Starlite Festival, Marbella Arena and the Puente Romano Tennis Club are brilliant summer venues to watch international stars, but where do you go to catch live music in the “quieter” months?
Giles Brown, Bright’s roving roadie, takes you on a tour of Marbella’s best venues for everything from informal jam sessions to full on Rock revelry!
You might think that Marbella’s live show scene packs up and heads out of town when the summer finally winds down. While the big names that come to Spain in the winter tend to focus on Madrid and Barcelona, there is still a healthy scene on the coast.
A proviso on what I term as “live music” before we begin. Hundreds of venues offer live entertainment, but they tend to be the ‘singer with a backing track’ variety. There is nothing wrong with that – unless it is an Ed Sheeran tribute, obviously – but I’m more interested in the bars, restaurants and clubs where full bands play.
LOUIE LOUIE LIVE
Tucked away on a side street overlooking Estepona Port, Louie Louie Live is the kind of “Dusk till Dawn” style venue where you can easily lose a weekend – or two. The décor is pure rock, with a long bar, an impressive range of drinks – including the fearsome Jägermeister – and you can just about make out some seating at one end. Not that you will spend much time sitting down as this place is all about getting up and enjoying the music. The modestly elevated stage has played host to some of the coast’s best bands, as well as visiting bluesmen and the occasional passing rock god! I caught Black Crowes guitarist Marc Ford live one – admittedly fuzzy – night. Expect to sweat, sing, shake your money-maker and generally have a great time!
Although a bar restaurant in an out-of-town garden centre might not seem the natural choice as a live music venue, Cat’s Kitchen, just outside Cancelada, hosts some of the busiest jam sessions around. You might not be that surprised to discover that a main part of the reason behind the success is beer. Several years ago, a group of young entrepreneurs set up Marbella’s first craft brewery, La Caterina. The venue grew to include a restaurant, lounge and arts space and a widely popular live music venue. All good things come to an end, alas, and the original Nueva Andalucía venue closed a few years ago. The brand, however, relocated to Cat’s Kitchen, a new restaurant in the Agrojardin garden centre, and it soon started hosting weekly jam sessions for local musicians to bring their instruments and plug in. It has quickly become a firm favourite and is the most family friendly on the list!
Hangout of seemingly every UK celebrity, footballer, Instamodel and Reality TV star, La Sala might seem an odd inclusion on my list. Admittedly, it does feature the backing track singers that I mentioned at the beginning of the article and can get more than a little karaoke-esque on some nights. La Sala, however, does boast an excellent in-house rock band, Wall Street. Their excellent blend of rock, funk and indie even earned them a support slot when the Kaiser Chiefs played the coast. It is also the place that you might see a pop star let his hair down and get on stage. Paolo Nutini – obviously enjoying himself – famously joined in one night, while Irish superstar Ronan Keating played a superbly intimate acoustic gig in La Sala’s Live Lounge.
FIESTA – EL BAR DEL MERCAO
This is yet another surprising live music venue. Fiesta is a brilliant tapas bar located in Marbella’s municipal market, so highly rated that visiting Michelin chefs often pop in to taste what is on the menu. And on Saturday afternoons during the winter months, owner Ruben, a lifelong Rockabilly and 50s Rock and Roll fan, clears space on the terrace for some great vintage, stripped down rock and roll music. As well as having some of the best facial hair in Marbella, Ruben also has a huge network of family and friends that make Fiesta a lively afternoon session, with the added bonus that you won’t get to bed too late!