip next door to Hemingway’s to see resident Ukrainian duo Blackberry perform ballads and pop if you’re hankering for more moody melodies.
Open Sun-Fri. 7pm-2am. Hilton Abu Dhabi, Corniche Road (02 692 4247).
Heroes is home to the best house band in Abu Dhabi. What more do you need to know? The International Playboys are three-time winners of a Time Out Abu Dhabi Music & Nightlife award and can be found belting out cracking covers for loyal fans at Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi from Tuesday to Saturday. You’ll find a great atmosphere here, and plenty of reasons to get up on your feet.
Open daily noon-4am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi, Al Markaziya (02 616 6132).
The Irish institution does everything, right? Just as you would expect from a hangout that excels in sport, food, quizzes and just about every other promotion – live music nights here are top of the class. There’s a rotating line-up of house bands. Think pub favourites and singalong anthems, plus frequent solo performers for you to enjoy. Oh, and this place won our Best Pub Food gong, too.
Open Sun-Wed, 3pm-3am; Thu-Sat, noon-3am. Al Raha Beach Hotel, Al Raha (02 652 4333).
8. PJ O’Reilly’s
If ever there was a pub where nobody would bat an eyelid if you suddenly broke into song, this would be it. The quaint and quirky Irish spot has an entertainment line-up that includes regular performances from the inimitable Paddyman, plus rocking sets from, er, The Rocks.
Open Sat-Wed, noon-2am; Thu-Fri, noon-3am. Le Royal Méridien, Sheikh Khalifa Street (800 101 101).
9. Stars ’N’ Bars
You’ve probably heard about the sporting credentials of this Yas Marina nightspot. Truth is that as well as it performs as a big match venue it is also a nifty live music spot, too. We’re not just talking about some impressive karaoke on a Sunday, either. On Friday nights the resident band, Shakedown, are masters of ceremonies for a great trackside party night.
Open Sat-Tue, 11.30am-2.30am; Wed-Fri, 11.30am-3.30am. Yas Marina, Yas Island (02 565 0101).
10. Trader Vic’s
Music does not have to be serious. Put on your liveliest floral shirt, pick out a fruity drink from the menu and sway to the Latin-inspired sounds of the band at the post-brunch party every Friday at Abu Dhabi’s favourite Polynesian-themed tiki bar.
Open daily 5pm-3am. Beach Rotana, Tourist Club Area (02 697 9011).