2019: The Year Ahead in Pop

Geri Horner, Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton and Melanie Brown: the Spice Girls will kick off a six-date UK stadium tour in June as a four-piece, without Victoria Beckham.
Geri Horner, Melanie Chisholm, Emma Bunton and Melanie Brown: the Spice Girls will kick off a six-date UK stadium tour in June as a four-piece, without Victoria Beckham.
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Veteran acts from The Specials to the Spice Girls are making comebacks in 2019, writes Fiona Shepherd

Cast off the post-festive fug, donate those unwanted Christmas CDs to your local charity outlet and gird your loins for another year of top pop activity across Scotland and the wider musical universe, handily laid out in seasonal chunks as follows:

Winter

January is no longer a musical wilderness. Both The Twilight Sad and Steve Mason jump off the blocks with new albums, Massive Attack present an early bid for gig of the year at the Hydro on the 28th, and Celtic Connections shares its 25th birthday with events for two of the most stylish and committed independent record labels, Glasgow’s Creeping Bent (1 February) and Hamburg’s Marina Records (18 January).

Pending any announcement of an official David Bowie Day, a group of his former bandmates, including pianist Mike Garson, guitarist Earl Slick and bassist Carmine Rojas, present A Bowie Celebration on the third anniversary of his death (Glasgow, 10 January), while drummer Woody Woodmansey and producer Tony Visconti celebrate the Spiders from Mars era with their band Holy Holy (Glasgow, 10 February). Look out also for a similarly conceived tribute to George Michael from his sidemen in late April/early May.

There are a number of tasty touring team-ups at the Hydro throughout February, including Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest (7 February), Tears for Fears and Alison Moyet (11 February), and Steely Dan and Steve Winwood (20 February). Joan Baez has happily decided to postpone her retirement with an extended farewell tour which returns to Glasgow on 26 February, and there are cult manoeuvres from legendary Louisiana anonymous art rockers The Residents (6 February) and Lene Lucky Number Lovich (9 March).

The Specials release Encore, their first new album in 37 years on 1 February; a week later, Mercury Rev release their “re-imagining” of Bobbie Gentry’s The Delta Sweete with guest vocals from the likes of Norah Jones, Hope Sandoval, Lucinda Williams and actress Carice Van Houten.

Jon Fratelli has re-recorded his second solo album, Bright Night Flowers, which will finally be released in mid-February, while hyper synth pop trio Bis celebrate the release of their fifth album, Slight Disconnects, with a trio of intimate gigs in their native Glasgow (15-17 February).

Spring

Lana Del Rey admits she has lightened up a bit for her forthcoming album, titled Norman F***ing Rockwell – though ten-minute taster single Venice Bitch suggests otherwise. The Flaming Lips stay reliably loopy with a new album for Record Store Day (13 April). According to frontman Wayne Coyne, The King’s Mouth is narrated by Mick Jones of The Clash, and named after a typically trippy son et lumiere installation Coyne created for Pacific Northwest College of Art.

Dido also returns with a new album, Still On My Mind, and her first tour in 15 years. Just be careful not to take a wrong turn and end up in Youtuber Dodie’s sold out Barrowland show (Glasgow, 15 March) instead.

Nicki Minaj and Shakin’ Stevens play Glasgow on 17 March. Just not together. Take That hunker down at the Hydro for three nights (18-20 April) on their Greatest Hits tour and Rufus Wainwright revisits the early innocent years on his All These Poses tour (25 April). But pick of the season has to be legendary electro pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder who, aged 78, embarks on his first ever tour with a live band, calling in at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall on 4 April.

Summer

’Tis the season for massive outdoor gigs in unpredictable weather conditions. It will be hard to beat 2018’s bumper crop of al fresco happenings but The Gathering gets in early with the likes of Elephant Sessions, Vatersay Boys and Siobhan Millar lined up for its debut outing in Inverness city centre on 1 June.

There is a vintage girl power flavour to some of the summer’s biggest shows, as The Spice Girls’ latest comeback is scheduled to reach Murrayfield on 8 June, all-rounder P!nk confidently takes on two nights at Hampden Park (22 &23 June) and Kylie brings her sublime Golden tour to Edinburgh Castle (14 & 15 July).

The TRNSMT festival returns to Glasgow Green (12-14 July) and there are three weeks of Summer Nights gigs in August at the Kelvingrove Bandstand. Both line-ups are still to be announced, and will have to deliver some big hitters to match the Summer Sessions bill at Bellahouston Park, not least The Cure’s first visit to Scotland in 27 years on 16 August, supported by ardent fans Mogwai and The Twilight Sad.

Autumn

Elton John’s farewell tour doesn’t arrive in Scotland until autumn 2020; fortunately, there’s an eclectic array of arena shows still to come this year, not least Cher’s tribute to the Abba catalogue, inspired by her turn in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (Hydro, 28 October). A-ha take on their debut album Hunting High and Low (Armadillo, 1 November) which, like the band themselves, has aged gracefully, and The Chemical Brothers bring the block rocking beats to satisfy demand for 90s rave nostalgia (Hydro, 23 November). Ariana Grande also plays the Hydro on 17 September, as does Rod Stewart on 28 and 30 November. And as the year draws to a close, Adele, Coldplay, Madonna and The Raconteurs may well have delivered the new albums they are working on. If not, there’s always the latest batch of Christmas re-issues to keep you warm in the meantime.