Rock on with the city’s live music venues, check out the bands you need to know and find out where you can share your own talents with an audience.
We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to live music in this city with bands taking up residence in almost every venue and watering hole that you can name, from singer-songwriters and solo artists to dynamic duos and rock bands. No matter what you’re after, be it chart-topping hits or classic anthems, chances are that you’ll find it.
Here’s where you can hear live music, the bands you should check out and where to go if you’re inspired to take the mic yourself.
Live on stage
Tucked away at Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort, this popular pub recently celebrated its 30th birthday and has been a meeting point for thousands of people in the capital over the decades. The small venue is also a great place to enjoy music with a new band set to take over at the venue soon to offer a fresh musical experience. Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort, Corniche East. Sun-Thu 4pm-2am, Fri-Sat 2pm-2am. Contact: 02 677 3333, tavernpubabudhabi.com
This vibrant Irish-themed hangout is a great place to see live music and enjoy the weather as the cooler months encourage us all to spend a little time outdoors. Taking over the LRM Central terrace is Spice Berry band, which takes to the stage every Friday from 9.30pm. Le Royal Méridien Abu Dhabi, Fatima bint Mubarak Street. Sat-Wed noon-2am, Thu-Fri 9am-3am. Contact: 800 101 101, pjspubabudhabi.com
There’s always music on offer at Porters where you can kick back and soak up the atmosphere every night of the week. Bringing an eclectic mix of music from Toto and The Beatles to the latest chart-topping hits, seven-piece group YFY performs from Monday to Saturday from 9pm to 2am and at the Friday brunch from noon to 4pm. Grand Millennium Al Wahda, Hazza Bin Zayed Street, next to Al Wahda Mall. Daily noon-3am. Contact:
02 443 9999, facebook.com/portersenglishpub
Jazz Bar and Dining
If you’re looking for smooth sounds and a relaxed atmosphere in the evenings, then visit Jazz Bar and Dining to hear soothing jazz and soaring vocals from five-piece Blakk Velvet, who perform six days a week from 9.30pm to 1.30am. Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort Abu Dhabi Corniche, Corniche West. Sun-Fri 7pm-2am. Contact: 02 692 4247, facebook.com/jazzbarad
Party destination McGettigan’s is no stranger to live music with performances from a host of local bands and musicians. Tuesday night sees two-piece Pete and Scott perform from 8pm to 11pm. On Thursday, Suckin Diesel takes over from 9pm to midnight, and you can see Barry Casey from 5pm to 8pm followed by Yeh Yeh Nahs from 9pm to midnight on Fridays. Not enough live music for you? On Saturday afternoons you can catch Eamonn Bolton live on stage from 3pm to 6pm. Al Raha Beach Hotel and Resort, next to Al Raha Mall. Sun-Wed 3pm-3am, Thu-Sat noon-3am. Contact: 02 652 4333, mcgettigans.com
Battle of the Bands
Looking to watch a band? Here are a few groups performing in the city that we think you should check out.
Gypsy Sun Duo
The dynamic Gypsy Sun Duo brings its acoustic sound to the capital to perform chilled covers of classic tunes. Canadian singer Terena and British guitarist Jim have been playing together since 2017 and can be seen doing their thing on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday evenings at Harvesters Pub in Holiday Inn Abu Dhabi as well as on Monday, Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday at Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi. To keep up to date with their performances, visit: jimdaviesmusic.wixsite.com/gypsysunduo
The International Playboys
Abu Dhabi veteran troupe The International Playboys has provided the soundtrack to hundreds of great nights in the capital. The four-piece, led by South African singer Nicola Warwick, rocks out five days a week, putting a unique spin on modern and classic tunes at Heroes from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 10.30pm. If you want to hear energetic pop or rock and hit the dance floor, these guys have the right soundtrack. Visit: facebook.com/ipboys
It may be new to the scene, but four-piece band Border Run has already gained a reputation for putting on an energetic show chock-full of great tunes during its first year in Abu Dhabi. The group has performed at Stockburger Co, Abu Dhabi City Golf Club, Manarat Al Saadiyat, Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel and Resort and Victor’s Pub in the past 12 months but can now be found performing at the end of each month at The Sportsman’s Arms. Music fans can expect a mix of classic and modern tunes from Counting Crows and Franz Ferdinand to The Rolling Stones and Johnny Cash. Check out the band’s Facebook page to keep up with the schedule of gigs. Visit: facebook.com/borderrunband
A Star is Born
Are you a budding musician or singer? Then test out your talent on a live audience at one of these open mic nights.
Grab your gear and head to The Mall at World Trade Centre to strut your stuff in front of a live audience. Singer-songwriters, bands and singers are invited to perform at the weekly open mic nights, held every Tuesday. It’s open to first-timers, too, so don’t worry if you’re yet to perfect your on-stage persona. No pre-registration is required, amplifiers are provided for guitarists and the house band will be on hand to provide backing if you need it. Visit: facebook.com/jazzpizzaexpressad
Join the ECHOES community and share your creative side with an enthusiastic and encouraging group of like-minded individuals. The monthly meet-ups provide performers with the opportunity to dip their toes in the water and try out new songs or covers in front of a crowd and receive immediate feedback. While not strictly an event for musicians – poets and spoken word artists can also sign up – it’s a welcoming environment to take your first steps in the live music scene. Visit: facebook.com/echoesabudhabi
Share your talent in front of a live audience with the monthly Rooftop Rhythms open mic night. Open to local performers, the event is predominantly a spot for spoken word artists and poets but musicians are welcome and do frequently take to the stage to perform original work. Places are assigned on a first-come-first-served basis and must be submitted through the Rooftop Rhythms Facebook page. Visit: facebook.com/rooftoprhythmsad
WORDS Colin Armstrong