Cyprus Avenue; Friday January 28, 7pm; €10
Having gotten a promotion from Cyprus Avenue’s sister venue Winthrop Avenue to its main stage, Cork indie outfit The Drive will no doubt be seeking to impress. Bonding over a shared grá for UK genre mainstays like Blur and The Smiths, the four-piece, signed with Waterford label/managers Egg Twelve, has a penchant for wielding similarly-sized tunes.
Cyprus Avenue; Saturday January 29, 7pm; €20
With nothing much to prove to the Irish music mainstream, Cork singer-songwriter Jack O’Rourke went ahead and moved things forward anyway, with new album ‘Wild Place’ tapping into a duality of human longing and Covid-era detachment. Sweeping, piano-driven pop abounds, as best summarised on leadoff single ‘Sea Swimming’.
Coughlan’s Live; Thursday February 3, 9pm; €15
Having kept his head down over the course of the Covid crisis, completing a long-running arc of concept albums and gigging/streaming where possible, John Blek takes to the intimate surrounds of Coughlan’s, and there’s no small poetry in this most dedicated of touring musicians reopening the venue’s live account right as things are coming back around.
Cyprus Avenue; Wednesday February 9, 7pm; €15
Limerick singer-songwriter Emma Langford has kept busy throughout the crisis - between the release of second album 'Sowing Acorns', steady streaming & gigging in Ireland and Germany, and contributing to projects like Irish Women in Harmony, this date, rescheduled from a cancelled gig at Quiet Lights festival last November, ought to serve as a reminder of why she’s quickly garnering national-treasure status.
Cork Opera House; Wednesday February 9, 7pm; from €43
Scottish pop-rock mainstays Texas have outlasted waves of both industry hype and chart-topping success, and are about to head out to do a 30th-anniversary tour for debut album ‘Southside’ - as good an excuse as any to bust out all the big singles for the encore, too, including pop bijou ‘I Don’t Want a Lover’, and once-inescapable smash ‘Say What You Want’.
Cyprus Avenue; Saturday February 19, 7pm; €15
With a distinctly Dublin style that pulls no punches in drawing equally from the city’s dance-music culture and Ireland’s burgeoning hip-hop scene, duo Mango and Mathman have been at the forefront of the latter in recent times, from putting out wall-to-wall bangers that tap into life, struggle and the joy of music, to performing in venues like the National Concert Hall and London’s Barbican Theatre.
Cyprus Avenue; Saturday February 26, 7pm; €30
Glam-rock foolishness ahoy with the return to Irish shores of now-frequent visitors The Darkness, still riding high after all these years and packing a barely-ironic punch with new album Motorheart veering between soppy lighter-waving ballads to the title track, a paean to, eh, robotic pleasure companions. They’re sure to bust out the hits from their commercial pomp, also, so casual fans looking for ‘I Believe in a Thing Called Love’ won’t be disappointed.
Connolly’s of Leap; Friday March 4, 7.30pm; €28
US folk singer and multi-instrumentalist Sam Amidon has the honour of welcoming back the first (hopefully!) capacity crowd to Connolly’s of Leap since early 2020, and is set to play tunes from his self-titled LP, released in 2021 via label Nonesuch Records, and intended as his most complete artistic statement to date.
Live at St. Luke’s; Friday March 4, 7.30pm; €26.32
With a new album on the way, and the perfect place to roadtest the tunes alongside a catalogue of long-serving fan favourites, it’ll be a good step back into normality for Cork pop-rockers Ruby Horse. Intending for a more idiosyncratic and unpolished sound than their commercial heyday, interesting times lie ahead for a band that, at one stage, were sharing a studio with the late George Harrison.
Winthrop Avenue; Friday March 4, 9pm; €12.50
Northern classic-rock revivalists Dea Matrona have been impressing genre diehards around the island for a few years now, and while they dig firmly into the time-tested formula, they’ve more than got the tunes and the chops to back it up. Endorsed by former Eagles guitarist Don Felder among others, they’ve also very much taken the wheel on their own art, electing to self-produce recent singles.
