Pop, rock, rap, dance and more
Once a mysterious unit who would impishly wrongfoot journalists and listeners as to their identity, the US punk collective have pulled back the curtain – they’re masterminded by ad creative Tony Wolski – in time to reveal their biggest and best album: Perfect Saviours, in which their chaos is corralled just enough to cohere into pop songs.
Released 25 August
The rune-masked British band – frontman Vessel, and sidemen II, III and IV – have become a huge sensation in metal not just for their arresting folk-horror image: their soaring, epic sound touches on trap, prog and a kind of boyband earnestness. Active since 2016, arena status has finally been bestowed.
Reading and Leeds festivals, 25-27 August; Wembley Arena, 16 December
At 81, Nash is still releasing new material – his album from earlier this year, Now, was variously strident and soothing – but he, of course, has a vast library of songs from his time with the Hollies and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Songs by the latter make up the bulk of his current touring set, plus covers including the Beatles’ A Day in the Life and Only Love Can Break Your Heart by former sparring partner Neil Young.
12-date UK tour begins at The Anvil, Basingstoke, 29 August
Seven years on from his debut EP, the Birmingham rapper is finally releasing his debut album Redemption, a “journey through grief, fatherhood, fame and much more”. He’s already well suited to such mood shifts, with recent years offsetting emotionally fraught tracks such as Cemetery Walks with equally strong Top 10 pop-rap hits like So High.
Released September, six-date UK tour begins 24 October
K-pop tours often put western stars to shame with their high production values, audacious choreography and general stamina – and this nine-member girl group have eight years of back catalogue to draw on, culminating with this year’s brisk and buoyant Ready To Be mini-album. Other Korean girl groups hitting the UK this season include (G)I-DLE (Wembley Arena, 9 Sep) and Aespa (O2 Arena, 28 Sep).
O2 Arena, London, 7 and 8 September
The busiest spell for a while for the enduring rave duo: there is a new album, For That Beautiful Feeling, an accompanying arena tour, and also a career-spanning coffee-table book, Paused in Cosmic Reflection, that includes chats with collaborators such as Noel Gallagher, Beth Orton and Beck.
For That Beautiful Feeling released 8 September; Paused in Cosmic Reflection published 26 October; arena tour begins 26 October
Once a mostly unknown Disney actor, Rodrigo stormed into pop’s big leagues with her 2021 debut single Drivers License, which reminded everyone of the brutality of teenage jilt-hood – and then followed it with a remarkable album that won her three Grammys. The title of her new LP Guts suggests more spleen-venting and brave candour, and lead single Vampire inched up the quality bar.
Released 8 September
Murphy’s forthcoming Hit Parade could very well be the best album of the year. Produced entirely by DJ Koze, it fairly explodes with brilliant ideas: Rhythm & Sound-type dub techno paired with soul balladry (You Knew), disco-funk inspired by JG Ballard (The House), sample-driven summery hip-hop (Fader) and so much more, all anchored by Murphy who sings like someone determined to meet your eye.
Released 8 September
The Warehouse Project
Back at Manchester’s Mayfield Depot, here’s another season at the coalface of dance culture. Highlights including Repercussion festival with Bicep unveiling their new AV DJ setup; two gigantic jungle and drum’n’bass events from promoters Worried About Henry; a Boiler Room with Overmono recording live; and a resurrection of the Hacienda with the era’s classic DJs plus Soul II Soul, A Certain Ratio, Inner City and tinfoil-hatted Covid anti-vaxxer Ian Brown.
Begins 15 September
Bring Me the Horizon
Often ignored by “serious” music fans, the Sheffield rockers are the best British band working today, and the second part of their apocalypse-themed Post Human series – this one a full album, titled Next Gen – includes a series of astonishing singles: Die4U, Strangers and Lost all have fiendishly complex sound design inside their perfect pop structures.
Released 15 September
Having built a formidable rep with dub techno and off-kilter pop, the US musician’s Atlas is one of the most profoundly beautiful albums of 2023 and an example of ambient done right: not merely pretty or melting into the background. Instruments are smeared into banks of orchestral sound and placed into subtle jazz arrangements, with tiny nape-prickles of disquiet in the depths.
