Arts preview of 2018: Fiona Shepherd on the year ahead in pop

Trusty old stagers with new albums and tours look set to eclipse up-and-coming youngsters in 2018

Franz Ferdinand  PIC: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Franz Ferdinand PIC: Kevin Winter/Getty Images


Celtic Connections celebrates its 25th year with a well-deserved pat on the back at its all-star opening concert (18 January), and with a spot of stunt cycling at its most ambitious event to date, Bothy Culture & Beyond (27 January), which will reassemble the Grit Orchestra for a massed folk/jazz/classical celebration of the music of Martyn Bennett while stunt cyclist Danny MacAskill whirls around the venue – phew, folk’n’roll!

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Meanwhile, in Dumfries, the Big Burns Supper (18-28 January) boasts an eclectic, nay eccentric music strand encompassing the likes of Donovan, Public Service Broadcasting, Badly Drawn Boy, Eddi Reader, Camille O’Sullivan and the Bay City Rollers, while Aviemore’s Groove Cairngorm (23-24 February) is the winter festival for those who like to mix their snowsports with a diet of DJs and live music.

A number of Scottish artists are quick off the blocks with new releases. In January, expect a new album, Marble Skies, from Django Django and the second in a trio of EPs from Belle & Sebastian, entitled How to Solve Our Human Problems, while old age punks The Skids release the Youth-produced Burning Cities, their first album of new material in 27 years.

In February, Simple Minds will accompany Walk Between Worlds – “more inspired by the likes of Sly & The Family Stone than a traditional male rock band” according to frontman Jim Kerr – with an appearance at Barrowland almost 35 years after they re-opened the doors of this much loved ballroom.

Arguably even greater shakes await with the unveiling of Franz Ferdinand’s latest album Always Ascending, their first with their new five-piece line-up following the departure of founding guitarist Nick McCarthy. Though Morrissey will be looking to upstage their hometown gig at the Academy (17 February) with his own shindig at the Hydro on the same night.

For those in search of new sounds, Brit Critics Choice winner Jorja Smith plays Edinburgh’s Liquid Room (6 February) though the gig of the season could well be the brilliant Kendrick Lamar at the Hydro (11 February).


Ironically, there are not so many fresh new faces around once spring has sprung. That hip young gunslinger Jimi Hendrix lands a new album of previously unreleased licks called Both Sides of The Sky at the start of March and Roy Orbison appears as a hologram on the In Dreams tour.

Back on this side of the grave, Mike Skinner reconvenes The Streets, playing the Academy in Glasgow (20 April), Tears for Fears rule the world across two dates at the Armadillo, The Fratellis return with In Your Own Sweet Time and Manic Street Preachers deliver more “widescreen melancholia” with Resistance is Futile.

Fellow One Directioners Niall Horan and Harry Styles duke it out for solo supremacy with individual dates around the SEC campus, while pop kids of the 80s can squeal for the return of the ever-game Kim Wilde with a new album, Here Come the Aliens, and accompanying tour in April.

But we’re holding out for the new album by the magnificent Young Fathers, which may or may not accompany their sold out date at Barrowland on 24 March.


Tis the season of the outdoor gig, kicking off with New York electro pop favourites LCD Soundsystem at Glasgow’s newest al fresco space, the SWG3 Galvanizers Yard (27 May). Ed Sheeran continues his world domination with a trio of stadium gigs at Hampden Park (1-3 June) and the TRNSMIT festival returns over two weekends on Glasgow Green with Liam Gallagher, Stereophonics and The Killers leading the charge.

If you’re looking for something slightly more boutique, Nile Rodgers & Chic return to Kelvingrove Bandstand for the

Fiesta x Fold Freak Out Let’s Dance party (30 June and 1 July) and 80s girl band Bananarama cement their successful reunion as the pick of the Edinburgh Castle Concerts (20 July).


2018 may be Scotland’s Year of Young People but so far it’s the veterans – from Cliff Richard via ELO, King Crimson, Level 42 and Christy Moore to Joan Armatrading – who have secured their pitches in the autumn gig schedules. The main dates to get in the diary are country diva Shania Twain’s two night stand at the Hydro (19 and 21 September) and a fond farewell from Four Seasons frontman Frankie Valli (29 November).

Somewhere along the trail between now and 2019, new albums are also anticipated from Arctic Monkeys, Muse, Kylie and Jack White – the latter has described what may or may not be titled Boarding House Reach as “good gardening music or roofing music or, you know, back-alley stabbing music. I’m trying to think of some good activities that people haven’t written songs for yet.”

And don’t hold your breath, but My Bloody Valentine say they have 40 minutes of new music which is “not so much about death and change as freedom of the soul”.