Miah Kaur, Contributor
You are greeted by a rush of warm air as you enter into the dimly-lit, red-hued establishment. Bert’s Jazz Bar gives you the immediate impression that you’ve walked into a late 1920’s jazz club. The evening’s entertainment – ‘The Mardi Gras’ – perfects this feel, with a terrific transatlantic vocalist with a vintage-style microphone to boot, you would be forgiven for forgetting its 2015.
The word that comes to mind whilst sitting at the bar sipping on a cocktail is ‘Swanky’. This is certainly a place for suit-jackets and pencil skirts, if you’re feeling like a sophisticated evening out. That is not to say, however, that Bert’s is unwelcoming; it is a warm, friendly and enjoyable establishment. Unlike some other high-end jazz bars, Bert’s is very relaxed when it comes to having (reasonable) conversations during performances, which achieves a much more welcoming, communal atmosphere. It allows you the option of having the performance as the focus of your night or having it as a background accompaniment to it.
Although my few experiences of Bert’s lead me to conclude they’re not big on experimental jazz, the band last Thursday evening did make some non-traditional moves. The sextet of snappy dressers provided a swing cover of Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘Sweet Child of Mine’. Despite perhaps lacking in some taste, it was executed impeccably. The vocalist even produced from his pocket a harmonica and provided an unexpected yet spot on solo. Requests could be made to the band, so if you’ve been dying to hear a live rendition of ‘Come Fly With Me’, Bert’s should be on your list of places to see in Belfast. Otherwise, the entertainment tends to keep to the classic smooth jazz we all know and love. The music does tend to increase in volume and energy as the week progresses, so keep this in mind.
One of the best things about Bert’s is the cocktails, with beautifully crafted cosmopolitans and martinis. The most striking feature at the bar are the two enormous wine racks, so even the fussiest beverage connoisseur will certainly find the right thing for a chilled night of jazz and swing. However, quality comes at a cost; this is not a cheap night out, so do think twice before opening a tab at the bar. Open until around 2am, you can easily lose yourself in the style, atmosphere and music that surrounds you. One of the few bars in Belfast that play live jazz, Bert’s is a place that every music lover should check out during their time in this city.