12 things we're looking forward to in 2018

Axl Rose

With huge tours and festivals already confirmed, and our favourite artists preparing new music, here’s just some of what we’re vibed up for in 2018…

Ozzy signs off at Download, with GN’R along for the ride

Sabbath may have called it a day as far as touring, but Ozzy is set to undertake at least one more lap of the globe. He and his latest solo band, with Zakk Wylde back on guitar for the first time since 2009, close Download Festival in June, where Ozzy is joined by co-headliners Guns N’ Roses (Saturday) and Avenged Sevenfold (Friday). As usual the event takes place at Donington Park Racetrack, this year on June 8-10. The bill also includes Marilyn Manson, Bullet For My Valentine, The Hives and Body Count, with many, many more to be confirmed. Guns N’ Roses return to Donington as part of the long-running Not In This Lifetime Tour that includes 13 outdoor shows across Europe. Tickets are on sale now.

Roger Waters gives us what we really want

Waters brings his critically acclaimed Us + Them tour to London’s Hyde Park as part of the British Summer Time Festival on July 6. He also plays indoor dates in Glasgow (June 29), Liverpool (July 2) Manchester (3) and Birmingham (7). The show features songs from Pink Floyd’s greatest albums, including The Dark Side Of The Moon, The Wall, Animals and Wish You Were Here, plus material from Waters’s current solo album Is This The Life We Really Want?. The tour recently closed its North American leg to rave reviews. Tickets are on sale now.

After bowing out in 2017, ‘Slowhand’ is back

A year ago we were mourning Eric Clapton’s farewell tour. “This is it, no more,” said the then 71-year-old. Well, it seems Eric still wants to play occasional shows (no wonder we said the end was “hard to believe”). Clapton plays the British Summer Time Festival on the Great Oak Stage for what will be his first show in Hyde Park since 2008. Support acts include Steve Winwood, Santana and Gary Clark Jr. Tickets are on sale now.

Ramblin’ Man and Steelhouse festivals return

The great news for those who love both these festivals is that for the first time since 2014 they’re on separate weekends. Yay! Headliners are yet to be announced, but the first acts booked for Ramblin’ Man, at its usual home in Maidstone, Kent on June 30 and July 1, are the prog-metal supergroup Sons Of Apollo, Halestorm, Blackberry Smoke and Steve Earle & The Dukes, the latter playing a set based on Earle’s much-loved album Copperhead Road.

Ever fancied attending a rock festival on top of a mountain? If so, the Steelhouse Festival, which takes place in the Brecon Beacons in South Wales, is one for the diary. This year’s line-up includes Black Star Riders, the Quireboys, King King, Stone Broken, Aaron Buchanan & The Cult Classics, Massive Wagons, Bad Flowers, Those Damn Crows and more. Pack your crampons and tent for July 27-29.

Scorpions’ farewell tour continues

Is there any point in reminding you all that Klaus, Rudolf and the gang announced their farewell tour back in 2010? Well, eight years on it’s still going, and for their only UK appearance of 2018 the Scorps co-headline the third annual Stone Free Festival, at London’s O2 Arena over the weekend of June 1617. Joining them on the Saturday (16th) are Megadeth. Twenty-four hours later, Yes featuring Jon Anderson, Trevor Rabin & Rick Wakeman top the bill, with support from former Supertramp frontman Roger Hodgson and Joanne Shaw Taylor. Get tickets.

Parfitt says: Over And Out

A final record from late Status Quo rhythm guitarist Rick Parfitt gets a posthumous release on March 23. Parfitt had virtually completed Over And Out before his death a year ago. Along with Alan Lancaster and John ‘Rhino’ Edwards, his son, Rick Parfitt Jnr, helped to complete the recordings, which also feature Queen’s Brian May and Muse bassist Chris Wolstenholme. The music on the album is said to showcase “the purest rock and roll sound of early Status Quo records” as well as Parfitt’s “softer side”. Pre-order.

Myles Kennedy unveils his solo debut

The singer with both Alter Bridge and Slash’s solo band finally releases his debut album in the spring via Napalm Records. Produced by Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette, Year Of The Tiger is a 12-song concept album inspired by Kennedy losing his father when he was a child. It includes the tracks Ghost Of Shangri La, Love Can Only Heal and Devil On The Wall.

Last summer Alter Bridge guitarist Mark Tremonti joked that Kennedy’s album was “about eight years overdue”. Asked about the music on it, he said: “From what I’ve heard it’s less of an Alter Bridge-sounding rock’n’roll record and more in the vein of [his heroes] Chris Whitley and Jeff Buckley.” Look out for a live recording from Alter Bridge’s two nights at the Albert Hall with the Parallax Orchestra too.

Ginger throws down the gauntlet; Pearl Jam fly in

A co-headline tour from Reef, The Wildhearts and Terrorvision, billed as Britrock Must Be Destroyed!, is among the most intriguing tours of 2018. Stoking up the fires of competition, Ginger Wildheart quipped of the May showdown: “We are honoured to be a part of this legendary tour. Mainly because it means that we’re still alive, but also because it gives us a chance to prove that we were always the best band of this whole bunch.”