Released 22 September
Anticipation is now as high as it has ever been for a Kylie album following the meme-divining Padam Padam, a sexily nonsensical tech-house prowler that gave her a first Top 10 single since 2010. A collaboration with producer Oliver Heldens suggests it will be more contemporary than her recent run of nostalgic or Christmas albums – but there are plenty of credits for longtime songwriting foil Biff Stannard, who had a hand in classics such as In Your Eyes and Love at First Sight.
Released 22 September
A muse to Graham Nash’s bandmate Stephen Stills, Collins is another captivating and still-vital octogenarian voice from the 1960s singer-songwriter boom, whose catalogue of self-penned songs is joined by spellbinding covers: her versions of Mr Tambourine Man, Who Knows Where the Time Goes and Both Sides Now are still setlist mainstays.
Eight-date UK tour begins at Barbican, London, 28 September
Currently deep in a creative splurge, the Puerto Rican vocalist’s romantic relationship with Spanish pop auteur Rosalía has yielded plenty of tabloid chatter but their musical relationship produced the much more edifying RR EP, followed up by Playa Saturno, his second LP of the year that encompasses every mode of reggaeton from raw and raunchy to barely-there delicacy.
Wembley Arena, 1 October
Blessed with arguably the most characterful voice in R&B today, Toliver’s soaring, fogged-nose croon has beautified songs such as Internet Money’s Lemonade, SZA’s Used, Kanye West’s Moon, and Fantasy, his duet this year with girlfriend and fellow genre superstar Kali Uchis. There is plenty more on recent album Love Sick to draw from, for what will be his biggest UK tour yet.
Five-date UK tour begins at Bristol Academy, 6 October
A sound that hasn’t really been around in pop for a while – the high-heeled strut of funky house – returned in sensational fashion this summer with Jorja Smith’s Little Things and Troye Sivan’s Rush, the latter helped along by an outrageously sexy video. Newly added to Sivan’s team for his third album, Something to Give Each Other, is Ian Kirkpatrick who produced Dua Lipa’s smashes New Rules and Don’t Start Now, so further uptempo bops will be forthcoming.
Released 13 October
Pop’s greatest icon had an almighty scare this summer when she was hospitalised with a serious bacterial infection – it knocked her US tour dates to next year, but her UK ones are going ahead as planned. Her previous tour was intimate and theatrical but this one, entitled Celebration, will revert back to blockbusting hit deployment and epic production values.
Six dates at London’s O2 Arena begin 14 October
The first arena tour for Britain’s best rapper, whose album Beautiful and Brutal Yard (up for the Mercury prize on 7 September) is another demonstration of his flexibility, inimitable delivery and quite indefatigable horn. Already spry on record, his catalogue really suits being given muscularity by a live band.
Six-date UK and Ireland tour begins 28 October
Having been unsure of her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Parton decided to firmly establish her credentials and make her first rock album – and it is a 30-track epic with an astonishing guest cast including Elton John, Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry and a version of Let It Be with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Mick Fleetwood and Peter Frampton.
Released 17 November
Taking place at the vast Drumsheds space that has taken over Tottenham’s defunct Ikea – we’re praying they kept the meatball-dispensing cafe for mid-sesh sustenance – this is the highlight of the venue’s first season: a convening of major names from amapiano, the sensually midtempo South African dance style.
19 November, Drumsheds, London
Jazz and global
Chicago-based jazz trumpeter and composer Branch died suddenly in August 2022, leaving behind a discography of fierce improvisations and a singular, piercing instrumental sound. Her last album with her Fly or Die band – entitled Fly or Die Fly or Die Fly or Die ((world war)) – is now being released and is a testament to her dynamic mastery and storytelling scope. The final cry of a formidable talent.
Released 25 August
30 years into his career, saxophonist Redman moves to seminal New York jazz label Blue Note. Side-stepping his quartet’s typically hard-swinging, rhythmically charged work, Where Are We is a melodic beauty and plays out as his first vocal album: Redman combines lyrical tenor lines with the soaring voice of Gabrielle Cavassa.
Released 15 September
The first of a four-volume retrospective, Inventor is a lively and comprehensive showcase of Angolan dancer and producer DJ Znobia’s kuduro music, which he has developed since the late 90s. Combining punchy drum programming with sharp synth melodies, Znobia’s infectious productions have even featured the likes of MIA.
