From reformed pop icons to vintage rockers and singing showmen, there’s a lot to look forward to in live music in 2019. Here, in chronological order,looks at some of the highlights.
The Spice Girls, Croke Park, Dublin, May 24
What Spice Girls fans really, really want is to see the ’90s pop icons back on stage. They are about to receive their wish. Victoria Beckham is sitting out the comeback, but Sporty, Ginger, Baby, and Scary are all on board and the tour kicks off in Dublin. It promises to be a nostalgia trip for the ages.
Hugh Jackman, 3Arena, Dublin, May 30-31
Ridiculed by critics on its release in December 2017, The Greatest Showman has become the feel-good hit of its era. Now its all-singing, all-dancing star is taking some of Showman’s best loved songs on the road with a supersize version of his acclaimed Broadway production.
Live at the Marquee, Cork, June and July
The big tent returns to Cork’s Docklands, with Aslan, Toto, Nathan Carter, Versatile, Tash Sultana, David Gray, and comedian Tommy Tiernan among those already confirmed. Keep an eye out for announcements in the new year as further acts join the line-up.
Fleetwood Mac, RDS Dublin, June 13
The group’s creative driving force Lindsey Buckingham has left, fretful that the band had become its own tribute act. Yet Fleetwood Mac trudge ever onwards, with Mike Campbell and Crowded House’s Neil Finn filling Buckingham’s boots.
Fans don’t seem too worried about the departure with the group’s latest tour selling out in a heartbeat.
Bon Jovi, RDS Dublin, June 15-16
The big-haired ’80s rockers haven’t played Ireland since headlining Slane in 2013. This year they’re back for two nights in south Dublin. The band have parted ways with founding guitarist Richie Sambora but his exit does not seem to have detained them. They doubled down on their blue-collar roots two years ago with This House is Not For Sale, a critique of the financial devastation sweeping their native New Jersey.
George Ezra, Musgrave Park, Cork, June 20
The boyish troubadour had one of 2018’s biggest hits in ‘Shotgun’. And with Ed Sheeran presumably taking a year off, there is a gap in the market for an earnest young strummer who dresses like someone you once went to school with. Support is from arriving Nordic superstar Sigrid. The last time she played a big show in Ireland, at 2018 Electric Picnic, she was reduced to tears by the audience’s enthusiasm, so fingers crossed for a reception of equal warmth.
Lana Del Rey, Malahide Castle, Dublin, June 22
When the artist born Lizzie Grant broke through with ‘Video Games’ in 2011, the expectation was she would fizzle for a moment and then fade away. But she has demonstrated surprising longevity and put out a series of ever more compelling albums. Her intriguingly titled latest LP Norman F****** Rockwell is due in 2019.
All Together Now, Curraghmore House, Waterford, August 2-4
A brainchild of the late John Reynolds (creator of the original Electric Picnic), this festival at Curraghmore House in Waterford had a barnstorming debut in 2018. It looks set to go from strength to strength in 2019, with stadium moochers The National already announced as headliners. Intimate and artful, All Together Now surely has the potential to become one of Ireland’s favourite festivals.
Ariana Grande, 3Arena, Dublin, September 22-23
Two years after the Manchester Arena bombing, Florida pop star Grande will return to touring. It’s been a difficult time for the 25-year-old, whose ex-boyfriend Mac Miller was lost to an overdose last September. However, creatively, she goes from strength to strength with her Sweetener album, perhaps her strongest to date, yielding the instant anthem ‘No Tears Left To Cry’. Extraordinarily, another record is expected in 2019.
A-ha, 3Arena, Dublin, October 29
Having packed out Cork’s Live at the Marquee in 2018, Norway’s tall-haired pop icons return for an even bigger follow-up date. Their melancholic stadium pop never quite went out of fashion and, nearly 30 years after many of their biggest hits, they find themselves in the delightful position of being more popular than ever.