Pearl Jam have confirmed a pair of dates at London’s O2 Arena on June 18 and 19, and in the autumn Jeff Lynne takes his new-look Jeff Lynne’s ELO around the country for eight indoor dates.

Comedy metallers Steel Panther are back, with Inglorious and Toby Jepson’s new group Wayward Sons as support. The ubiquitous Ginger Wildheart is also out on the road again in February and March as special guest of the Levellers, while Brothers Osborne play their first UK headline tour in May.

Priest flex their Firepower, Stone Temple Pilots bounce back

Judas Priest recently launched a short but very sweet teaser clip of Firepower, their second studio album with guitarist Richie Faulkner. Expect it to be out in time for their slot at Bloodstock Festival on August 10.

Saxon’s Thunderbolt is due on February 2, and with titles such as Speed Merchants, Olympus Rising and They Played Rock ’N’ Roll there are no prizes for guessing what it sounds like.

Stone Temple Pilots have a new frontman, Jeff Gutt, who follows former frontmen Scott Weiland and Chester Bennington, both of whom are now no longer with us. Gutt (pronounced Goot) appears on STP’s new single Meadow. An as-yet-untitled seventh album is released via Atlantic Records in early 2018.

It will be fascinating to see what The Damned turn in, with the legendary Tony Visconti producing and Paul Gray back on bass, while in the coming months Clutch are set to release a follow-up to 2015’s Psychic Warfare.

Fish is making progress with Weltschmerz (the title means ‘pain of the world’), the dark studio album that he claims will be his last, and that is followed by a final run of shows.

Some 14 years after their previous album, eMOTIVe, A Perfect Circle release something new in the coming months. If it’s anything like teaser track The Doomed, count us in.

Joe Bonamassa and Beth Hart both have big years ahead. Bonamassa, who kicks things off with Black Country Communion, plays Hampton Court Palace Festival on June 12. Hart’s commitments include a sold-out date at London’s Royal Albert Hall on May 4. Together they have a new studio album, Black Coffee, out on January 26, followed by a live recording from a previous show at the Albert Hall.

Resistance of the Manics is futile

Manic Street Preachers release their first new recordings in four years on April 6, and play an eight date arena tour of the UK. Resistance Is Futile is their thirteenth studio album. According to the band, its main themes are: “Memory and loss; forgotten history; confused reality and art as a hiding place and inspiration.” Direction-wise, they say it’s “obsessively melodic – in many ways referencing both the naive energy of Generation Terrorists and the orchestral sweep of Everything Must Go.”

Michael Schenker Fest goes on the record

Following a tour with his former lead singers Gary Barden, Graham Bonnet and Robin McAuley, plus musicians from previous MSG line-ups (Chris Glen, Ted McKenna and Steve Mann), Schenker releases an album, Resurrection, that features them all, plus most recent singer Doogie White. Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett guests on the album track Heart And Soul. As implied by the title, Resurrection is a new start for the veteran guitarist. “After leaving UFO and the Scorpions I decided I only wanted to do small stuff,” he explains. “Now my state of mind is different. Nothing scares me any more. Now I’m going to go for it.” The album is out on March 2 via Nuclear Blast.

Lots more new albums

After 80s radio rock-nodding indie youths The Xcerts ease us into 2018 with Hold On To Your Heart (January 19), as well as a new one from Monster Truck early in the year, Phil Campbell And The Bastard Sons release The Age Of Absurdity on January 26 via Nuclear Blast.

“We knew we had a great band, and just attempted to write the best songs we could,” former Motörhead guitarist Campbell tells Classic Rock. “We went into recording with no theme as such, but listening to Neil’s [Starr, vocalist] lyrics on the subject of the crazy world we live in led us to come up with the title The Age Of Absurdity. I think we definitely achieved what we set out to do, and we can’t wait for people to hear it. We’ve already been playing Freak Show, Dark Days and Ringleader [at gigs].”

South African bluesy guitar virtuoso Dan Patlansky releases Perfection Kills on February 2, former Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon releases his solo album, Sleepwalkers, on February 9, and the third record from The Temperance Movement, A Deeper Cut, is out on February 16 via Earache.

March 9 sees the arrival of West Country rockers Tax The Heat’s new album Change Your Positionand Turbowolf’s The Free Life. Pencilled in for around spring are also albums from Blackberry Smoke and the Vintage Caravan. And as we move on into late March/early April The Struts will be bringing shedloads of sequins and good-time tunes.

There are lots more still to be confirmed, but new records are expected from Shinedown, Wilson and Black Stone Cherry, with releases from Halestorm, The Answer frontman Cormac Neeson, Crobot, Hardcore Superstar and Zeal & Ardor to be confirmed for the spring/later in 2018.

Record Store Day 2018 details announced