Live at St. Luke’s; Saturday March 5, 7.30pm; €24.20
Finally getting to play their Cork album launch for last year’s ‘Where I Should End’, Northern duo Saint Sister are tailor-made for the stage and atmosphere at the Northside’s sonic temple, albeit doing away with some of the arch seriousness of their ‘atmosfolk’ days, and playing with gentle, wistful pop sensibilities.
Cyprus Avenue; Wednesday March 9, 7pm; €19.50
The reigning and defending queen of Irish country has won the hearts and minds of music heads up and down Ireland with a mix of high camp, humour and heart, packing a pop punch that varies from the Italo-disco leanings of ‘No More Virgos’ to genuine bangers like ‘I Don’t Really Care For You’. Upcoming album ‘If My Wife New, I’d Be Dead’ ought to mark a new chapter for an artist whose flair for visuals and choreography has helped her mark a distinct identity over lockdown.
Live at St. Luke’s; Saturday March 12, 7.30pm; €20
Cork singer-songwriter Graham Cooney has come a long way since assembling his first solo EP with equipment bought with money earned busking on the city’s streets. Effortlessly tapping a groovy, dust-covered sound on his own, or gently auto-tuning his tones for tunes like ‘Lander’ and Gaptoof collaboration ‘Nightcrawler’. That connection has led to his involvement in Dublin rapper Kojaque’s Soft Boy Records, the home of upcoming record ‘Yen’
Cyprus Avenue; Sunday March 13, 7pm; €22.50
Returning amid the depths of lockdown in 2020 with comeback album ‘Auslander’ in hand, Dublin indie-pop outfit are finally able to complete their victory lap with a brace of live shows featuring original members Craig Walker, Keith Walker and Ian Olney. Over a decade since breakthrough album ‘Immigrants, Emigrants and Me’ set them on the way to the Irish indie pantheon, they’ll be keen to prove they haven’t just tried to pick up where they left off.
Cork Opera House; Thursday March 17, 8pm; €45
From nineties pop darling to enduring multimedia icon; from the drum ‘n’ bass-inflected sound of chart hits like ‘Professional Widow’ to a visceral depiction of sexual assault in ‘Me and a Gun’, former Kinsale resident Tori Amos has weaved a multi-faceted tapestry of music and sound in over thirty years of performance, and continues to explore the power of creation as a salve for the destruction of the world around us.
Live at St. Luke’s; Friday March 18 & Saturday March 19, €26.32
They make bombs, steal sheep, and say very mean things about landlords and politicians. While The Mary Wallopers’ blend of song-collector knowledge of balladeering and folk forms makes a perfect fit with an anarchic sense of humour, they’re well on the way to something very special, having shored up the spirits of many a sesh-head over the course of Covid, with their streaming ‘pub sessions’ doing six-figure viewerships.
Cork Opera House; Thursday March 23, 8pm; €32.50
A power trio of Irish women in song if ever there was, iconic performers Sharon Shannon, Frances Black and Mary Coughlan converge on the stage of the Opera House, both to play solo sets with their respective bands, and to reprise some of the songs they performed on together as part of the best-selling ‘A Woman’s Heart’ series of albums and tours.
Winthrop Avenue; Thursday March 23, 7.30pm; €12.50
Corkman Podge Lane wields some smart and snappy alt-country, investing the genre with an indie sensibility that informs his instinct not to lean too hard into its tropes. It’s paid off on new album ‘Outer Monologues’, a deeply personal concept record that, in the artist’s own words, ‘takes place in the morning hours’ - unassuming fare for an early show, but one that ought to lend its weight to the intimacy of Winthrop Avenue!
The Everyman; Friday March 24, 8pm; €32
Described as ‘Scotland’s greatest living voice’, veteran singer Eddi Reader has had a long and illustrious career that’s bisected new-wave, folk, jazz and pop, from her former band Fairground Attraction to solo endeavours like tackling the work of Scots national poet Robert Burns. This special show at the Everyman sees her open up her songbook on her 40th year on the road.