It's that time of the year again when critics like to summon the hellish powers of Sauron and predict the shape of things to come in 2012. If we get it right, rest assured we'll smugly remind you of our incredible foresight come late December; if we get it wrong, well, you'll have long forgotten by then just how badly fate has duffed us up and smashed our glasses, won't you?
It's fair to say that I spectacularly failed to predict that Rihanna would be spotted frolicking topless in a unionist farmer's field in Antrim last summer, so what do I know? Expect Lady Gaga to take up a weekly live residency in Borris-in-Ossory this autumn.
Gigs OF 2012
The big news this year is what's NOT happening -- the dropping of the Oxegen festival from the live calendar is a depressing sign of the times, but at least we can content ourselves in the knowledge that the Electric Picnic is still carrying on regardless in late August.
The Oxegen-shaped hole in the summer is filled by big arena shows from Red Hot Chili Peppers, who show off their muscles and moustaches in Croke Park in June; Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, who play their first shows here since the passing of sax player Clarence Clemons, in the RDS Showjumping Arena on July 17 and 18; and not forgetting Westlife, who bid farewell with two shows in Croke Park on June 22 and 23.
The Stone Roses reunion after more than 15 years of acrimony is perhaps the most eagerly anticipated gig of the summer, when they play the Phoenix Park on July 5.
The O2 also hosts its fair share of marquee events this year: the ever-popular Snow Patrol bring their anthemic angst there for a two-night stand later this month (January 20 and 21), while Van Morrison plays his first Dublin show in a decade in the docklands venue on February 4.
Fresh from his star turn in Treme, Elvis Costello and his band The Imposters do their spinning jukebox thing there on May 9. And all-American rock legends Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers (pictured above) play an all-too-rare Irish gig there on June 7 before heading down south to the Cork Marquee the next day.
three IRISH ARTISTS FOR 2012
Pitched somewhere between the pastoral sounds of Laura Marling and the intimate bleeps of The Postal Service, Elaine Mai is a real find. The Galway native also plays in Go Panda Go and Laurie Leech & The Words but her first steps as a solo artist are very encouraging.
If sumptuous mellow-tronica is your thing, look no further than Cork's own electro king Toby Kaar. Perhaps it's the southern air, but these are ridiculously chilled-out sounds that will almost make you want to take up yoga.
No, not a note to myself to include an equality authority-approved female group in my list but a Dublin combo made up of four blokes, led by singer Dara Kiely. They strike multiple musical poses, often of the post-Strokes Noo Wave variety. We like their attitude -- and, yes, their name. They're playing a bunch of gigs in the capital this month.
WEBSITE FOR 2012
All of the above acts (and some below) are featured on www.breakingtunes.com, where you can stream songs for free, as well as read biogs and tour dates of the artists. Breaking tunes is sponsored by First Music Contact, which is involved with the annual new band festival in the capital, Hard Working Class Heroes.
LABEL TO WATCH IN 2012
Indie haven (make that indie heaven) Popical Island are busy bees this year, with new albums coming thick and fast from The Walpurgis Family, whose second album Dawn is out on January 27; Grand Pocket Orchestra, whose new record is due at the end of February; Pantone 247 and Lie-Ins, both of which feature Groom singer and label manager Mike Stevens; the third album from the superbly named Mumblin' Deaf Ro ... and a label compilation Popical Island #3, which is slated for release at the end of June.
And Popical stalwarts Yeh Deadlies, Groom, Land Lovers and Tieranniesaur -- the latter's self-titled debut was one of last year's finest -- are all working on new albums which should drop by year's end.
That's enough to be going on with for now. Feel free to contact me with any suggestions by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or twitter (@nickkellyindo)