Heading home in the next few months and want to catch a headlining act? TONY CLAYTON-LEA points the way
Luke who? I hear you ask. Okay, so this North Carolina country music singer may not be in the same name-recognition as Willie Nelson or Garth Brooks, but Combs is a three-time Grammy Award nominee and a multi nominee for the Country Music Association Awards (his wins here include New Artist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, Album of the Year, and Song of the Year). In other words, he is no slouch when it comes to popularity, which is why he is playing as significant a venue as 3Arena, and why his true-blue country songs have such appeal with die-hard C&W fans.
Where and when: 3Arena, Dublin, October 13
Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys owe the Irish public a debt – they were due to play a huge sold out open-air gig during the summer at Dublin’s Marlay Park but had to cancel because the band’s lead singer, Alex Turner, had been diagnosed with acute laryngitis. A few days later, the band headlined Glastonbury, but here they are again playing four arena-sized shows to make it up to their fans. One night at Belfast’s SSE Arena, and three nights at Dublin’s 3Arena is no small achievement, especially when you consider how far the band’s music has travelled, stylistically speaking, from its raw, early days. Here’s hoping Turner’s voice is in tip-top shape.
Where and when: 3Arena, Dublin, October 15/17/19; SSE Arena, Belfast, October 16.
It seems like a shifting of tectonic plates within the pop/rock landscape that S Club 7 are playing a gig in the same venue that Arctic Monkeys play before and after them, but such is the rich tapestry of life in which we are wrapped. A brief history: formed in 1998 and managed by former Spice Girls’ head honcho Simon Fuller, for five years the S Club 7 bubble was bright, big, and bouncy – and then it burst into bits and bobs. The group hasn’t released a studio album in over 20 years, so this show – billed as part of their Good Times Tour - will consist of hit singles such as Bring It All Back, Reach, S Club Party, Two in a Million, and You’re My Number One. Bring your dancing shoes and memories.
Where and when: 3Arena, Dublin, October 16.
Did you now that this ‘boy’ band’s initials stand for Jack the Lad Swing? No, me neither until Google came along, but let’s hear it for JLS, nonetheless. The quartet first came to prominence in 2008 during the fifth series of the reality music show, The X Factor. Within five years, despite huge success, JLS broke up (Jack the Lad Split?) but six years later, in 2019, they regrouped and set about reclaiming lost time, fair weather fans and (can we be cynical for a second?) loss of earnings. So here they are again – Jack the Lad Standing.
Where and when: 3Arena, Dublin, October 20.
Has any other Irish band of the past ten years gained such a huge following in such a short space of time? It’s unlikely, but County Kildare band Picture This have never been ones to hang around. From their start in 2015, they hurtled out of the traps, gaining ground while too many other bands stalled. From those early days, they have established themselves as real crowd pleasers, while a new management deal has opened up Europe to their music. We reckon that Europe, too, will fall for their charms.
Where and when: SSE Arena, Belfast, October 19/20; INEC Arena, Killarney, County Kerry, October 21/22; 3Arena, Dublin, October 25/26.
In the past five years, Dublin’s Inhaler have risen rapidly from support slots in small venues to headlining arena-size shows – for a band with a mere two albums to their name, that’s some feat. For what it’s worth, I sense the band didn’t in any way get to where they are at this point by their connection with U2’s Bono (Inhaler’s lead singer is Elijah Hewson, his eldest son). Initially, there may have been curiosity, but you can only have that for so long before you either hang around or walk away. Also - a father and then his son headlining 3Arena? We think that’s a first.
Where and when: 3Arena, Dublin, November 11.
Fronted by Danny O’Reilly (son of acclaimed Irish singer Mary Black), The Coronas have been around for a while, but there seems to be no end to their creative rebirths. It isn’t that they reinvent the wheel for each album they release, but that they make a point of fine-tuning what they do to the extent that new songs sound if they’ve been spring-cleaned. Last year’s album, Time Stopped (their seventh) was described by the Irish Times as ‘quality melancholic pop songs by musicians who had been waiting in the wings for several years to regenerate like a musical version of Dr Who’, which pretty much hits the nail on the head. All of the shows listed below are sold out.
Where and when: 3Olympia, Dublin, December 14-17; Vicar Street, Dublin December 21; INEC Arena, Killarney, Co. Kerry, December 28.
Damien Dempsey may not be playing a major venue, but six sold-out nights in Vicar Street is big enough to warrant inclusion here. Indeed, the beloved Dublin singer and songwriter continues his annual pre-Christmas run of gigs in a way that gives new meaning to the idea of a residency. As anyone that has had the good fortune to see Ross Killeen’s 2021’s documentary, Love Yourself Today, Dempsey’s appeal stretches far beyond his songs – to many of his devoted fans, he is a representation of self-help. Go, enjoy, think, process, heal.
Where and when: Vicar Street, Dublin December 16/17/19/20/22/23.
Three nights at 3Arena is some feat, and no mistake, but if any year was going to be Hozier’s then 2023 was going to be the one. During the summer he had sold out his show at Malahide Castle, and in the lead up to the release of his third album over a month ago a single show at the indoor venue had been announced. Within days another show was added, and then a third, two of which are now sold out (as will the third, unless you’re either quick about it or you know someone who knows someone!).
Where and when: 3Arena, Dublin, December 19/20/22.
You would never think those sprightly young men from Basildon would, 45 years later, still be getting up on stages and singing New Life and Just Can’t Get Enough. As their fans know by this point, however, DM soon changed from perky schoolboys with scrubbed-up cheeks and colourful dickie bows into serious, industrial rock behemoths dressed head to toe in black. The twist? The band - now down to two core original members, Dave Gahan and Martin Gore, following the death of Andy Fletcher last year – maintained their unerring knack of creating enduring pop melodies out of proverbial thin air.
Where and when: 3Arena, Dublin, February 3