By Craig Mathieson
It’s a simple equation: warm weather equals hot gigs. Having endured the pandemic’s lockdown era, live music is back in a big way, culturally and economically, as the summer looms. International artists are once again adding Australia to their touring schedules, with refresh buttons getting battered as fans chase the best tickets. Whether you want sublime melodies, pop fervour, or historic highs, here are 15 of the best upcoming tours – please choose wisely.
Clockwise from left: Dua Lipa, Crowded House and Kevin Parker from Tame Impala.
TAME IMPALA Meticulously sculpted by Perth pop polymath Kevin Parker, Tame Impala’s The Slow Rush was a lockdown soundtrack for many with its gilded resignation and breaking dawn disco grooves. With The Wiggles already covering their track Elephant, the time is right for the band to return in celebratory mode as they share a catalogue now four acclaimed albums deep in their biggest headline shows to date. October 20, Qudos Bank Arena, Olympic Park, Homebush; October 22-23, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne; tameimpala.com
DUA LIPA The true successor to Kylie Minogue, the English pop star has reached the superstar tier with her second album, 2020’s Future Nostalgia. Equal parts melancholy and marvellous, her disco dioramas have been the springboard for everything from a sold-out world tour and chart-topping collaborations to a prolific Instagram feed and genuine social activism. Expect a defiant chorus of voices when she drops New Rules into her set. November 8-9, Qudos Bank Arena, Olympic Park, Homebush; October 30, Palais Theatre, St Kilda; November 11-12, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne; dualipa.com
CROWDED HOUSE At this point Neil Finn is that rare thing: a songwriting deity still at the top of his game on stage after a mere 45 years of high-profile performing. New Zealand’s national treasure (sorry Russell Crowe) remains an eclectic artist, but Crowded House – with his sons Liam and Elroy alongside ever-present bassist Nick Seymour – are the essential element. November 8, WIN Entertainment Centre, Wollongong; November 9, Aware Super Theatre, Sydney; November 12, Bimbadgen Winery, Pokolbin; November 13, Gateway Lakes, Wodonga; November 19, Mount Duneed Estate, Geelong; November 22, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne; crowdedhouse.com
Clockwise from left: Flume, Justin Bieber and Kendrick Lamar.
FLUME This is where you find those fantastic beats. One-time studio boy wonder Harley Streten is 30 years old now (they grow up so quickly!) and more likely to be found on the NSW north coast than Los Angeles, but he remains an intuitive antenna for electronic music’s constant evolution. The third Flume album, this year’s Palaces, has a counter-intuitive assurance, with songs that should prove irresistible when pumped out of a souped-up sound system. November 18, The Dome, Sydney Showgrounds, Olympic Park; November 22, John Cain Arena, Melbourne; flumemusic.com
JUSTIN BIEBER The many phases of Justin Bieber’s profile – tween dream, bad boy, happily married dude – have fed into a career that’s expertly traversed pop music and R&B with a plethora of collaborations that helped stretch the parameters of chart success. On 2021’s Justice, he stepped back into pop’s mainstream, sounding better than ever, vocally and emotionally, after a reckoning with his troubled years. And while he has cancelled other dates on his world tour due to health reasons, the Australian dates are still scheduled to go ahead. This may well be an ascendant return. November 29-30, Allianz Stadium, Moore Park; November 26, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne; justinbiebermusic.com
KENDRICK LAMAR There’s no greater weight in popular music than being at the summit of hip-hop; there’s no other artist who handles it like Kendrick Lamar. Australia gets the magisterial Los Angeles rapper fresh from the May release of his fifth studio album, Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers, a complicated record of self-evaluation and striking rhythms. Just the signature hits alone from Lamar’s run of albums guarantee a memorable evening. December 8-9, Qudos Bank Arena, Olympic Park; December 4-5, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne; oklama.com
Clockwise from left: Dry Cleaning, The Killers and Nick Cave and Warren Ellis.
DRY CLEANING This South London quartet are difficult to explain but impossible to forget. Vocalist Florence Shaw speaks instead of singing, delivering social critiques shot through with bitter perception and agonising humour above a skittering, tense post-punk thump. “I’ve come to smash what you made,” Shaw calmly declares on their breakthrough single Scratchcard Lanyard, which is roughly analogous to how the group treat rock music’s conventions. December 12-13, Corner Hotel, Richmond; December 14, Manning Bar, University of Sydney, Camperdown; drycleaningband.com
NICK CAVE & WARREN ELLIS There are seemingly few musical boundaries for Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, the expatriate Australian duo who’ve outgrown the former’s perennial band the Bad Seeds to create songs, suites, scores, and something more. This tour brings to the stage their 2021 album, Carnage, a cinematic opus rifled through with Cave’s biblical fury and bleak metaphorical wit. It should be an experience. December 16-18, Sydney Opera House; November 25-26, Hanging Rock, Macedon Ranges; December 2, Palais Theatre, St Kilda; nickcave.com
THE KILLERS A simple safety rule: don’t get between the stage and the audience when the Killers perform Mr. Brightside. The Las Vegas outfit’s 2003 debut single is quite possibly the defining rock song of the 21st century. It puts an electric current through a crowd. Brandon Flowers and co have turned out two contrasting albums in quick succession – 2020’s engorged Imploding the Mirage and 2021’s contemplative Pressure Machine – so their live set should have a new dimension. December 19, Qudos Bank Arena, Olympic Park, Homebush; December 10, Mount Duneed Estate, Geelong; December 13-14, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne; thekillersmusic.com
Clockwise from left: Elton John, the Arctic Monkeys and Rina Sawayama.
