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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 17 December 2018

A roundup of UAE venues that feature live music, from acoustic to Aloft

With the live music season in full swing, we round up the essential venues, residencies and a few one-off gigs that music lovers need to know about.
MusicHall in Dubai, modeled after the well-known Beirut venue of the same name. Courtesy Music Hall
MusicHall in Dubai, modeled after the well-known Beirut venue of the same name. Courtesy Music Hall
The Music Room

Best known for: its status as a window into the local rock scene.

The centre of the UAE's thriving band scene, The Music Room offers the most reliable showcase of the region's rock acts, with regular bills dedicated to talents from the Emirates and beyond.

Also watch out for touring international acts - everything from metal to African music and fun tribute bands - while top house band Magnetic play every night when there are no special events.

Upcoming one-offs at the Majestic Hotel Tower venue in Bur Dubai include a visit from the American metal band Circle II Circle this Friday (tickets Dh190) and a regional Rock Fest starring the Lebanese band Roswell, Thunder from Iran and the UAE's own Nikotin on October 24 (Dh75). And don't miss the next edition of the venue's monthly Jam Night tomorrow (Dh50). All events start at 9pm.

 

Metronome

Best known for: singer-songwriters eager to get heard.

Since launching in August, White Cube's regular touring acoustic showcase has offered a much-needed artistic outlet for up-and-coming performers in the capital. Catch the next edition at Urban Bites in Khalidiya's Shining Tower this Saturday starting at 6pm.

Go to www.facebook.com/WhiteCubeUAE for more events.

 

Jazz@Pizza Express

Best known for: funk, soul and dining while you boogie.

Inspired by Soho's Pizza Express Jazz Club in London, this Dubai take on the concept offers the same underground feel, mixing affordable food with a classy jazz-club vibe.

Admittedly there isn't much jazz in the purest sense, but, hands down, this is still one of the UAE's most consistently good live venues. Stop by JLT's Cluster A on Thursdays to groove with the home-grown talent Hamdan Al Abri and his Funk Radius or check soulful singer Nashon Holloway on Saturdays, funk instrumentals from 808 on Mondays and big-band hits (and dance classes) from The Swing Revue on Wednesdays. There's also an open mic on Sundays and an open jam on Tuesdays to complete the weekly schedule.

Aloft Abu Dhabi

Best known for: alfresco sounds.

Hip music-centric hotel Aloft has been making waves of late with a continuing residency from the UAE's very own EDM hitmakers Hollaphonic, who wrap up the partnership with a DJ workshop on October 22 and a finale gig/dinner on October 23 (both at 8pm). Visit www.aloftspotlightseries.com/abudhabi for your shot at getting one of the limited public tickets.

The hotel's Mai Café also hosts the popular covers duo Smiley Blue under the stars every Thursday night from 6.30pm.

 

Blue Bar

Best known for: house bands in a jazzy atmosphere.

Variety is the spice of life at cool jazz-tinged after-hours nightspot Blue Bar, where the house band The Mojos flip between lead singers and set lists according to the night.

Based at Dubai's Novotel World Trade Centre, on Thursdays the founder Marwan rips through classic rock and blues guitar workouts. There's more commercial fare on Fridays courtesy of the vocalist Randa Halal, while Nadine Bekhaazi takes the mic for standards and French tunes on Saturdays.

 

The Fridge

Best known for: eclectic sounds in an arty warehouse vibe.

Based in the Dubai art hub Alserkal Avenue, The Fridge is known for programming brave bills of everything from opera to experimental dance. While a relatively quiet autumn awaits, as the venue plans its celebrations to mark the 100th gig in its Fridge Concert Series in January, stop by on November 8 for 12 hours of music, dance and more as part of the Quoz Happens festival (10am to 10pm). Keep an eye on www.thefridgedubai.com for the latest updates.

 

MusicHall

Best known for: novelty, variety and theatre-like class.

Based on the renowned Beirut original, the entrepreneur/raconteur Michel Elefteriades's beguiling MusicHall concept sees up to 10 acts cherry-picked from around the globe - everything from folk to funk to opera - performing three songs each on rotation throughout the evening.

However, based at the Palm Jumeirah's Zabeel Saray hotel, the classy theatre/cabaret vibe comes at a price, with a minimum spend of Dh450 per person on drinks alone.

Normally open only on Thursdays and Fridays, the venue is hosting a one-off show by the R&B legend Billy Ocean on October 28 (tickets from Dh225, available at www.platinumlist.net).

 

Heroes

Best known for: cheesy tunes and the Cheers factor.

An old favourite - for dance-floor-cramming pop and rock covers, you can't go wrong with Abu Dhabi institution The International Playboys, who perform in the pub at the Crowne Plaza on Hamdan Street from Monday to Friday.

rgarratt@thenational.ae