Released 22 September
In 1969, after his arrest by the Brazilian military government, Tropicália pioneer Gilberto Gil fled to London and began what would become a lifelong association with the city. This Royal Albert Hall concert is billed as his last ever in the capital, celebrating a career of uplifting music that has spanned more than 50 years.
London jazz festival
Another bumper edition of the 10-day long festival of improvisation, featuring elders such as bassist Ron Carter and Ethio-jazz vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke, as well as an impressive crop of American experimentalists, from drummers Makaya McCraven and Tyshawn Sorey to saxophonists James Brandon Lewis and Ravi Coltrane.
Productions of Wagner’s Ring are the biggest investments any opera houses can make, and a new cycle is always a special event. Barrie Kosky is the director of the Royal Opera’s new staging, which will be conducted by its departing music director, Antonio Pappano. The cast for the first instalment is headed by Christopher Maltman as Wotan and Christopher Purves as Alberich; Sean Pannikkar is Loge and Marina Prudenskaya Fricka.
Royal Opera House, London, 11-29 September
Picture a Day Like This
Two months after its world premiere at the Aix-en-Provence festival, George Benjamin’s fourth opera receives its UK premiere. Like its predecessors, Picture a Day Like This has a libretto by Martin Crimp; it’s the story of a woman’s search to find a truly happy human being, a miracle which will bring her dead child back to life. Ema Nikolovska is the woman, and Corinna Niemeyer conducts the Aix staging, which was directed by Daniel Jeanneteau and Marie-Christine Soma.
Linbury theatre, London, 22 September-10 October
Masque of Might
Opera North’s Green Season is made up of productions that are built from repurposed sets and costumes, and its centrepiece is the premiere of an opera assembled from repurposed music. Devised by director David Pountney and conducted by Harry Bicket, Masque of Might uses Henry Purcell’s music to create an “eco-entertainment”, which combines song, dance and dramatic spectacle.
Grand theatre, Leeds, 14, 21, 27 October, then touring to 16 November
Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard and the London Sinfonietta join a day of events marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the 20th century’s great composers. Aimard gives a recital of György Ligeti’s keyboard pieces, and later is the soloist in his piano concerto as part of a concert that also includes Ligeti’s cello concerto, a selection of chamber works, and music by his most famous pupil, Unsuk Chin.
Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, 14 October
Adès conducts …
Thomas Adès begins his two-year residency with the Hallé Orchestra by conducting a programme that includes two UK premieres of his music. Tower for Frank Gehry is a fanfare for 14 trumpets, while Purgatorio is an extract from his ballet The Dante Project; the concert also includes Adès’ Märchentänze, Janáček’s Sinfonietta and the world premiere of William Marsey’s Man with Limp Wrist.
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 26 October
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales begins its season-long series focusing on female composers and emerging Welsh talent with music from three generations. Emilie Godden opens the programme conducting the world premiere of Sarah Lianne Lewis’s The Sky Didn’t Fall, before Martyn Brabbins takes over for a suite from Kaija Saariaho’s monodrama Emilie, and the rarely heard Second Symphony by Grace Williams.
Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, 2 November
7 Deaths of Maria Callas
To mark the centenary of Maria Callas’s birth, English National Opera brings Marina Abramović’s 2020 “opera project” to the UK for the first time. Arias that are sung by seven doomed operatic characters provide the live accompaniment to films featuring Abramović and Willem Dafoe, before the great singer herself, personified by Abramović, takes centre stage for her own death scene.
Coliseum, London, 3-11 November
Conquest of the Useless
The BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra gives the UK premiere of David Fennessy’s three-part epic, based upon Werner Herzog’s chronicle of his struggles to film his masterpiece Fitzcarraldo in Amazonia. Fennessy depicts Herzog’s vision of a steamship rising through the jungle, creates a four-part choir using samples of Enrico Caruso’s voice, and ends with what he describes as “Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde put through a blender”.
City Halls, Glasgow, 4 November
Jennifer Walshe in Huddersfield
Though details of this year’s Huddersfield contemporary music festival have yet to be revealed, it has already been announced that Jennifer Walshe will be the composer-in-residence. The festival will open with Personhood, Walshe’s exploration of what it means to be constantly under surveillance from the devices we now take for granted, and also includes the first live performance of Ireland: A Dataset, her examination of Irish identity.
Various venues, Huddersfield, 17-26 November