- Thursday April 28 & Friday April 29; Páirc Uí Chaoimh
Whether you love or loathe the ubiquity and accessibility of pop singer Ed Sheeran’s ‘everyman’ act, he’s headed for a pair of stadium-sized gigs in Cork’s docklands. Tickets aren’t quite sold out as of time of writing - suggesting that even the mightiest of industry darlings hasn’t escaped the long-term ramifications of the Covid crisis.
- Sunday May 1; Cyprus Avenue
The voice of English spoken-word artist and award-nominated poet Kae Tempest has gathered in gravity and importance in recent years, with Covid-era album ‘The Line is a Curve’ landing straight in the UK album chart at Number 8. Their UK and Ireland tour swings by the new-and-improved Cyprus Avenue.
- Friday May 6; Cyprus Avenue
A double-header of the finest Irish psychedelic rock by way of the debut presentation of Cork promoters TNT (Albert Twomey, ex-PLUGD Records, and Michelle Rumley, ex-Bradleys): Waterford-original kosmiche trio Percolator’s heft is matched by Belfast outfit Junk Drawer’s psych-pop reflections on modernity and the circumstances.
- Friday May 7; Cyprus Avenue
Brighton post-punks Squid are one of the stories of UK independent music’s Covid period, following their pre-pandemic momentum with the 2021 release of debut album ‘Bright Green Field’, which went in at #1 in the UK album charts. Resuming touring after postponed dates throughout the crisis, this Cork date in particular is rescheduled from January.
- Tuesday May 17; Cork Opera House
Dear, sweet Neil Hannon and his live collaborators are back on the road, as the silver-throated Derry man celebrates his 30-plus-year career to date with the release of ‘Charmed Life’, a best-of that conveniently functions as an excuse to do a round of the hits, misses, and seldom-heard gems, including ‘National Express’ and ‘Something For The Weekend’.
- Tuesday May 17; Cyprus Avenue
UK art-rockers Public Service Broadcasting continue their mission to educate and entertain with a stop at Cyprus Avenue, off the September 2021 release of most recent long-player ‘Bright Magic’ - a concept album focused on evoking and exploring the spirit of the German city of Berlin.
- Friday May 27; Live at St. Luke’s
Two of Irish traditional music’s modern leading lights come together in the intimacy of the Northside’s sonic temple: virtuoso fiddler O'Raghallaigh wields his trademark, ten-string hardanger d’amore, while concertina player Cormac Begley explores his instrument’s lower-ends with second album ‘B’.
- Sunday May 29; The Everyman
Your writer grew up not too far from the North Cork wilderness where psych-pop hero Donovan Leitch put down roots - his mother often remarked on the fact that the man behind ‘Sunshine Superman’ and other at-one-time-inescapable hits was able to achieve the quiet life here at all. He plays a rare live set at the Everyman.
- Monday June 6 @ Live at the Marquee
One of the highlights of the final edition of Live at the Marquee - granted a stay of execution by the Covid crisis, ironically - is the return to Cork of American indie outfit The National. No strangers to our shore, of course - the Dessner brothers have also been curators and collaborators on the Sounds from a Safe Harbour festival, in this very city.
- Tuesday June 7 @ Cyprus Avenue
It’s easy to be cynical about the sudden and meteoric rise of pop lads Inhaler, led by Eli Hewson, who bears more than a passing resemblance to his father, U2 crooner Bono. They’ll have ample chance to cast off that stigma, including a headline show at Cyprus Avenue, after the release of debut LP ‘It Won’t Always Be Like This’.
- Wednesday June 8; Cyprus Avenue
Dundalk shoegazers Just Mustard have captured hearts and minds over the past number of years, with a dreamy, reverby sound that ebbs and flows with post-punk precision and trip-hop’s rhythmic sensibilities. What we’ve heard of second LP ‘Under Heart’ sounds like that titanic trajectory will continue for one of the country’s finest bands.
