David Gray (Opera House, Cork, March 1; National Opera House, Wexford, March 2; National Concert Hall (NCH), Dublin, March 4-5)
Sitting in those straight backed chairs in the National Concert Hall…stuck mid-row…and watching David Gray supported by David Kitt. Not everyone’s cup of tea, perhaps. But, once David Kitt is finished his set, the evening should improve. Gray is touring in support of his new album Skellig and is sure to play much from his back catalogue; including stuff from the masterful White Ladder album.
Saxon (3Olympia Theatre, Dublin, March 3; Ulster Hall, Belfast, March 4)
Arguably the least cool entry on this month’s list, but nearly 45 years after their self-titled debut album and playing bigger rooms than ever before, they’re as relevant as anyone else. What’s more, with the likes of Black Sabbath and Motorhead gone; Ozzy Osbourne having to retire and Iron Maiden getting annoyingly more selective with their setlists; Saxon – led by bona fide legend Biff Byford – stand out if what you’re looking for is old-school classic early 80s metal with no surprises. And seeing as they’ve progressed from the Academy to the Olympia, there are plenty who ARE looking for this. Carpe Diem remains their latest album, but even with their 25th album in the works, the classics – Wheels of Steel, And the Bands Played On, Dallas 1pm, Motorcycle Man, Princess of the Night, 747 (Strangers in the Night), The Strong Arm of the Law, Denim and Leather – won’t be forgotten.
Newton Faulkner (Limelight 2, Belfast, March 7; Roisin Dubh, Galway, March 9; Whelan’s, Dublin, March 10; Cyprus Avenue, Cork, March 11; Dolan’s Warehouse, Limerick, March 12)
Best known by the masses as the guy with the (very) long ginger dreads and 2007 hit single Dream Catch Me and album Hand Built By Robots, Faulkner – who now has seven albums under his belt and a successful West End stage musical career, notably as the lead in the London run of Green Day’s American Idiot show – has a full Irish tour in the offing with stops in Limerick, Cork, Dublin, Galway and Belfast. He’s back, so!
George Ezra (3Arena, Dublin, March 8; INEC, Killarney, March 10-11)
Rivalling Lizzo for the headline gig of the month; and gaining extra kudos for being one of that rarest of breeds – a megastar who plays more than just the one show at the 3Arena on their visit to Ireland. If you’re not a fan you probably still know enough to get by – the singles Budapest and Shotgun; the voice…but you may want to gen up more (new album Gold Rush Kid out now!) because chances are you’ll be going to see him at some point this year. These gigs are only a taster – he’s back in June for gigs at Ormeau Park, Belfast (the Belsonic Festival); and Cork’s Musgrave Park.
Prue Leith (3Olympia Theatre, Dublin, March 11)
Normally this column is just reserved for music gigs (otherwise we’d also be waxing lyrical about Frankie Boyle and Micky Flanagan, both of whom are here this month), but we couldn’t pass this up. Fans of The Great British Menu and The Great British Bake-Off will be queueing up for the Irish stop on this quirky tour, where the youngest looking 82-year old on the planet serves up a mix of anecdotes and life stories with a Q&A session. Ideal for a Mother’s Day gift, perhaps.
Death Cab For Cutie (Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin, March 19)
The lo-fi indie rockers, from the US north-west, who seem to have been around for ages, jet in for a quick date in Dublin just after the Paddy’s Day hangover kicks in. A step up for the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre too, by the way, which seems to be getting more adventurous with its bookings these days.
Sam Ryder (Ulster Hall, Belfast, March 17; 3Olympia Theatre, March 18)
If you’re looking for Shaun Ryder, you’re in the wrong place. It’s not Sam Fender, either. No, its Sam Ryder – the long-haired blonde guy who claims to straddle everything from alternative rock and metalcore to mainstream pop…and (kind of) won the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK. Confused? He’s basically that person you know who can, annoyingly, play any song at a party. Go see for yourselves.
