Gorillaz at Malahide Castle, Taylor Swift at Croke Park: this week’s best rock and pop gigs

Also: Liam Gallagher, The National, A-Ha, Haim, Giant Sand, Vancouver Sleep Clinic

Malahide Castle, Co Dublin Saturday June 9th 4.30pm €69.50 ticketmaster.ie
Oh, for the love of Thor – 20 years?! Yes, believe it or not, Gorillaz – the once "virtual" band featuring mainstays Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett – was formed in 1998 after the pair began to realise that MTV needed an injection of substance. Initially a "cartoon" band (think The Archies with a preference for post-modernist takes on everything from art-pop and trip-hop to dub and hip-hop), the group gradually dispensed with concealing backdrops to form a rugged but always deliciously groove-oriented sound. Gorillaz will be performing several tracks from their forthcoming album, The Now Now (out June 29th), as well as combing through their admired back catalogue for hit songs and tunes. Special guests include De La Soul, Little Simz and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble. TCL

Giant Sand
Whelan's, Dublin Saturday June 9th 8pm €25 whelanslive.com
Once in blue, blue moon along comes a music maverick of almost mythic proportions, a figure of mystery, imagination and downright oddness that it's a wonder they still have an audience. And yet Howe Gelb and his band of over three decades, Giant Sand, most certainly has. It's a niche audience, for sure, but through the years Gelb has managed to make ends meet via a forceful personality and an experimental approach to Americana music. The end result is probably as visionary an outlook to music as you can get these days. Expect a special guest or two. TCL

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble present: Official Malahide Castle Afterparty
The Sugar Club, Dublin Saturday June 9th €10/€15 thesugarclub.com
If you've still got the energy and the desire to make it from Co Dublin to Dublin 2 after the Gorillaz gig, then the official afterparty is calling for you. With music from Ajo Árkestra, a multicultural group of musicians who dabble in afrobeat, funk, hip-hop and soul, and ChoiceCuts' DJ Scope, you'll be set for the night. Gorillaz ticket holders will be charged €10 and it's €15 for everyone else. LB

Rolo Tomassi
Empire Music Hall, Belfast Sunday June 10th £14 ticketmaster.ie
Sheffield's Rolo Tomassi are in the throes of a tour supporting the release of their fifth album, Time Will Die and Love Will Bury It, and with a steady mix of pop, shoegaze, punk and the occasional metal throwdown, all driven by Eva Spence's acrobatic vocals. Support on the night will come from the hardcore group Hornets and Belfast's No Great Loss.  Pack the earplugs and wear some breathable clothing. It's gonna be very loud and very, very warm. LB


Nighthawks at the Cobalt
Cobalt Cafe, 16 North Great George's Street, Dublin Sunday June 10th 7.45pm €15 eventbrite.ie
The good people behind Nighthawks at the Cobalt say they usually take the summer months off, yet here they are with yet another humdinger of a line-up. Featuring music (including Fiach Moriarty, and the debut Dublin appearance of the wonderful Sons of Southern Ulster), comedy (smarty-pants Kevin Gildea) and poetry (the must-see/hear Abby Oliveira), the evening is shamelessly, culturally rich. Because of the talent on display at such evenings, the shows always sell out, so make sure to nab a ticket as soon as you read this. TCL

Olympia Theatre, Dublin Tuesday June 12th & Wednesday June 13th 7pm €48.90 (sold out) ticketmaster.ie
San Fernando Valley sisters Este, Danielle and Alana Haim have been a going concern as a group for over six years, but before you think that's the beginning and end of it, be aware that before they formed as full-time unit and became Spotify darlings, they spent about five years busting a collective gut trying to get their music heard. It helped when Danielle put in time on the road as a guitarist with Jenny Lewis, Cee-Lo Green and Julian Casablancas, and plans finally fell into place when they were signed by Polydor UK following a series of gigs at South by South West. From then to now, Haim's Venn Diagram blend of R&B and soft rock has been a winner, as these two shows effortlessly prove. TCL

Live at the Marquee, Cork, Tuesday June 12th €54.65 (sold out) ticketmaster.ie
There have been two official break-ups of A-ha since they formed in Norway in 1982. The first was in 1994, and the second (after they got back in 1998) was in 2010. From 2015, however, Morten Harket, Magne Furuholmen and Paul Waaktaar-Savoy have kept it together tight enough to release an album (2015's Cast in Steel) and to embark on a series of very high profile gigs – of which this show is one. TCL

