Sigrid, Paloma Faith, Bell X1, Joan Baez: this week’s rock and pop highlights

Sigrid, The Stunning, Kormac, Daithi, Bell XI, Paloma Faith and Joan Baez head the pop parade

The Stunning
Opera House, Cork Saturday March 17th 8pm €35
Theatre Royal, Waterford Sunday March 18th 8pm
Dolan's Warehouse, Limerick Thursday March 22nd & Friday March 23rd
8pm €30 (sold out)

It might be difficult for those pesky millennials to believe, but in their parents' day (1990-1995) The Stunning were one of Ireland's most popular bands: albums shifting over 100,000 copies (in Ireland alone), sell-out festival shows, support slot with Bob Dylan. It didn't last because record labels outside Ireland didn't understand what all the fuss was about. Ho-hum, indeed. Twenty-five or so years on, the band (steered then and now by brothers Joe and Steve Wall) make a return of sorts with a slew of major gigs and the re-release of their second album, Once Around The World (re-titled Twice Around The World due to it being re-recorded if not re-upholstered). Nostalgia alert? Of course, but there's life in the old dogs yet, as new songs on the album prove. Stunning once? Stunning second time around? Check out these gigs, parents of millennials, and find out.

Day to Night Paddy's Day with Boots & Kats
Electric Garden & Theatre, Galway Saturday March 17th €10
Kicking off at 2pm, this all-day party will have you fed, watered and dancin'. Dublin disco DJ duo Boots & Kats will be holding the fort on the main floor, along with Graham Doherty and Paul Belton, and regulars such as Shee and Dylan Thomas (from Origin Galway) will be tending to the Garden. For the day that's in it, this will be a good hub to indulge in or avoid the madness.

Good Name Paddy's Weekender
The Grand Social, Dublin Saturday March 17th & Sunday March 18th €8
For the sake of a good time, the good people of the Good Name collective are throwing a Paddy's Weekend takeover in The Grand Social, starting at 1pm on Saturday and 6pm on Sunday and running into the wee hours. You'll be spoiled for choice with music from Toby Kaar, Wastefellow, r.kitt, Percolator and the wizard that is Donal Dineen, who will be going back-to-back with Meltybrains' Ben for a DJ battle royale.


Steven Wilson
Mandela Hall, Belfast Saturday March 17th 7pm £33
Olympia Theatre, Dublin
Monday March 19th 8pm €34.50
When the CV of a musician includes working with King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Yes, Marillion, Opeth and Pendulum, you can take a shrewd guess that their area of expertise isn't hip-hop or pop music. Steve Wilson is best known as the founder of UK prog-rock band Porcupine Tree, but is currently undergoing an upswing in popularity as a solo artist. His latest (and fifth) solo album, To the Bone, was praised by Planet Rock magazine as a "progressive masterpiece". Maybe it's time to find out?

Bagots Hutton, Dublin Saturday March 17th €12/€15
To honour the big man Patrick himself, electronic fiddler extraordinaire Daithí will be putting on a full live show in Bagots Hutton, as well as having a delectable selection of support acts to help push our national pride to the fore. The electronica outfit Prymary Colours will be warming up the night, and there will be house and disco DJ sets from Groove Street Radio's Rob Le Nan and Torque's Giles K. It's just what St Paddy would have wanted.

St. Patrick's Festival Presents Kormac: Equivalent Exchange
Vicar Street, Dublin Sunday March 18th €24.90-€27.90
DJ and producer Kormac is curating an evening with some of the finest musicians working in Ireland today. Along with his Big Band, over 30 artists – including singer-songwriter Jack O'Rouke, the Iranian-Irish brothers Shahab and Shayan Coohe, Sierra Leonean neo-soul singer Loah and composer and conductor Eímear Noone – will collaborate with the Irish Chamber Orchestra to celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of Irish music, with Kormac taking charge as conductor.

Joan Baez
Waterfront Hall, Belfast Monday March 19th 8pm £59
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, Dublin Wednesday March 21st & Thursday March 22nd 7.30pm €59 (sold out)

There are few enough music legends left standing, let alone performing, but US singer-songwriter and political activist Joan Baez is one of them. These dates constitute the performer's Fare Thee Well tour, which looks set to be her touring performance swansong. Baez, however, also has a fine new album to plug – Whistle Down the Wind, which features songs written by the likes of Tom Waits, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Josh Ritter, Anohni, and Joe Henry (who also produced). This could be the last time we'll see Baez perform in Ireland – we think a standing ovation is in order, don't you?

