Music Preview 2018
David Pollock looks forward to some music highlights for the year ahead
The music scene kicks back into life this month after a quiet December and in Scotland, there are two things that clearly signpost the new year. One; it’s the 25th anniversary of the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow, which uses a very broad definition of what music with Scottish roots sounds like to present a wide array of interesting international guests, one-off shows and curated collaborations; see The Hot Ticket for more info. Two; bands who want to make a splash get in early with their new album, while few others are putting work out and they can gather a lot of attention.
In 2018, two of Scotland’s most exciting veteran art-pop groups make their return early, with Franz Ferdinand releasing Always Ascending (on 09 February; playing the Academy, Glasgow, 17 February), their first album in five years and since the departure of guitarist Nick McCarthy, and addictive art school electro crowd Django Django comes back with its third LP Marble Skies on 26 January, with live dates at Fat Sam’s, Dundee, 26 February; Garage, Aberdeen, 27 February; and SWG3, Glasgow, 01 March.
Throughout spring and into summer, Scotland will this year attract a load of high profile shows on the largest stages in the country, the most impressive among them being – no matter what you think of his music – Ed Sheeran’s astonishingly ambitious three-night run at Hampden Park in Glasgow, which runs from Friday 01 to Sunday 03 June. The other big outdoor headline show of summer 2018 announced so far is Bruno Mars, who’s playing Glasgow Green in the heart of the city on 10 July.
Staying on Glasgow Green, most people seem to have noticed that T in the Park is off the menu for the foreseeable future, and that the TRNSMT festival is here to stay. This year, in fact, it’s escalated from a single weekender to five days’ worth of gigs over two weekends (29 June to 01 July, then 06 and 08 July), with the Stereophonics and Liam Gallagher announced as the first two days’ headliners. That’s a bit predictable, but the younger Gallagher brother has been an artist reborn lately, thanks to the success of As You Were, and the festival has moved to address complaints last year about the lack of female artists on the bill with slots for Wolf Alice and Jessie J, so far.
In other Gallagher news, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds takes to Glasgow’s Hydro stage in support of the new album Who Stole the Moon? on 24 April, while the same venue also hosts Arcade Fire on 16 April, Manic Street Preachers on 25 April and young Londoner and ‘New Rules’ singer Dua Lipa on 12 April. For something a bit more eclectic, meanwhile, try Kendrick Lamar and James Blake (Hydro, Glasgow, 11 February), Four Tet (Barrowlands, Glasgow, 16 February) or Young Fathers (Barrowlands, Glasgow, 24 March), while the Electric Fields festival is back at Drumlanrig Castle in Dumfries & Galloway on 31 August and 01 September.