Sala Arena

Capacity: About 900

Address: Princesa, 1

Metro: Plaza de España (L2, L3 and L10)

In 2005, the former Sala Arena (not to be confused with the Madrid Arena in Casa de Campo, that’s a different place entirely) was renamed the Sala Heineken due to a naming rights agreement. That period over, it has now been renamed the Sala Marco Aldany, after a hairdressing chain. However, the name only stands for the venue when it is used for electronic (i.e. as a nightclub), and foe concerts it’s going to revert to the old name of Sala Arena until a new sponsor can be found.

As a discotheque, as the Sala Marco Aldany then, it offers all the nasty trimming you could ask for – unfriendly bouncers, overpriced drinks (if you can get served at all), and very little subtlety when it comes to the acquisition of alternative mind-alteration substances to alcohol.

As a concert hall, it’s a different kettle of fish, being one of Madrid’s most common small-format venues, generally used by acts that aren’t quite big enough for the Riviera. The sound system has often come in for criticism, but it all depends where you’re stood. Get there early and find a good place, and you’ll find fewer better venues for seeing a band up close and hearing every note, and it’s the ideal place for bands to interact with the audience. Get there late and you’ll find yourself pressed up against one of the wings, struggling to see the stage and unable to hear much more than the bass guitar pounding.

The venue is built on two levels, but the top one id generally kept closed for lesser bands, but no matter who’s playing, expect to be shocked by the price of the drinks.

GETTING THERE

Coming out of Plaza de España, the venue is the shortest of walks up Princesa, and there it is on the right. Simple as. You could also get off at Ventura Rodriguez or Noviciado, but that would be very silly, because you’d have to walk further and wouldn’t get to have a look at the Plaza de España gardens on the way.

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