Vancouver Sleep Clinic
Whelan's, Dublin Tuesday June 12th €17.35 ticketmaster.ie
If you ever have any trouble with opening up the emotional floodgates, then the gentle and heartfelt musings of Vancouver Sleep Clinic might be for you. They're fronted by Australian singer and songwriter Tim Bettinson, and their music isn't far off the mark from our very own James Vincent McMorrow or James Blake. It's all about the ambience with that lot, and Bettinson has it down to a tee. Tip into his debut album Revival and if the floodgates open, let them pour. LB

Taylor Swift
Croke Park, Dublin Friday June 15th & Saturday June 16th 5pm €144/€114/€104/€74.50 ticketmaster.ie
She may have got into a puddle of warm water over not being 100 per cent certain that Dublin was, in fact, part of Ireland and not the UK, but Taylor Swift was soon forgiven by her fans because, well, everyone loves her. (And besides, we all make mistakes, don't we?) You would wonder, though, if any of her current fanbase remember when Swift was a country singer. We doubt it, but what connects her early albums (specifically 2008's Fearless and 2010's Speak Now) to the likes of Red (2012), 1989 (2014) and last year's Reputation are clever storytelling sensibilities. The music may have radically changed, but Taylor is still Taylor. We like that. Special guests include Charli XCX and Camila Cabello. TCL

The National
Energia Park, Donnybrook, Dublin Friday June 15 & Saturday June 16th €136/€76 ticketmaster.ie (sold out)
The renamed Energia Park (from Donnybrook Stadium) is tested with a gig that features headline performances from one of the tightest and most intense rock bands of recent times. Seriously, there are very few acts that can match, let alone beat The National for control of dynamics and rhythmic push/pull. Friday night's special guests include John Grant, Lisa Hannigan, Jay Som and Preoccupations. Special guests on Saturday June 16th include Villagers, Cate Le Bon, Rostam and Dream Wife. In a week of strong gigs, this might just be the best of the bunch. TCL

Connolly's of Leap, Cork Friday June 15th €20 connollysofleap.com
To celebrate the re-release of Kíla's 1997 album Tóg é Go Bog é, they'll be taking the album out for a good airing, starting off in Connolly's of Leap. Using traditional Irish music as their roots, the original eight members draw on world music to create a frenzied ceilí-rave, showing off their multi-instrumental skills and pushing fun to the frontline. If you somehow haven't seen them perform live in your lifetime, you should probably get mildly acquainted. LB

Irish Maritime Festival
The Earl of Pembroke, Deepwater Quay, Drogheda Port, Co Louth, Friday June 15th & Saturday June 16th 7.30pm €23 droichead.com
The Irish Maritime Festival has found a suitable home at Drogheda Port, Co Louth, and one of the most successful events during the festival is its Stowaway Sessions gigs, which are held, no less, on the Earl of Pembroke, a wooden, three-masted barque. Friday night's gig features the Lost Brothers duo (Oisín Leech and Mark McCausland), with support from highly promising singer-songwriter Eve Belle. Sunday's gig on the rig features Declan O'Rourke, who will present his song cycle and most recent album Chronicles of the Great Irish Famine, as well as several of his best-known songs. TCL

Liam Gallagher
Malahide Castle, Co Dublin Friday, June 15th 7.30pm €49.90 (sold out) ticketmaster.ie
I agree with Liam Gallagher, frankly, whenever I hear words such as "you gotta roll with it, you gotta take your time, you gotta say what you say, don't let anybody get in your way", but as the grounds of Malahide Castle will be stuffed to the gills for this sold-out show then you'll really have to let people pass by and around you as politely as possible. This is Gallagher's third time in Ireland in less than a year (sold-out shows at Dublin's Olympia Theatre, and then at Weston Airport), so we know what to expect: quite a few boisterous pop/rock songs from the Oasis back catalogue, and some of the more swaggering tracks off last year's solo debut album, As You Were. Special guests include former Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft, and the soon-to-be very well-known Liverpool singer Louis Berry. TCL

Homebeat presents: Let's Set Sail & Carriages
Upstairs in Whelan's, Dublin Friday June 15th €7.50 online/€10 on door homebeat.ie
As the Homebeat crew are busy prepping for Another Love Story, their festival with Happenings, this August, they have very kindly taken the time to put on gigs in the build-up. Homebeat shines a light on some very deserving Irish acts while building up a community of music lovers; the focus this time is on the soothing folk act Let's Set Sail and the warm electronics from Carriages. LB

District 8, Dublin Friday June 15th €16.64-€22.18 district8dublin.com
If you're  a lover of  all genres of music, here's a bit of a wild suggestion. Take one Taylor Swift gig for the first part of your Friday night and, when you're finished in Croker and ready to dance, add Tiga as the entertainment for the second half. With his dizzying and throbbing electronic music, the Canadian DJ finds a way to take over your body and enter your soul. That's not an exaggeration. One listen to Bugatti and you'll understand. LB