John Meagher’s top music picks for 2019 – albums, gigs and rising stars
There are times where you would be forgiven for thinking that we're about to kick off 1999, rather than 2019. After all, two of the biggest gigs of the year will feature Westlife and the Spice Girls and there's a farewell tour from Boyzone as well as a new album from The Backstreet Boys.
If that sounds hellish, don't fear - there are albums on the way from everyone from Sharon Van Etten to Bruce Springsteen, gigs from Massive Attack and Fleetwood Mac, and a return of All Together Now as well as the widely loved Electric Picnic.
Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared? January 18
The US alt-rock favourites led by the enigmatic Bradford Cox return with an eighth album. Cate Le Bon is among the producers and a lead single, 'Death in Midsummer', bodes well.
Sharon Van Etten
Remind Me Tomorrow, January 18
One of the great troubadours of her generation, Van Etten's latest, and first since 2014's much admired Are We There, is eagerly awaited. First single 'Comeback Kid' was well received.
DNA, January 25
Anything Boyzone can do… Backstreet Boys can do better. Or so you'd think. The ageing boyband have enlisted the assistance of pure pop producer Ryan Tedder to ensure the hits flow.
Toast to our Differences, January 25
The drum'n'bass band have recruited several guests for this third album, including Major Lazer and James Arthur, while a single, the Jess Glynne-assisted 'These Days', was a UK chart-topper.
Why You So Crazy? January 25
Thought the 'Bohemian Like You' hit-makers were a thing of the past? So did I. But Courtney Taylor-Taylor and pals are back with an album that attempts to fuse rock and pop.
Five, February 1
It's somewhat surprising that the English outfit's brand of gloomy, yet anthemic rock hasn't made them Muse-big. This fifth album might change that. It's their first on cool label [PIAS] Recordings.
Ripples, February 1
The Stone Roses main-man has been quiet on the solo front of late, and this album will mark his first in 10 years. It's a family affair: his sons have co-songwriting credit on three tracks.
Tip of the Sphere, February 8
The prolific US singer-songwriter returns with a ninth album which he wrote and recorded quickly. His aim? "Raw immediacy and a special balance of compassion and experimentation", apparently.
Ladytron, February 15
The Liverpudlian gothy synth-pop band have been around for almost 20 years. Their good stuff is really very good and this sixth album arrives after a crowd-funding exercise.
Weezer, March 1
Weezer's line of self-titled albums tend to be referred to by the dominant colour of the sleeve design, so this one will inevitably be called 'The Black Album'.
Still on My Mind, March 8
Written and recorded with her brother, Rollo, the English singer's first album in six years will, reportedly, display Dido's "love of hip-hop and her folk roots". Unusually for her, she will tour the album.
Gold in a Brass Age, March 8
The man behind the best-selling album ever in this country, White Ladder, returns with a record that is more electronically minded than before. Ben DeVries produces.
Lana Del Rey
Norman Fucking Rockwell, March 25
Norman Rockwell, to the uninitiated, was an American painter celebrated for his portraits of American life in the middle decades of the 20th century. Quite how he's so displeased Del Rey is anyone's guess.
The Flaming Lips
King's Mouth, April 13
The ever-busy Wayne Coyne is on his 15th Flaming Lips album but this is cut from different cloth. Apparently, The Clash's Mick Jones will be providing "narration" - Coyne's word - on every song.
Title to be confirmed, Spring
Dolores O'Riordan was working on this album at the time of her death in January of this year. It is being completed by her erstwhile bandmates, but details are scant.
Title TBC, Summer
A new album from the Boss is always a big deal for his legions of Irish fans. For now, admirers can enjoy the live album, Springsteen on Broadway, capturing his recent New York shows.
Notes on a Conditional Form, Summer
They may have only just released a new album, A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships, but Matt Healy and friends have been restless of late and this fourth album is already done and dusted.
The Academy, Dublin, February 6
Evan Dando was a poster boy for hook-laden US alt-rock in the early 1990s and it's good to see him return with his old band. Expect to hear plenty from their big-selling Come on Feel the Lemonheads album.
Vicar Street, Dublin, February 18
The Cork maestros were superb at the National Concert Hall this year when focusing on their 1985 album, The Clock Comes Down the Stairs.
