The raving entertainment seeker has been working not so hard for your pleasure in the last few weeks, but latest reviews are at the top... If you have a recommendation, want to add a review, or want to invite our reviewers, send it to listings at thisisaddis.com. Please send through any corrections, including spelling corrections. Much of the reviewing is alcohol-induced and may be mistaken, apologies!
Teje, Azmari-Bet, (30 March 2007). Beautiful, spacious new azmari-bet in Chechnya. Top azmari Teje herself will entertain and sing, but the other singers (we saw Teshage and Ulak) also manage star turns with dance moves, ad hoc fun-making by mazinko in Amharic and even a bit of English. The beautiful Zenash dances from one style to another, astounding and amazing with her repertoire and skill, as well as flying hair. Audience members leapt up, and even outpaced the entertainers on some evenings. Fasting food was also available. Recommended!
Tameru Meru Azmari-bet (29 March 2007), off Haya Hulett, just south of and across the road from St Gabriel Hospital. Judging by the audience response, owner and singer Adana Jeka needed little introduction and his witty and incisive singing made for an evening of electric entertainment, with a host of other good singers and dancers.
Almi Bar, Azmari-bet, (9 November 2006) Wro. Etenish kindly agreed to sing for us. Her amazing voice rolls, soars, wavers and thrills with the same green and soul-lifting thrill as the green hills of Dessie and Kombolcha she loves to sing about. Without a mike, you felt she could have brought the whole busy street to a half. Its in Datsun sefer, a busy street full of lively azmaribets on the left as you drive Northwest after Simien Hotel. Action is going strong around midnight.
Jordal Azmari-bet (3 November 2006), good and lively place, with teams of entertainers. A bit geared to milking foreigners of Birr 10 notes with annoying repetition, but one azmari spares no-one some saucy jokes in Amharic (or was it my translator, everything, even my name, seemed to involve f*ing?). A couple of wild and excellent dancers, with hypnotizing magic in their eyes, and lightning moves. Kazanchis road, near the top on the right as you go up to the Palace.
Fentika, Azmari-bet, (16 September 2006) when you need fun, nothing beats an azmari-bet, where the singers personalize their songs to you and your lady, telling her how lucky she is to have a great guy like you (provided you tip well). Skills at Fentika are top, and owner Messeret also joined the floor to entertain us, while the decor is like a well decorated and embroidered cave. Entertainment includes a Michael Jackson azmari, complete with groin clutch. The azmaris could manage some lines in English, to the delight of our visitors, who danced the habesha steps and we even retaliated with a few lines ourselves, while "plung"ing the masinko, to the delight of the friendly staff. Kazanchis road, don't worry if there are no cars outside, the night is hot inside when the beers start flowing.
La Gazelle, Piano Bar: (Bole Road, near Novis, 16 September 2006). The crowd was pumping, drawn in by some excellent up and coming musical talent and well choreographed curvacious dancers. The big attraction, poached from Asli about a month ago, is a dance to “Twisting”, by Fisseha (guy with hat and chair) and Haya (contortionist, gymnast, and hot stuff who claims five years training with Nazreth circus). The act, Fisseha says he choreographed it, was unbelievable as Haya was a first a woman, then an object, then a music instrument, then climbing to the rock’n’roll. The action-packed night includes a dancer whose butt would put a pneumatic drill to shame, and talented cabaret singers singing out their hearts every night. Backing sound is sax and keyboard, sometimes almost habesha rock’n’roll. 7 days open, entertainment less Mon-Wed. 21:30-4:00.
Aster at the Gaslight, (13 September 2006). “We’d like you welcome a new singer, she’s only been singing a year, so give her a big hand”, said the tongue-in-cheek bandleader. The crowd gasped in anticipation, Ethiopia’s best-known singer was surprise guest at the Sheraton’s Jazz Plus night. When Aster sang, it was as if her soul opened up to me and the power poured through her lips and into my heart (I was only on Bati, honest). Attention locked onto her as she showed her power and talent has only increased. Her floating, haunting melodies, the way her breaths form an integral part of her singing, her voice which sings, laughs and cries all at once without missing a beat stunned the audience, thrilled with the intimacy of this jazzclub performance. Some of her star songs were “Sewuyew Ale Wey” highlighting the jazzy styles from her new CD, Fikir (Love), and "Munaye Munaye", a floating song full of beat.Her amazing performance topped off a night of glorious jazz and songs by Tsedenia Gebremarkos, including “Fikre Neh Yiywote” and songs by the Dawit Mesay, whose silver voice sounds like waterfalls. The band, as usual arranged by Abegaz, showed excellent talents both at playing on their own, and as jazz tunes blending with the vocalists. After a night like this, could we nother evening to show Sheraton has all the best tunes.
Celebration of Life, New Year 1999 (10 September 2006). Amazing evening as Sheraton and the Sheik Al Amoudi entertain thousands of lucky New Year revellers to top musicians and endless tables of food and drink. It was the musicians who made the night, with a string of stunning performances from Aster Awoke, Hamelmal Abate, Mahamoud Ahmed and Damberu maybe outpacing the talent of the evening’s big star, Jah Rule. Not that the crowd noticed, as they were already wild by the time JR took the stage, and loved the hype and buff abdomen, whooping with joy as he ripped off his shirt. Aster’s performance, her high and breathless voice continuing to intrigue. But Hamelmal showed she also has mountains of skill and heart, and no-one needs reminding why Mahamoud still reigns on as the gentleman king of song and entertainment. The show was great, with teams of white-robed dancers and a string of players, held together by the same team four windplayers, keyboard (Abegaz Kibrework Shihota), two guitars (including Girum Mezmur), excellent drummers and two backing singers, a welcome addition not seen recently. The mood was great, as epitomized by a jolly Sheik Al-Amoudi, showing off dance steps under a wideband hat. The food and catering was top class, and the fireworks, spectacular as ever.
