The best rock and pop this week: Queens of the Stone Age, Nelly, James Arthur and Mac Demarco

There’s some guitar-slinging, ear-busting bands ready to rock this week – and some gentle pop and banging dance

 

Saturday, November 18

Protomartyr
Whelan’s, Dublin. 8pm, €16.50. whelanslive.com

Protomartyr – angry times, fractious music
Protomartyr – angry times, fractious music

Pity the rock band with the name Butt Babies. Thankfully, Detroit’s Protomartyr changed the moniker quickly enough, and so, with very few the wiser, they have continued to distinctly mark out ground that is influenced not only by their native antecedents – The Stooges, MC5 – but also late 1970s UK punk/post-punk acts such as The Fall and Joy Division. Latest album Relatives in Descent contains songs written in the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential election, and as such simmer with a notable degree of dissatisfaction. Angry times, fractious music. Tony Clayton-Lea

Daithí
The Purty Kitchen, Dublin. 8pm, €10. purtykitchen.com

Daithí – uplifting house and techno musi
Daithí – uplifting house and techno musi

As Daithí’s live set goes from strength to strength as the years go on, you must place him higher on your must-see list. The Clare man mixes in live traditional fiddle, synths, drum machines and a huge range of samples, including his own granny’s voice on Mary Keane’s Introduction from last year’s Tribes EP, to create uplifting house and techno music. Support on the night will come from String Theory Soundsystem, the electronica side project of the Dublin-based Dj Mog-Y. Louise Bruton

Opeth
Academy, Dublin. 7pm, €35 (sold out) theacademydublin.com

Opeth – like to surprise people
Opeth – like to surprise people

As if Queens of the Stone Age isn’t enough for metal fans, here comes one of the most lauded metal acts around. For Sweden’s Opeth, however, the word “genre” isn’t in their dictionary. Not for them the tried and tested. Rather, they utilise styles that range from Pink Floyd and Swans to The Mars Volta and Joy Division, and music that embraces death metal, jazz, folk, psychedelia and classical. “It’s simple, really,” says lead singer Mikael Akerfeldt. “We like to surprise people.” Consider it done. Support is Norwegian extreme metal band, Enslaved. TCL

Sunday November 19

Stu Larsen
Whelan’s, Dublin. 8pm, €11. whelanslive.com

Stu Larsen – music with a message

If you like your Ed Sheerans and your Passengers, then say hello to Australia’s Stu Larsen. With two albums under his belt – 2014’s Vagabond and this year’s Resolute – as well as support slots to the aforementioned Passenger, there’s a troubadour itch waiting to be scratched here. There’s a message, too, according to Larsen: “too often, we just switch off and don’t think enough. . . Live simply. Don’t worry about the excesses.” TCL

Monday, November 20

Nelly
Vicar Street, Dublin. 7.30pm, €40. Also Nov 21. vicarstreet.com

Rapper Nelly – extravagant and ridiculous nostalgia
Rapper Nelly – extravagant and ridiculous nostalgia

The rapper all the way from St Louis caused quite the sensation when he played Vicar Street last year to the point where women flung their bras onstage. He’s been dining out on songs like Hot In Herre and Ride Wit Me, songs that are firmly lodged in the pop cannon as some of the greatest of all time, or G.O.A.T as we’ve recently been trying to work into our vernacular, and rightly so. Expect a night of extravagant and ridiculous nostalgia. LB

James Arthur
SSE Arena, Belfast. 8pm, £41.50/£30. ssearenabelfast.com. Also Nov 21, 3Arena, Dublin, 8pm, €37.50 ticketmaster.ie

James Arthur – hasn’t succumbed to the joys of musical theatre or appearing on/presenting reality shows
James Arthur – hasn’t succumbed to the joys of musical theatre or appearing on/presenting reality shows

One of the few X Factor alumni that hasn’t succumbed to the joys of musical theatre or appearing on/presenting reality shows, there was a time when James Arthur might actually have changed people’s minds about the generally lacklustre original output of hopeful pop stars. He faded from view, somewhat, four years ago, following the use of homophobic lyrics in one of his songs, but judging by the size of the shows he’s undertaking on his Back to the Edge tour, he seems to have put all of that behind him. Ella Henderson, another X Factor graduate, is special guest. TCL

Tuesday, November 21

Tops
Whelan’s Upstairs, Dublin. 8pm, €16. whelanslive.com

Tops
Tops - honey-soaked tunes full of romance

Montreal band Tops clearly like the independent route, as it has forged a solitary path since forming six years ago. The band also, rather cleverly, fuses its indie sensibility with music that packs a solid rock/pop punch. Also in the mix – and this is not a bad thing - is a charming wooziness that comes from listening to too many Mazzy Star albums. Recently released album, Sugar at the Gate, highlights the band’s style: catchy, honey-soaked tunes full of romance, whimsy, and clean melody lines. TCL

