Whisper it, but there might just be hope on the horizon for live music in 2022. After two years of last-minute cancellations, postponements and scuppered reunions, it looks like this year might finally be when it all comes together. Of course, it all remains to be seen, but here’s a look forward to the biggest and best gigs happening in 2022.
Berlin runs on hip-hop as much as it does techno, yet for some reason, appearances by performers from the upper echelons of US rap are still at a premium. Over the last few years, Freddie Gibbs has more than earned his seat at the top table – his two stunning collaborative albums with Madlib played a large part – and now a European tour feels essential.
Gibbs leaves it all on the mic. His frank assessment of the realities of life would make for heavy source material in the bars of any other MC, and yet with keen wordplay and louche steeze, he makes it all seem like another day at the office – which sadly, it all too often is.
- Metropol, Thursday March 24
Having swapped the aesthetic sleaze of his earlier work for a more restrained exercise in introspection in recent times, Cameron will arrive in Berlin having just released his fourth album Oxy Music.
It’s a continuation in form from 2019’s Miami Memory, and the Australian singer-songwriter seems to have cottoned on to the sound that was still nascent before the pandemic hit. In many respects, this is a different Alex Cameron to the one who last performed on the Berlin stage. Back then, he was a rockstar in the truest sense of the word, and while that won’t have changed, it will be interesting to see what has.
- Festsaal Kreuzberg, Tuesday March 29
British music isn’t short of working-class voices, it’s just that, by and large, they tend to be in hip-hop. Sleaford Mods, meanwhile, deal in the kind of aggravated post-punk that seems to have been co-opted by a raft of well-intentioned, if occasionally naïve art kids.
Naïve is not an accusation that could be levelled at Sleaford Mods. It’s all on display here, and as uplifting as the 90s whizz of their electronics can be, it’s frankly tragic that 30 years on the working class are still raging about the exact same issues.
- Columbiahalle, Sunday April 3
Cate Le Bon
Cate Le Bon exudes art. You’d be forgiven for thinking that songs come streaming out of her hair, loosened from her mind by the brush, an exercise of rhythmic precision and daily practice – sadly not. Aspiring artists take note: Le Bon’s masterfully layered brand of avant-pop is the result rigorous training and an absolute dedication to her craft.
Cate Le Bon’s 6th solo album Pompeii is a marvel of abstraction. It is something akin to a meandering Tarkovski cut, the kind that picks you up in one place and puts you down in another, drastically changing your perspective without you ever having noticed. Performing live in the intimate Frannz Club, this spellbinding concert is a must-see.
- Frannz Club, Tuesday April 5
Róisín Murphy has proven time and time again that she is the real deal. Once of Moloko, the arch of stardom has been kind to Murphy and deservedly so. There are few artists that recover from a track the size of Sing It Back and fewer still that can call on consistent critical acclaim in the nearly 25 years since.
Her most recent album Róisín Machine is stacked with exotic, sensual, experimental pop music that deserves full recognition. Never forget her 2019 performance at Panorama Bar. She brought the house down, and the shutters up in one fell swoop before going to sweat the night away in the crowd with the rest of the faithful flock – iconic.
- Columbiahalle, Monday May 16
The Strokes, Muse and other big rock names are set to perform at the new Tempelhof Sounds festival in June 2022. Photo: Imago/Star-Media
Tempelhof Sounds is bringing live music back to Tempelhofer Feld, and The Strokes, Muse and Florence and The Machine will headline Berlin’s brand new rock music festival at the iconic former airport.
Hitting the sweet spot between new names and nostalgia, Tempelhof Sounds packs the rest of the lineup with Alt-J, Interpol, Fontaines DC, IDLES, London Grammar, Royal Blood, Mac DeMarco and Berlin’s own Parcels. The new city festival promises to be the perfect curtain-raiser for the Berlin summer we’ve all been waiting for.
- Tempelhofer Feld, Friday June 10 – Sunday June 12. Day tickets cost €79, weekend tickets €179, get more information and tickets.
King Gizzard and The Wizard Lizard
When the Australian band finally beam down to Berlin this summer, they will have already released their 19th studio album in 12 years. Prolific doesn’t quite cut it for these genre-hopping avant gardists.
In terms of their sound, psychedelic is perhaps the only descriptor that one could apply to their oeuvre. Given the startling creativity and quality that flows through this band, one can assume that they’ve always had an ear to the ground, a finger on the pulse, and a third eye wide open.
- Tempodrom, Tuesday June 14
You can tell a lot about a person by the reunion they’re most excited to see. In the last few years, for better or for worse, Bikini Kill, Fugees, My Chemical Romance, and more have all decided to give it another whirl. Still, there are no finer purveyors of 90s soft boi teenage angst than Pavement.
Slanted and Enchanted is 30 years old already, while Wowee Zowee and Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain are not far behind. On the one hand, you could take those facts at face value and let the cold, unblinking passage of time sink in. Or, you could just as easily allow yourself to slip back into shades of VHS fuzz and enjoy the show.
- Tempodrom, Saturday November 5
Pet Shop Boys
Show me a person that doesn’t like the Pet Shop Boys, and I’ll call them a liar. In a rare double-whammy of unbridled joy, the electro-pop icons were initially slated to play on Erste Mai 2020, and we have been waiting for them to come to town ever since.
Forty years on, and Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe are still turning out hits – their most recent album Hotspot was recorded in Berlin’s legendary Hansa Studios – and the opportunity to see them live is surely attractive to all but the most acrimonious of sorts.
- Mercedes-Benz-Arena, Sunday November 6
Waxing lyrical about the British-Nigerian rapper is de rigueur these days. Arguably the most talented act of a stellar generation in the UK, she has gone from strength to strength, taking bigger and bigger risks on every record that have always paid off.
The north London rapper put out one of the albums of 2021 with Sometimes I Might Be Introvert. Sometimes she goes in, and sometimes she mellows; sometimes she brims with confidence or bubbles up with wry funk. This is a young woman facing her anxieties, bending vulnerabilities to her will, and wielding them to her supreme advantage.
- Tempodrom, Saturday December 10