Waterfront Hall, Belfast Tuesday March 20th 7.30pm £22.50
National Stadium, Dublin Wednesday March 21st 8pm €24

Ah, YouTube, where would we be without you? In fact, where would 22-year-old Londoner Dorothy "Dodie" Clark be without you? Clark has almost 1½ million subscribers to her YouTube channel, as well as over 160 million views of her many videos. From posting videos of her original songs and covers in 2011 to having her 2017 debut album, You, breaking into the US Billboard charts, the singer-songwriter has proved that all you need for crossover success is decent songs and a wifi connection. And the songs? Think vulnerable, observational, heartfelt songs with stylistic hints of early Kate Nash and Rosie Thomas, and you're halfway there.

Vance Joy
Olympia Theatre, Dublin Tuesday March 20th €21

James Keogh, aka Vance Joy, has been riding quite the wave since his 2013 hit single Riptide, and tickets for his Dublin gig are in such demand that he added an extra date – in November. In support of his second album Nation of Two, the Australian singer has a string of sold-out shows across Europe, so those of you lucky enough to have tickets better hold them close at night and whisper just how much they mean to you.

Bell X1
Vicar St, Dublin Wednesday March 21st-Sunday March 25th 7.30pm €36.50 (all shows sold out)

This may be unprecedented – an Irish rock/pop band (and much more besides) selling out five shows at this venue, with each night dedicated to specific albums and themes. For BellX1 fans, this is manna from heaven, and we'd guarantee quite a few people have secured tickets to each gig. The albums in question are Neither Am I (Wednesday), Music in Mouth (Thursday) and Flock (Friday). Saturday sees the band turn in a "Greatest Hits" show, while on Sunday they perform songs in semi-acoustic fashion. You have to hand it to this shape-shifting Irish band – as the years pass, Paul Noonan, Dave Geraghty and Dominic Philips negotiate a circuitous career with panache and style.

Tom Rogerson
National Concert Hall, Dublin Wednesday March 21st 8pm €20

An early starter, Tom Rogerson is quite likely the only UK musician who worked as a lounge pianist in a run-down hotel while also taking piano lessons from one of Britain's greatest living contemporary classical composers, Harrison Birtwistle. Rogerson was a teenager when Birtwistle was tutoring him, but as time passed he left behind classical music and embraced both jazz (pooling resources with The Bad Plus) and post-rock (in Three Trapped Tigers). Using what he describes as "diversionary tactics", he gradually veered back towards gentle ambient territory via a surprise collaboration with Brian Eno. The results were released last December on Rogerson's debut album, Finding Shore, a co-operative with Eno of gorgeous improvisation, accident and design.

The Secret Sisters
Whelan's, Dublin Thursday March 22nd 8pm €20
Empire Music Hall, Belfast Friday March 23rd 8.30pm £17.50
Hawks Well Theatre, Sligo Saturday March 24th 8pm €18

Ireland may have The Lost Brothers, but America has The Secret Sisters. We think a co-headline tour would be a perfect match (both acts share a fondness for the songs of The Everly Brothers) but as we await contracts to be formalised and tour dates to be announced, let's hear it for Laura and Lydia Rogers. From Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the sisters grew up surrounded by a family enmeshed in country music. Little surprise, then, that they took to the genre so well. Songs from latest (and Grammy-nominated) album You Don't Own me Anymore will be respectfully delivered on this brief Irish tour.

Academy, Dublin Friday March 23rd 7pm €23.90 (sold out)

The new Adele. The new Amy Winehouse. The new Lorde. The new blah-blah-blah. We’d feel a sliver of sympathy for Norwegian singer Sigrid Solbakk Raabe if she wasn’t go darned good. Not yet 22 years of age, and already garlanded with awards (if not weighed down with expectations), Sigrid debuted in front of an Irish audience last December, at Dingle-based Other Voices. She returns to Ireland with an even higher profile and much more heft to the claims made about her. In short, Sigrid is the real deal. Expect her to return to Ireland during the summer for festival gigs. In the meantime, beg for or steal a ticket – this is the hot-button gig of the week.

Paloma Faith
SSE Arena, Belfast Friday March 23rd 8pm £49/£38
3Arena, Dublin Saturday March 24th 8pm

As evidenced by the venues listed above, Paloma Faith is a big hit with mainstream audiences, but – as is usual – she slogged for years to get there. Over the past 20 years, she has worked as a bartender, magician's assistant, life model and sales assistant, and when she wasn't singing between jobs, she was undertaking showcase gigs for record companies and honing her songwriting skills. These are to the fore on her latest album, The Architect, which continues to deliver impassioned retro-soul perfect for mainstream consumption.

Lee 'Scratch' Perry 
Monroes, Galway Saturday March 24th €25

Lee “Scratch” Perry would put a lot of people to shame with his work ethic. The Jamaican producer and legend has been making reggae music since 1958 and has produced music for Bob Marley & the Wailers. He’s been credited with inventing dub and has gone on to influence artists working in almost every genre, most notably hip-hop and electronica. On March 20th, he’ll be turning 82, so make sure you give him the birthday celebration he deserves.