Wednesday, November 22

Mac Demarco
Vicar Street, Dublin. €25 . vicarstreet.com

Mac Demarco
Mac Demarco -  lo-fi and very laid

When you’re given a name like Vernor Winfield McBriare Smith IV, you’d have to develop a sense of humour and, thankfully, along with the wisdom to change that name, Mac Demarco does. The lo-fi and very laid back Canadian singer-songwriter is known to crack more than a few gags during his live set but with the release of This Old Dog this year, a bro-folk record of sorts, he’s ready to show his more serious side. LB

Thursday, November 23

Pussy Riot
Button Factory, Dublin. 7.30pm, €20. buttonfactory.ie Also Friday Mandela Hall, Belfast. 8pm, £19. mandelahall.com

Pussy Riot – expect performance art, brut-art punk rock, video footage, diatribes and surprises
Pussy Riot – expect performance art, brut-art punk rock, video footage, diatribes and surprises

There aren’t too many Russian feminist protest punk rock groups that have not only made loud, sensible noise but also appeared in an episode of House of Cards. Pussy Riot (this more theatrical iteration features Maria Alyokhina, Kyril Masheka, and others) defies convention by making music and decisions by instinct. Part of these shows will promote Alyokhina’s debut book-cum-punk manifesto, Riot Days, which details across variable media (song lyrics, court transcripts, diary extracts, et al) her 21 months of incarceration in a Siberian penal colony. Expect performance art, brut-art punk rock, video footage, diatribes and surprises. Special guests for Dublin are Pillow Queens, and Alien She; for Belfast, Bitch Falcon, and Sister Ghost. Gig of the week. TCL

Friday, November 24

Le Boom
Whelan’s, Dublin. 11.30pm, €10. whelanslive.com
Firm favourites Le Boom are going to whip Whelan’s and all its attendees into shape with this late night gig. Kicking with support from Newbridge DJs Mix & Fairbanks, it’s advised that you keep yourself properly hydrated at the electro-pop dynamic duo’s headline gig because it’s going to be a work out and a half. The gig is sold out but keep an eye on Le Boom’s Facebook event page for any poor sods that foolishly double-booked themselves and need to offload tickets. LB

Brave Giant
Monroes, Galway, 8pm, €8. (+ €1.25 Fees) ticketweb.ie
2017 has been good to Brave Giant. The Longford lads’ latest single, Way to Love, has been coasting along nicely in the Irish iTunes charts and they’ve been racking up sellout shows in Dublin throughout the year. With violins and mandolins at the ready, they’re really pushing for the folk side of things to land with the pop. Think Ed Sheeran and Athy act Picture This. TCL

Jeff Mills
The Telegraph Building, Belfast. 8pm, £25 (+ £2.50 Fee).
As one of techno’s hardest working DJs and producers, Jeff Mills is an absolute hero. Going strong since the 80s and usually featuring on festival line-ups, this Belfast date is his only headline gig in Ireland this year. No longer known as The Wizard, at 54 years of age, Mills is still guaranteed to deliver pure magic when he’s on the decks. Dense & Pika, Jasper James, Space Dimension Controller and others will also be performing on the night. LB

Queens of the Stone Age
3Arena, Dublin. 8pm, €50.65 (sold out)

Queens of the Stone Age – slinky mixture of drilled riffs, mutant metal, and a side order of desert blues
Queens of the Stone Age – slinky mixture of drilled riffs, mutant metal, and a side order of desert blues

It has been more than 20 years since Josh Homme walked away from US rock band Kyuss and re-entered the fray shortly after via Queens of the Stone Age. With a name chosen for its less macho connotations (“rock music should be heavy enough for the boys and sweet enough for the girls. That way, everyone’s happy and it’s more of a party,” said Homme some years back), the band has swaggered its way through two decades with a slinky mixture of drilled riffs, mutant metal, and a side order of desert blues. TCL

Pumarosa
The Workman’s Club, Dublin. 8pm, €16. theworkmansclub.com
East London band Pumarosa first came to the attention of very interested ears two years ago when their debut single, Priestess, introduced the voice of Isabel Munoz-Newsome to us. The song unfolded over seven minutes of blissed-out guitar and urgent bass, but what really impressed was Munoz-Newsome and how she wove her vocals into and around the music. Expect more of the same at this show, at which latest album, The Witch, will be plugged. TCL

Pvris
Academy, Dublin. 7pm, €23 (sold out)
Oh, those French types, etc. Actually, Pvris might be pronounced as “Paris” but this trio is from Lowell, Massachusetts, and they’ve been around since 2012 (under the name, mon dieu!, of Operation Guillotine). Whatever of the Francophile tastes, Pvris look toward another European cities for inspiration, notably Berlin and Dusseldorf. No surprises, then, that the music is a nimble mixture of beat-heavy rock, under-ether electronica, and synthpop. Special guests for this sold out show include Nashville indie pop band Coin. TCL

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