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What's On Live
Aoife Nessa Frances.
Aoife Nessa Frances.

Some hot-ticket concerts and festivals in Cork: The perfect Christmas Gift

 Limerick’s Post Punk Podge put on a show for Quarter Block Party.

Limerick’s Post Punk Podge put on a show for Quarter Block Party.

Various city venues; Thursday February 6th - Sunday February 9th
Three-show passes €25 + booking fee; uticket.ie

It’s the springtime pillar of the city’s arts and gigging communities, bringing a much-needed touch of colour and culture to the city’s historic spine after the quiet, cold winter. And on its sixth instalment, Quarter Block Party brings over 50 music, dance, visual arts and community events to the table in its most ambitious festival programme yet. Confirmed for music headliners as part of the 3-for-€25 bundle: Limerick agitpop iconoclast Post-Punk Podge, Cork psych improvisers The Bonk, post-metallers God Alone, songwriter Aoife Nessa Frances, noise-pop trio Pretty Happy, and much more. Always an unmissable proposition.

 Steel Panther perform at Cyprus Avenue on February 17.

Steel Panther perform at Cyprus Avenue on February 17.

Cyprus Avenue; Monday February 17th; 8pm
€38.50 + booking fee; cyprusavenue.ie and The Old Oak bar

Is it a celebration of the storied excesses of eighties US radio-rock superstars, or a direct parody of their legacies, along with the related pop-cultural nostalgia? It can be genuinely hard to tell on occasion with Steel Panther, who have gone from sending up Sunset Strip directly to its face, to selling out arenas and topping rock charts all over the world. While their schtick might be intentionally frozen in time, their technical chops are entirely in earnest, as is the love of devoted fans around the world. Fifth album ‘Heavy Metal Rules’ sees them stop upstairs in the newly-renovated room on Caroline Street as part of a worldwide tour.

 Lankum perform on March 17 at Cork Opera House.

Lankum perform on March 17 at Cork Opera House.

Cork Opera House; Tuesday March 17th; 8pm
€25 + booking fee; corkoperahouse.ie and venue box office

Headlining the Opera House on Paddy’s Day is no mean feat, but if there’s one outfit that has been able to capture the imaginations of Folk Scare revivalists and contemporary/younger genre aficionados alike, it’s been Dublin folk miscreants Lankum. New album ‘The Livelong Day’ is by far their most ambitious, tackling titans of the genre songbook like ‘The Wild Rover’ in inimitable fashion. Meanwhile the influences of post-punk, drone and contemporary classical are even further pronounced in setpieces like ‘Ode to Lullaby’/’Bear Creek’. A unifying force in the preservation and progression of the Irish folk and traditional oeuvre.

Trabolgan Holiday Village; Friday May 8th - Sunday May 10th
Weekend passes from €137; uticket.ie

Whether you’re renting a chalet at the holiday village of many a Cork childhood, pulling up in your camper van, or simply camping out, there’s no denying that It Takes a Village has changed the idea of Irish music festivals, turning Trabolgan into a canopied, full-service festival site that’s hosted a gamut of Irish and international alternative talent across its bars, restaurants, and even its swimming pool. While a formal line-up has yet to be announced, previous instalments have been headlined by the likes of Sister Nancy, The Herbaliser, Don Letts and Herbert, alongside appearances from Irish artists like Le Boom, Bitch Falcon, Spekulativ Fiktion, Horse, and many more.

 Satirical group Kneecap perform at the Opera House.

Satirical group Kneecap perform at the Opera House.

Cork Opera House; Thursday May 14th; 8pm
€21 + booking fee; corkoperahouse.ie and venue box office

When it comes to satirical hip-hop with an eye on Irish pop-culture, and a working-class tongue in its cheek, there’s one duo (and their DJ) that come to mind, and they’re not private-school kids from Dublin! Whether it’s being blacklisted by RTE, getting kicked out of their own UCD performance, or being condemned by the DUP, bilingual Belfast emcees Mo Chara and Móglaí Bap, accompanied by erstwhile DJ Próvaí, are the real deal, and their hyperkinetic, balaclava’d live shows, laden with black political humour and twists of Gaelgóir phrase have seen them become rising stars in Irish music.

 Sinead O’Connor: Returns to Cork for a Live at the Marquee show.

Sinead O’Connor: Returns to Cork for a Live at the Marquee show.

The Marquee, Monahan Road; opening for the summer on Saturday May 30th

Tickets variously priced; ticketmaster.ie and all Ticketmaster locations

After fifteen years and countless appearances from legends and superstars alike, across music, theatre, comedy and podcasting, Aiken Promotions’ Marquee as we know it has come to a close, as the Docklands area is readied for redevelopment in the coming years. 

 Legend Diana Ross is set for Live at the Marquee.

Legend Diana Ross is set for Live at the Marquee.

They’re going out with a bang, mind you: among those announced so far have been soul icon Diana Ross, trad troubadour Christy Moore, comeback queen Sinéad O’Connor, indie superstars The National, breakout podcasters The 2 Johnnies, dance legends Orbital, noughties pop introspector Dido, and enduring MOR hero Cat Stevens/Yusuf.

 Lewis Capaldi will be a huge draw at Musgrave Park.

Lewis Capaldi will be a huge draw at Musgrave Park.

Musgrave Park, Tramore Road; Sunday June 18th - Tuesday June 30th
Tickets variously priced; ticketmaster.ie and all Ticketmaster locations

Not to be outdone by their longtime promotional counterparts, MCD head into their second summer season of gigs at the home of Munster rugby (referred to here by its non-sponsorship moniker). While less fixed on nostalgia, the big gigs on Tramore Road err toward pop heavyweights, with Lewis Capaldi, Picture This, Dermot Kennedy and The Script all headlining, while nineties superstars David Gray (performing career work ‘White Ladder’ in its entirety) and The Chemical Brothers supply the weight of their legacy and bodies of work.

Dark sound artist Ruairí O’Baoghaill.


Cyprus Avenue; Friday July 31st & Saturday August 1st; from 6pm

€35-80 + booking fee; eventbrite.ie

Since unifying their metal promotions operations, Paranoid Beast promoters Con Doyle and Mark Morrissey have been driving forces in the city’s metal scene, laying local building blocks in its monthly Paranoid Pit gigs, and bringing international names like Bell Witch and Rotting Christ to town. Now in its third year, their annual Monolith event is a two-day feast for fans of extreme Irish music, with multiple sub-genres represented. Doom-metal fans will be satisfied with the low-end assault of Conan, Elder Druid and Owlcrusher, death-metal heads will find the likes of Coscradh and The Crawling to their taste, and the avant-garde is ably represented in the appearance of dark sound artist Ruairí O’Baoghaill.

Norwegian pop sensation Sigrid is on the bill at Indie20.

Deer Farm, Mitchelstown;
Friday July 31st - Sunday August 2nd; all day

Tier 2 tickets from €149 + booking fee; independence.tickets.ie

The great post-exam rite of passage in the Munster area for over a decade now, the former Indiependence Festival has found itself changing with its audience in recent times, deftly booking a mix of established indie/alternative stars in festival tradition, alongside a selection of pop, house and hip-hop to reflect the wider mix of music heads among its much-increased capacity. Announced headliners as of time of writing are a pair of blockbusters: Mike Skinner leads alternative UK hip-hop outfit The Streets to the festival’s main stage, while Norwegian pop sensation Sigrid takes her rightful place as a polished pop crowd-pleaser. The IMRO stage is always the one to watch here, of course, filled with specially-selected bands from the Irish independent scene.