Eating and drinking my way through life and learning all the while

Happy Days – Live music returns to Madrid

It’s our second weekend in Madrid, 3 weeks since the state of emergency ended here and the city seems to be springing back to life.

As it is Friday, we sit at the bar at Dry Bar 1862 – for a post work cocktail. It’s going to be my new regular haunt I think given how close it is to my office, the tastiness of the drinks and how nice the guys are here. We enjoy our drinks and are given tasters of some pretty cool new spirits and some chupitos to start the night off right.

I’m slowly working my way through the list of recommendations I have for cocktail bars in Madrid and revisiting my favourite old haunts, although my self imposed ban on drinking during the week is slowing my progress somewhat. I’m trying hard to not drink Monday-Thursday for the moment – for a mixture of budget, focus & fitness reasons.

Alberto of Dry Bar shared this site to the best cocktail bars in Madrid, most were on my list and I’ve visited before but there are a few new names to explore – he introduced me to Bar Savas which I loved and I’m sure I’ll find some more new favourites via this site.

All but 2 of these bars are open with Baton Rouge and Bar Cock both waiting until September to reopen. It’s a relief to hear this as I was worried about Baton Rouge and kept stopped by on the off chance we could get a drink. I hope Diego of Baton Rouge takes a well deserved break this summer. It makes sense he’s holding off until September, Baton Rouge is based in Sol – a very touristy district of Madrid and has a strong international clientele including many Americans, who for the foreseeable can’t travel here.

There are some thoughts that September will be easier and others who don’t expect Americans to return until January 2021 at least. Americans are high spending tourists in Madrid and so will be sorely missed, us Brits spend a whole lot less…

The main reason my husband wanted to move here was for Madrid’s live music scene. Pre-COVID he could have played live almost every night of the week – with jam sessions and gigs. All this has stopped due to COVID-19. Most venues are not reopening until September and even then securing an international line up of artists is going to be difficult with the likely travel restrictions ahead. With capacity reduced to 40% it is currently not feasible to book top international talent as door takings won’t cover the costs – that’s if they’ll even be able to get into the country and feel comfortable touring without fear of getting stuck. My feeling is bands will be desperate to get on the road just as soon as there are gigs to justify.

But tonight (Friday) we head to hear some live music at Blackbird, a local rock bar. It is the first live performance there in four months! The longest stretch this place has been quiet since it opened.

It is one man with a guitar with a great voice, José Manuel Simón. I’m just thrilled to be hearing live music again, it is a sign life is returning. 

I’m with my Dad, he never blends in anywhere, in fact he makes it his mission to stand out and be different – I quite love him for that. I teach him a phrase in Spanish to request a song, I’m not sure if he uses it – or just speaks English loudly and slowly – but he manages to request a track.

We sing our freaking hearts out, I dance like a loon at the back. I’ve missed the energy of live music performances. I look and sound like a tit singing and dancing like an idiot, but really I have no fucks to give, I’m just enjoying it.

Our voices hoarse – we leave to grab a curry at midnight somewhere near our place. I fall into bed an hour or so later and sleep like a baby.

We seek out some more live music Saturday night, but I quite literally step in a pile of shit just outside Maravillas Club in my flip flops and abandon those plans. I clean myself up and go for some craft beer and cocktails instead. We end the night around 2am in a Tiki bar in Malasaña, Tiki Chateau.

While many music venues are shut, places like Maravillas, Moby Dick, Gruta 77 have opened their doors and are putting on gigs. Next week they’ll be more places open, La Sala Riviera has a line up from Wednesday July 15, until September with CrewNation Presenta, AutoCine Madrid RACE is hosting outdoor gigs and WiZink Center is putting on big shows from next Saturday.

Madrid will be a whole lot quieter than usual this summer, but there are still places to get your live music fix now if you look hard enough. ¡Disfruta!

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