Lizzo (3Arena, Dublin, March 13)
Multi-Grammy winner, Emmy winner, featured in The Simpsons…the world officially loves Lizzo, including Dublin, as her triumphant return here (in support of her new album Special) seems largely sold out. If you can’t get to see her this month, she’s back – in Belfast, for Belsonic – in June.
All Time Low (3Olympia Theatre, Dublin, March 13)
The ‘not-cancelled’ US emo-rock act are in town to play the Olympia in the middle of the month. We’ll leave that one there.
W.A.S.P. (National Stadium, Dublin, March 25)
These mid-80s LA shock metal pioneers form a curious footnote in Irish cultural history – given that they were one of the very few touring bands to be banned from playing here under Ireland’s heavy censorship laws in the latter quarter of the 20th Century. Frequent visitors to Ireland over their career ever since, W.A.S.P.’s first Dublin show (at the old SFX hall) was in support of their 1986 album Inside The Electric Circus. But, while still popular, their danger and edge had all but gone and their star was already waning, after the comet-like one-two punch of their first two albums W.A.S.P. (1984) and The Last Command (1985). Irish fans were cheated out of seeing them in their full gory glory (raw meat thrown into the crowd, flaming logo backdrop, writhing models in cages etc etc), as the Dublin date on their first European Tour two years previously, in 1984, was banned on grounds of taste. That concert tour (the London date, at least) is freely visible on YouTube (and was released in the ’80s as the Live at the Lyceum VHS live video), but the date at Dublin’s TV Club never happened – although its cancellation made the Irish and UK national papers and is still brought up in interviews with W.A.S.P. founder and vocalist Blackie Lawless. Anyway, this tour – which was postponed due to Covid, rather than censors – hits the National Stadium this month and promises to pay homage to the original album/tour – W.A.S.P.’s 15 minutes of fame and glory – 40 years after the crime.
Eels (Limelight 1, Belfast, March 30; 3Olympia Theatre, Dublin, March 31)
Amazingly it’s nearly 30 years – and a hell of a lot of music – since Novocaine for the Soul and Beautiful Freak, but Eels and Mark Oliver Everett keep going. Latest album Extreme Witchcraft came out last year. The band’s latest visit to Ireland sees them play decent sized gigs in Dublin and Belfast at the end of the month.
Tori Amos (3Olympia Theatre, Dublin, March 28-29)
It doesn’t really matter if you’re listening to her most recent album Ocean to Ocean or know nothing beyond her early classics Little Earthquakes (1992) and Under the Pink (1994), it’s Tori Amos and she’s awesomer than awesome – and even though a frequent visitor to these shores, always worth the admission price.
Ed Sheeran (3Arena, Dublin, March 30)
In case you didn’t get your fill last year – when the ginger genius played 8 mega outdoor stadium shows across Ireland, covering 2 shows each at Croke Park, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Thomond Park and Belfast’s Boucher Playing Fields, Ed Sheeran is back…again! This time, in support of new album ‘Subtract’ (which comes out in early May) he will play Dublin’s 3Arena on March 30. Tickets go on sale through Ticketmaster on March 10 at 9am.
Blackberry Smoke (The Telegraph Building, Belfast, March 29; 3Olympia Theatre, Dublin, March 30)
US southern rock specialists, Blackberry Smoke make a rare trip to Ireland in support of their sixth album You Hear Georgia, which came out in 2021.
Chris Shiflett (Whelan’s, Dublin, March 21)
For such an earth-conquering, world-shattering band, the Foo Fighters are almost unique in their anonymity – in that – to all but their immediate fanbase – they have very few identifiable members – other than Dave Grohl and late great drummer Taylor Hawkins, and Pat Smear. (Maybe it’s just us….but Rami Jaffee? Nate Mendel?) Chris Shiflett could be fixing your fridge and you’d ponder “weren’t you the guy who fixed my boiler?” But, no, he’s the lead guitarist for Foo Fighters. Away from his day job, Chris Shiflett & The Dead Peasants saw him shift in a more country-tinged direction, while his out and out solo albums – the third being this year’s Lost at Sea – veer more towards honky tonk.