3Arena, Dublin, February 24
The gig of 2019? One of the very best British groups of the past 30 years bring their classic Mezzanine album on the road again.
National Concert Hall, Dublin March 4 - 11
The trad supergroup play seven nights at a venue that's become something of a home from home in recent years. If you've never seen the quintet in action, don't pass up this chance.
Nicki Minaj and Future
3Arena, Dublin, March 15
This co-headlining tour, dubbed (wait for it) NickiHndrxx, will see two of the world's biggest hip-hop stars sharing a stage in Dublin after a mammoth US jaunt.
The World of Hans Zimmer
3Arena, Dublin, March 25
The German composer is one of the biggest players in Hollywood today and has scored more than 150 films. This global tour is a veritable best-of.
Croke Park, Dublin, May 24
Girl power 1990s style returns, sans Victoria Beckham. Scary, Baby, Sporty and the other one will kick off their stadium tour in Dublin and tickets sold out remarkably fast.
Bulmers Forbidden Fruit
Royal Hospital Kilmainham, Dublin June bank holiday weekend
The hardy annual rarely disappoints, and the 2019 headliners, Skepta and Elbow among them, demonstrate the festival's diverse reach. Homegrown favourites Saint Sister will be on the bill, too.
Slane Castle, Co Meath, June 8
It's the monster gig that lives on, irrespective of fashion. And hard-rock gods Metallica will pull them in in their thousands to the banks of the Boyne.
3Arena, Dublin, June 12 and 13
It's billed as the 'Farewell Yellow Brick Road' tour and it will see the veteran singer perform some of his biggest hits, including 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road'. Incredibly, tickets are also available for his December 2020 gigs at the same venue.
RDS Arena, Dublin, June 13
They've had a bit of internal trouble of late, including a court case taken by Lindsey Buckingham, but they'll put their differences behind them for a world tour that began this month.
RDS Arena, Dublin, June 15 & 16
Jon Bon Jovi and pals mightn't be to most critics' tastes, but they know how to put on a show.
All Together Now
Curraghmore House, Co Waterford, August bank holiday weekend
The festival, seen by some as what Electric Picnic was like in its early years, was a great success last year and it's back for a second instalment. The National are among the headliners.
Stradbally, Co Laois August 30 - September 1
The country's long-running festival sold out before a line-up was even announced. We'll know some of the headliners in the New Year.
Trip to Tipp Weekender
Semple Stadium, Thurles, Co Tipperary, September 21 & 22
After last year's Féile Classical went down a storm, the nostalgia fest will return next year as a two-day event. Cork bands Sultans of Ping and The Frank and Walters are both set to play.
Ones to watch
After a 2018 in which virtually everyone seemed to be talking about the young Norwegian pop star, Sigrid will finally release her debut album, Sucker Punch, on March 1. If early singles 'Strangers' and 'Don't Kill My Vibe' are anything to go by, the album from the 22-year-old will be among the most essential pop releases of 2019. Her tour comes to the 3Arena, Dublin on November 22, with only a few tickets still available. What is it about Scandinavians and their ability to deliver pop that's that bit better than the norm?
He's been one to watch for a couple of years now, but 2019 is set to be the year when the Co Louth musician delivers on that undoubted talent. His debut album will finally see the light of day next year - it was recorded in London with acclaimed producer John Reynolds. It follows hot on the heels of a series of excellent EPs that demonstrate Keenan's songwriting gifts and his way with an acoustic guitar.
The Dubliner has made the BBC's increasingly influential 'Sound Of' list predicting next year's stars. He's already a significant figure in this country - commanding sold-out shows at the Olympia - and he's made quite a name for himself in the US, but 2019 is the year that Kennedy will go supernova. A debut album - long-awaited - is likely to be out in the summer. He credits his success to Spotify and his songs have over 300 million plays on the steaming platform.
Described by Pitchfork as the "UK's most exciting - and most excitable - rapper", Tyron Frampton has made a name for himself back home for his riotous live performances which see him strip down to his boxers. He made quite an impression in September when he played the intimate surrounds of Dublin's Workman's Club. He has also been known to rap despairingly over the UK national anthem and to be carried on stage in a coffin.