- Thursday June 16; Cyprus Avenue
A transatlantic collaboration between Belfast piper John McSherry (Lunasa, Ulaid) and three Detroit based musicians - piper/whistler/Grammy-nominated producer Tyler Duncan (Carly Rae Jepsen, Scary Pockets); drummer Michael Shimmin; and bassist Joe Dart (Vulfpeck, Fearless Flyers). As much of a musical melting pot as it sounds.
- Tuesday June 22; Live at the Marquee
Synth-pop exponents The Pet Shop Boys finally arrive in town for a long-delayed date under the Marquee on Monahan Road - although the biggest surprise of all, for a renowned ‘singles’ act, is that this date forms part of their first greatest hits tour, only happening some four decades into their body of work!
- Wednesday June 23; Cork Opera House
American singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten returns to the Cork Opera House as part of the headline billing of this year’s Cork Midsummer Festival, in association with Leagues O’Toole’s Foggy Notions gig concern, ahead of the release of new album 'We've Been Going About This All Wrong'.
- Friday June 25; Live at the Marquee
And what precisely would the final year of the Marquee’s docklands residency be without an appearance from Ireland’s national treasure? Christy Moore puts on a good show out of sheer instinct at this stage of his body of work, and previous Marquee excursions have been no exception, drawing from Moore’s long and distinguished songbook.
- Wednesday June 29; Live at the Marquee
A very real coup for the promoters of the Marquee in its final year, in landing a gig from one of the genuine pop phenomena of the streaming era. Olivia Rodrigo caught mainstream attention with the release of debut single ‘drivers licence’, and has quickly stormed streaming services and radio playlisting with subsequent pop bijoux, including the Paramore-referencing ‘good 4 u’.
- Wednesday June 29; Cork Opera House
On the other side of town, the current configuration of UK prog-rock icons Yes is packing itself into the Opera House, replete with a full-scale visual and lighting production, not only dipping into a vast catalogue of genre-defining work, but performing seminal album ‘Relayer’ in its entirety.
- Friday July 1; Páirc Uí Chaoimh
One last round of European stadiums; and barring some arena shows postponed by the events of the Covid crisis, one last go-round with the hits for the Rocketman and live collaborators. This Cork date was narrowly pipped to the post for his last-ever Irish gig by a rescheduled Dublin date later in the year - yet again seeing the rebel city unfairly deprived of well-earned bragging rights.
- Friday July 15; Cyprus Avenue
Scots duo Aidan Moffat and Malcolm Middleton, aka Arab Strap, are back on the road to tour 2021 album ‘As Days Get Dark’, their first in sixteen years, their first new studio LP since their 2016 reunion, and their debut release for Rock Action Records, owned and operated by post-rock countrymen Mogwai.
- Tuesday July 26; Crane Lane Theatre
A double-bill of desert-rock psychedelia courtesy of the Paranoid Beast promotions crew, including LA outfit Nebula, featuring ex-members of stoner-rock legends Fu Manchu, and New Jersey riffmeisters The Atomic Bitchwax, featuring current members of US genre icons Monster Magnet.
- Friday July 29 to Sunday July 31; Mitchelstown
Mitchelstown’s annual weekender is back after two years on hiatus, and while mainstream names like Rudimental, Bastille and Fatboy Slim are going to draw casual interest, artists like The Scratch, Jafaris and Le Boom are among a strong contingent of homegrown fare over the July Bank Holiday Weekend.
- Friday August 12 & Saturday August 13; Páirc Uí Chaoimh
From boyband heart-throbs to daytime-radio entertainment staples, Westlife return to the Páirc for two nights in the summer, drawing on a pop career that spans two decades and numerous single and album number-ones.
- Thursday August 18; Cyprus Avenue
Eschewing the trappings and temptations of punk-rock nostalgia by continuing to tour and record, Northern Irish punks Stiff Little Fingers have been on the road for a staggering 45 years. You can rely on the appearances of anthems like ‘Alternative Ulster’ and ‘Suspect Device’, though.