Over the past year, we've tuned in, adjusted our screens, perhaps even invested in semi-decent speakers and made our sitting rooms as atmospheric and venue-like as possible.
After being thrown into the chaos of a pandemic, where the word 'unprecedented' has taken on new meaning for everyone on the planet, it's fair to say that the live music industry has well and truly rallied. We are lucky to have the option of continuing to hear and see our favourite bands and musicians play on screen. But let's face it: as great as many of them have been, watching a livestreamed gig just isn't the same, is it?
Whether or not we'll see the return of live music here in Ireland this summer is obviously dependent on a lot of factors – namely 1) the speed of the vaccination rollout amongst all age groups and 1) the willingness of the government to acknowledge the possibility of either going down the 'rapid testing' route for large events, or opening venues once a percentage of the population have received their jabs.
Considering how live events in the UK – where the vaccination programme is miles ahead of what we have seen at home – are ramping up once again (not to pre-pandemic levels, of course), it gives some cause to be optimistic. Then you have events like the EXIT Festival in Serbia, which has just announced that it will proceed as planned in July thanks to Serbia's “very successful campaign of mass vaccination.”
The million dollar question is: will large gigs go ahead as planned in Ireland this summer? And do outdoor shows have a better chance of going ahead? Clearly it's not for us to make that call and the situation is a constantly-evolving one. What we can tell you is that the majority of press releases landing in our inbox – at least for those mammoth gigs – are for late 2021 and 2022, and many of the larger touring acts (like Celine Dion and The Killers, for example) have once again rescheduled their tours to next year. However, that doesn't speak for Irish-based acts, who wouldn't necessarily have to go through the kerfuffle of international travel to play to local crowds. It really all does depend on whether promoters are permitted to host mass gatherings or not.
However, if you're choosing to be optimistic, here are ten gigs to look forward to (that haven't been cancelled.... yet) this summer:
DERMOT KENNEDY – ST. ANNE'S PARK | JUNE 4TH & 12th
These gigs – Kennedy's biggest hometown shows to date – were due to take place last summer but postponed for obvious reasons. As it stands, they're still due to go ahead in June at the beautiful St. Anne's Park in Raheny. Indeed, Kennedy has a whole slew of Irish tour dates lined up during June and July.
MICHAEL KIWANUKA – TRINITY SUMMER SERIES | JUNE 28TH
The Mercury Prize-winning Londoner is scheduled to play the intimate outdoor Trinity Summer Series in the grounds of Ireland's most famous university. Other gigs taking place at the same venue include Haim, Beck, The Specials and Crowded House. Fingers crossed as with the right summer evening weather, it's a lovely vibe for a gig.
HELLA MEGA TOUR FEATURING GREEN DAY, WEEZER AND FALL OUT BOY – RDS | JUNE 30TH
As things stand, all the European dates of this mammoth tour are proceeding – but that may not continue to be the case, so keep an eye on listings. For fans of pop-punk and grungey rock, this is a pretty strong line-up.
PIXIES – FESTIVAL BIG TOP, GALWAY | JULY 15TH AND 16TH
Pixies always pull in big audiences for their Irish shows, and providing they go ahead, these two gigs in Galway will be no exception. Black Francis and co. will be touring their 2019 album 'Beneath the Eyrie', which seems like a million years ago at this point.
SINEAD O'CONNOR – IVEAGH GARDENS | JULY 17TH
She may be selling her house and publishing her autobiography this summer, but Sinead O'Connor has a few shows lined up to show off what she does best, too. The Dubliner is one of several acts playing the gorgeous Iveagh Gardens series, and this could be a very cathartic gig experience.
ALL TOGETHER NOW – CURRAGHMORE, WATERFORD | JULY 30TH – AUGUST 1ST
Where will be be in August? It's anyone's guess. Nevertheless, out of all summer festival possibilities, we're hedging our bets on All Together Now going ahead on the August Bank Holiday weekend; so far, Iggy Pop, Underworld and Sinead O'Connor have been confirmed. Miracles can happen.
FONTAINES DC – CUSTOM HOUSE SQUARE, BELFAST | AUGUST 13TH
Considering how Northern Ireland's vaccination rollout has proven a lot speedier than the Republic's, does that mean that Northern Irish Fontaines DC fans have a better chance of seeing the Dublin band live this summer? That said, they're due to play Dublin's Iveagh Gardens on July 2nd and 3rd, so don't give up hope yet...
ELBOW – 3ARENA | AUGUST 28TH
Will we be in a place whether indoor gigs are possible by late August? Let's sincerely hope so – as an Elbow gig is always like an aural hug. God knows we need a few feel-good emotional indie anthems after the year we've had.
SODA BLONDE – WHELAN'S | SEPTEMBER 12TH
Oh, how we miss Whelan's. We solemnly swear that we will never, ever again complain about the front bar being too dark, or the back bar being too small, or how the 'old Whelan's' was better in our day. Stick a band like Soda Blonde – a relatively new act we've yet to see live – touring their debut album in the mix, and you've got a potentially memorable night out.
DUA LIPA – 3ARENA | SEPTEMBER 18TH & 19TH
Perhaps of all gigs later this year, we're crossing our fingers most tightly for this one. 'Future Nostalgia' was our favourite album of 2020, and Dua Lipa is arguably the biggest (and best) pop star of her generation. We'd kill to see her live.