RINA SAWAYAMA This is the tour you can boast about being at in five years’ time, when the Japanese-British singer-songwriter has fully crossed over into the mainstream. Right now, Sawayama is an unabridged, genre-smashing force – her just-released album, Hold the Girl, moves between dance-floor drive and European metal pomp, feminist anthems and crushing confessions. If you’re reminded of Lady Gaga’s early ambitions, you’re on the right path. January 12, The Roundhouse, University of NSW, Kensington; January 13, 170 Russell, Melbourne; rina.online
ARCTIC MONKEYS With their first album in four years, The Car, due out in two weeks, Arctic Monkeys continue their journey through alternative rock’s outer reaches, exploring swoony 1960s ballads after the sci-fi concept album that was Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. But chances are they still look good on the dance floor, with the British four-piece likely to make the most of their youthful exuberance under January’s soft dusk light. January 4-5, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne; January 14, The Domain, Sydney; arcticmonkeys.com
ELTON JOHN We should – for once – take him seriously. Elton John started his farewell world tour in 2018, and after a COVID gap of two years he’s now on track to wrack up more than 300 shows worldwide as one of popular music’s most iconic and enduring figures says goodbye to gigging. It’s over 50 years since Your Song was his first hit, so good luck figuring out what makes the cut in Elton’s live set. January 13-14, AAMI Park, Melbourne; January 18-17, Allianz Stadium, Moore Park; eltonjohn.com
Clockwise from left: Harry Styles, Sting and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS + POST MALONE Age shall not weary them. With Anthony Kiedis and sometimes Australian resident Flea out front, Red Hot Chili Peppers will mark the band’s 40th anniversary in 2023, with stadium dates to follow this year’s two albums, April’s Unlimited Love and October’s imminent Return of the Dream Canteen. To bridge the generation gap, they’re bringing along Post Malone, the Rockstar shape-shifter. That’s a package deal. February 2, Accor Stadium, Olympic Park, Homebush; February 7, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne; redhotchilipeppers.com
STING You may know him from season one of Murders in the Building, but Sting has enjoyed a vast – and occasionally excessive – run first fronting the Police and then as a solo artist. This is the “My Songs” tour, which means the highlights of his entire career are up for inclusion, with Every Breath You Take, Roxanne, Englishman in New York, Fields of Gold, and Demolition Man all featuring in his recent European shows. February 15, Aware Super Theatre, Sydney; February 18, Bimbadgen Winery, Pokolbin; February 23, Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne; February 25, Mount Duneed Estate, Geelong; sting.com
HARRY STYLES Hollywood is desperate to cast him in more movies, and every magazine editor dreams of bagging him for an internet-rattling cover shoot, but music remains the cornerstone of Harry Styles’ now abundant stardom. One Direction’s number one boy is in stadium mode now, and while this year’s Harry’s House studio album was his most introspective record yet, there’s no doubt he’s a born showman once the lights go down. March 3-4, Accor Stadium, Olympic Park, Homebush; February 24-25, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne; hstyles.co.uk
SUN’S OUT, LEGS OUT: FESTIVAL SEASON IS HERE
SUMMER CAMP LGBTQIA+ celebration headlined by Olly Alexander’s Years & Years and the Beyonce-sampled Big Freedia. November 5, Centennial Park, Glebe; November 12, Coburg Velodrome; summercampfestival.com.au
Vanfest See Hilltop Hoods, Tash Sultana and Tones & I. December 2-3, Mount Panorama, Bathurst, vanfest.com.au
Festival X Electronics, hip-hop, and dance collide with a sizable bill headlined by Calvin Harris, Megan Thee Stallion and rising Chicago star Don Toliver. December 3, Showgrounds, Olympic Park, Sydney; November 26, Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne; festivalx.com.au
Spilt Milk Go regional with Flume, Genesis Owusu, and King Stingray. December 3, Victoria Park, Ballarat, spilt-milk.com.au
Hardware Catch a heavyweight selection of DJs, including Richie Hawtin and Joseph Capriati. December 9, Hordern Pavilion, Moore Park; December 10, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne; hardwaregroup.com.au
Meredith The totemic Victorian music festival spotlights the likes of Caribou, Yothu Yindi and Courtney Barnett. December 9-11, Supernatural Amphitheatre, Meredith, mmf.com.au
Beyond the Valley Pitch a tent and watch headliners including Diplo, Nelly Furtado and Flight Facilities. December 28 to January 1, Barunah Park, beyondthevalley.com.au
Lost Paradise Camping season goes big with Lil Nas X and Arctic Monkeys from December 28 to January 1, Glenworth Valley, lostparadise.com.au
Falls Festival Due to a planning permit appeal, there’s a one-off new city home for the usually bucolic festival. December 29-31, Sidney Myer Music Bowl, Melbourne, fallsfestival.com
Falls Byron Headliners include Chvrches, Jami XX, Spacey Jane, plus the busy Lil Nas X and Arctic Monkeys. December 31 to January 2, North Byron Parklands, fallsfestival.com
Field Day Keep the NYE tempo up with Diplo, Benee, Tkay Maidza and Denzel Curry. Want to go extra large? A private cabana overlooking the main stage and holding 10 people costs $3062. January 1, The Domain, Sydney, fieldday.com.au
So Frenchy So Chic Where fine dining meets French musical talents such as Kalika, Rover and Suzane. January 15, Werribee Park; January 21, Centennial Park, Glebe; sofrenchysochic.com
Laneway Festival Summer’s last blast includes exclusive sets from headliners Haim and Joji, plus Phoebe Bridgers, Mallrat, the Beths and more. February 5, Showgrounds, Olympic Park, Sydney; February 11, The Park, Flemington; lanewayfestival.com
St Kilda Festival There’s no bill yet, but mark the date for the “sun’s out, guns out” action and traditionally eclectic line-up. February 18-19, St Kilda, stkildafestival.com.au
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