2022 Arts Preview: The Year Ahead in Pop

Whether you want to party beside a castle, in the grounds of a museum or in a big blue tent, there’s something for you in 2022, writes Fiona Shepherd

Madness, Fatboy Slim, Snow Patrol and Biffy Clyro will be playing 8,000 capacity shows in The Big Top venue at the Royal Highland Centre in June.
Madness, Fatboy Slim, Snow Patrol and Biffy Clyro will be playing 8,000 capacity shows in The Big Top venue at the Royal Highland Centre in June.

It is no accident that the tail end of 2021 was marked by multiple announcements of music festivals, new and returning, with the gift of live music sometime in 2022 a popular offering this Yuletide. Expect the fruits of pandemic productivity to be reflected in this year’s album releases too – US alt rockers Weezer have produced enough material for four distinct albums, each to be released at the start of the season it is named after: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. Sounds like a handy device for previewing the rock and pop year….

Winter If pandemic conditions allow, Celtic Connections hopes to return as a live, in-person event, including celebrations of the songs of Nanci Griffith and the tenth birthday of the Roaming Roots Revue, as does the Big Burns Supper in Dumfries, with Eddi Reader helming the main Burns Night bash.

The Hebridean Dark Skies Festival returns for a fourth edition on the Isle of Lewis (11-25 February), with live music coming from Rachel Sermanni and local composer Peter Urpeth.

Dolly Parton turned 75 on Tuesday, January 19.

Sermanni also appears as a guest, alongside Kris Drever and poet Salena Godden, when James Yorkston takes his Tae Sup Wi’ a Fifer series on tour to Inverness, Shetland, St Andrews and Peebles in early February.

Spring Having encouraged generations of children to read with her Imagination Library programme, Dolly Parton has written her first novel, Run Rose Run, with a little help from best-selling author James Patterson, and produced an accompanying album of 12 songs for release in early March.


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Jack White breaks a silence of over four years with two albums, Fear of the Dawn and Entering Heaven Alive, “each defined by different inspirations, different themes and different moods”. However, the pale blue/black colour scheme prevails, with White sporting a dashing blue quiff in press shots.

A veritable spring fling of live music awaits, with highlights including veteran songsmith Randy Newman (Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 20 March), rapper Stormzy (Hydro, 4 April) and elusive goths Dead Can Dance (Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 7 April). Stetsons at the ready for the Country to Country festival, headlined by US singers Luke Combs, Miranda Lambert and Darius Rucker (Hydro, Glasgow, 11-13 March), while the sound and visual art installations of Sonica (10-20 March) cater for more esoteric tastes.

However, the biggest attraction of the season is the semi-live return of ABBA. From 27 May to early October, their Voyage show takes up residency in a purpose-built venue in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, featuring the four original band members motion captured in ABBAtar form, plus live backing band.

Summer A bumper summer festival calendar kicks off with the Riverside Festival of electronic dance music in the grounds of Glasgow’s Riverside Museum (2-4 June), swiftly followed by a trio of new arrivals.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds headline the newly minted Dundee Summer Sessions at Slessor Gardens on 11 June, Madness, Fatboy Slim, Snow Patrol and Biffy Clyro headline gigs throughout June in the new pop-up Big Top at the Royal Highland Centre, Ingliston, while the Colourboxx festival in Glasgow’s Bellahouston Park (25 June) aims to have “inclusion at its core” – in other words, a proactive counter to the male-dominated line-ups of the major commercial festivals with headliners including Becky Hill, Rina Sawayama and Sugababes.

Scotland’s biggest outdoor music fest TRNSMT returns to its traditional mid-summer slot (8-10 July) on Glasgow Green, with Lewis Capaldi making good on his commitment to headline after being forced to cancel last year’s appearance. Paolo Nutini’s Friday headline has only fuelled speculation that a new Nutini album is on the way, his first since the sublime Caustic Love in 2014.


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Primal Scream return to their old Glasgow southside stomping ground with two dates in Queen’s Park (1 & 2 July), Green Day (29 June) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (1 July) rock Bellahouston Park, Guns N’ Roses take on Glasgow Green (5 July), while Summer Nights at the Kelvingrove Bandstand and Edinburgh Summer Sessions both re-emerge from furlough in August.

The beloved Rewind festival returns to Scone Palace from 22-24 July, and Belladrum Tartan Heart resumes the following weekend. Dalkeith Country Park hosts two separate events – Let’s Rock, for all your nostalgia needs, on 18 June and the marginally more contemporary sounds of Out East on 6 & 7 Aug. There are also plans afoot to resurrect the boutique Connect festival from 26-28 August, with location still to be announced.

The Eagles land in Murrayfield on 22 June, and Gerry Cinnamon finally gets to headline Hampden Park on 16 & 17 July while other Hampden attractions include Ed Sheeran (16 & 17 June), Liam Gallagher (26 June) and Coldplay (23 & 24 August).

But if you really must see a gig at a castle next summer, choose between Michael Buble (4 July) and Tears for Fears (8 July) at Floors Castle in Kelso, or Olly Murs (8 July), Deacon Blue (9 July) and The Script (16 July) on the Edinburgh Castle esplanade.

Autumn Autumn, therefore, is for lying down in a darkened room with pledged new albums by Arctic Monkeys, Beyonce, Morrissey, Rihanna, The Cure, MIA, The Weeknd and Janet Jackson.

Or maybe not if you are a fan of Rod Stewart, The Proclaimers, The Cure, Dexys formerly Midnight Runners or cult US alt.rockers Pavement, all of whom feature on the gig calendar as the nights draw in again.


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