Ekirta High Toned Jazz at the Coffee House (3 June 2006). Memorable music from this fine fusion of Paris jazz and Ethiopian songs. The mood moved from the harsh to the hip, with friends muttering “King Crimson” and other historical references as Julien Roux slammed through guitar riffs, detuning in mid jam. Another Parisian, Julien Aspeta, joined the line up with a harsh sax that sometimes said “Afrobeat”, sometimes sang, and Alex Cohen on bass weaves the fabric together. Tewabe Tadesse thrilled with excellent vocals, hooking the wild and pulsing jazz into Ethiopian tunes and melodies. As the lights went out for effect, the band played on, the scene took roots in my mind. The other Ethiopian musicians, Seblu Seba (keyboards) and Leyikun Zewdu (drums) played excellently, fitting and supporting the swirling sound. They are here for another three gigs, Saturdays 10-24 June, its memorable.
Asli Club (3 November 2005 and 3 June 2006). Also open in Namibia Road, very nice layout, good ladies, bit wooden performances with the synthesizer, as elsewhere, killing the fun. The first branch is in Meskel Flower Road, near Olympia. the show runs from about 22:00-05:00. The cosy club is packed with a line up of 10 singers one after another and many beautiful dancers. The full range of cabaret was on the tiny stage, in front of a select audience. The first set of dancers I saw were surreal, the second set dancing to “African music” and showed they had beautiful body parts to wiggle enticingly, but failed to convince that they could do African dance.
Concorde: (Debrezeit Road). Imagine some white guy walking in from Europe, where ladies have to be charmed and impressed. Here the walls are three-deep in stunning women, all trying to catch your eye and get you to buy them a drink. You may think you went to heaven. The club is good, with a lively traditional dance show early in the evening (until about 22:30) and a good DJ spinning a mix of songs. There's a balcony upstairs where you can watch the action - who's hunting whom? Ethiopian ladies are nearly all lovely and charming, but for many its like being at work, don't devote too much time to the unproductive.
Salsa Night at Gaslight, Sheraton – O what a night! The club was packed with spinning and twisting couples. Up to 3 djs at a time hunched in the box spinning hotter and hotter tracks from all over South America, with live bongos to boost the beat. Salsa is taking off in Addis, with classes and groups around town, and this is the chance to strut their stuff and put all the moves together. But its informal and everyone finds a corner to shake their things and have fun, even if they never danced salsa before. Watch out for the next one.
Harlem Jazz: K'Alyn unmissable singer of blues, soul and reggae covers, flown in for some months from Washington DC. This man delights the audience and repacks the sounds like you heard them for the first time - one night an acoustic version of "Come on Baby Light My Fire" was unforgettable. The band is one of the best in Addis. Sometimes the crowd is even lively and hits the dancefloor. A good night out. Check Weekly Roundup for days. Harlem Jazz is down Bole Road, near the airport roundabout.
Alliance Ethio-Francaise: Azmari Night: well worth a turn for this monthly treat, with the best of local musicians, the whole room redecorated, cheap eats (Birr 15 a plate) and excellent singers and traditional dancers stretching the limits with slapstick dance and a range of hot styles and clothes - the flying golden-brown hair in the headbanging number made it look as if her brain was exploding and the man with rubber shoulders was excellent! Joining in the gurage dances looks deceptively like rockabilly with funny hand movements, but sets fire to your calves. The January one had a special moment when ace musician Mahamoud Ahmed was finally wooed by effervescent and excellent singer Amsale Meteke to take the floor and demonstrate why Alliance dedicated a music festival to him. He told ThisIsAddis his new cd will be out in two months. The show starts 18:30 but got hotter as the night goes on, ended around 22:00.
Bar with No Name/ Misheta Bet(Bar): Hot little azmari beyt in Chechnya (Mickey Leland Road, towards Asmara Road). Range of good mazinko and drums with musicians such as Mauro and Pili, try to get iskista star Bethlehem to shake her shoulders for you.
Black Rose: (Bole Road South) The place to meet and chill. Big cocktail lounge with comfortable décor and ambience, stay and have fun.
Coffee House: (near Sidist Kilo and Jan Meda). Thursday nights for hott' n' happnin jazz, featuring big stars of Addis music, packed and mixed crowd, but its not for dancing. Watch this space for more top live musicians.
Club Illusion: (centre of town). If you like dancing to today’s music, this is the place to shake that thing. Great dance floor styles, moves and music. Bring your own company as this hot crowd don’t appreciate your corny chat up lines.
Divine: (Namibia Road, between Atlas Hotel and Kaldi’s). Stylish bar with OK DJ and good, mixed crowd, nice dancing.
Memo: (Off Bole Road, near Meskel Square). Its still got good sounds - despite sometimes hitting a techno groove with all the white boys waving their hands in the air - and attracts a mixed crowd including couples, and beautiful women who mix business with pleasure. DJs Teddy and Michael are on 7 days a week and it’s a mix of oldies (think Imagination, Jackson 5, we’re still waiting for “kung fu dancing”..), habesha, arab, reggae, you name it, it goes down well as you watch girls in tiny tops trying to hook up with their elders and palers and compare dance styles as many nations strut it on the disco floor.
Recover with special foul from Va Bene café in DebreZeit Road north (across and down from the Shell Station), or coffee, special omelette and mmm.. chocolate croissant at La Parisienne (Meskel Flower Road, near Olympia and Bole Road).