At a time of year when it is customary to look ahead and tip fresh new talent, we bring glad tidings of two hot young artists heading your way in 2014 – Elvis Presley and John Lennon. Remember their names.
Hip young gunslinger Presley brings his much-vaunted show Elvis Presley On Stage to Edinburgh’s Playhouse and Glasgow’s Clyde Auditorium at the start of May. He won’t actually be there in person, owing to his death in 1977, but, in an exciting new development for live music, Presley proves that passing on is no barrier to touring. The deal is that a big band plays live along to archive footage of Presley in concert, turning in a more exciting performance on screen than many acts manage in the flesh. The motivation for this latest tour, other than making pots of money, is to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Presley’s recording of That’s All Right and therefore, in many fans’ eyes, the birth of rock’n’roll itself.
At least John Lennon – or John Lennon McCullagh to give him his full, somewhat loaded name – should make it to his shows in person. McCullagh is a 15-year-old troubadour from Doncaster who appears to have fallen out of the same modern-music-is-rubbish mould as Jake Bugg and The Strypes and is one of the first signings to Alan McGee’s new label 359 Music. His tour brings him to Glasgow on 7 March and Gourock two days later.
Elvis may not be entering the building but there will be other opportunities to catch music legends in concert this year. Beyoncé caused a predictable scrum for tickets when she announced two Glasgow dates (20 and 21 February) on her Mrs Carter Show Tour. Singular country diva Dolly Parton also graces the Hydro stage with her pristine vocals and charming chatter on 17 and 18 June, preceded by a new album, Blue Smoke, in May. And is it wrong to be excited at the prospect of the return of Barry Manilow? The veteran balladeer brings some Vegas razzmatazz to the Hydro on 19 May.
Pop fans are spoilt for choice this spring, with the Hydro again mopping up most of the hysteria. Justin Timberlake is the hipster option (4 and 5 April) but the surprise hot ticket is McBusted, a supergroup comprising the four members of McFly plus the two guys from Busted who are still interested in revisiting their chirpy pop punk days, with four dates at the arena. Backstreet Boys and their special guests All Saints will be hoping that some of that reunion fortune blows their way on 3 April, while Miley Cyrus and Katy Perry juke it out with respective dates in May. Both Robbie Williams and Gary Barlow also bring their solo shows to town but even these seasoned hands can expect to be trampled by the One Direction army heading eastwards for their Murrayfield date on 3 June. Batten down the hatches or surrender to the mayhem.
Album sales remain at a low ebb but that has not discouraged a steady flow of new releases lined up for 2014. The first few weeks alone will yield High Hopes from Bruce Springsteen, an album of covers and outtakes featuring Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello and past contributions from late E Street Band members Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici. The indomitable Sharon Jones roars back from cancer treatment with the delayed release of Give The People What They Want, while Broken Bells, Damien Jurado, Steve Malkmus and the sublime Tom Brosseau provide a gentler start to the year.
Having recently shared a new track, Ordinary Love, from the Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom soundtrack, U2 are expected to make a typically understated comeback by announcing their forthcoming album with an advert at the Superbowl in February. And if we’re very good, we might hear two albums from Beck this year. Morning Phase, slated for release in February, has been described as a companion piece to his mellow 2002 album Sea Change, with more material to come later in the year.
Emeli Sande’s Our Version Of Events was the top-selling UK album of the past two years but, with new songs in her live set, there have been hints of a follow-up album at some point this year. At the opposite end of the commercial spectrum, the Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed continues his adventures in musical DIY with Mind Trap and Mogwai follow the January release of their new album, Rave Tapes, with what will surely be the loudest Celtic Connections gig ever at the Royal Concert Hall.
Many of Scotland’s boutique festivals are back this year, with tickets already on sale for Knockengorroch World Ceilidh (22-25 May), Kelburn Garden Party (4-6 July), Wickerman (25 and 26 July), Tartan Heart (8 and 9 August), Doune the Rabbit Hole (22-24 August), and one bijou addition in the shape of Lost Map’s Howlin’ Fling on Eigg (18-20 July), while big daddy T In The Park (11-13 July) has already netted Arctic Monkeys as this year’s first headliner.
Finally, music fans can respond to the outcome of a certain referendum in September, either by partying at the MTV Europe Music Awards, to be held in Glasgow in early November, or marking the end of the world as we know it with Jeff Wayne’s War Of the Worlds’ final tour, which lays waste to the Hydro later in the month.