23 things we're looking forward to in 2023

Text: 23 things we're looking forward to in 2023
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2022 was the year that live music got back on its feet again, also producing a raft of excellent albums from bands old and new. What a relief it’s been to have those stabilising forces in our lives. 

Here are just some of the things we’ll be looking out for over the next 12 months.

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A brand new Metallica album

Metallica release a new studio album, 72 Seasons, on April 14. The San Franciscan band’s conceptually based twelfth studio album was produced by Greg Fidelman with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich, and is their first since 2016’s Hardwired... To Self-Destruct.

You’ll already have heard its single, Lux Æterna, which almost broke the internet on the day it was unveiled. The band have lined up a bunch of shows – see below.


Download Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary

Team Metallica will be at Donington Park in June, playing two no-songs-repeated sets on Thursday and Saturday. The other headline acts are Slipknot and Bring Me The Horizon, with Ghost, Evanescence, Placebo, Within Temptation and Disturbed set to join them and a whole load more names to be announced over the coming months.


Guns N' Roses play the BST Festival in London's Hyde Park

On June 30, Guns N’ Roses will make their debut at the prestigious BST Festival in Hyde Park as part of the tenth anniversary of the event. As yet, no regional concerts by the band had been announced.


Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe go stadium-sized

Having taken America by storm with The Stadium Tour, co-headliners Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe – the latter now with John 5 on lead guitar as replacement for Mick Mars, following his retirement from live work – repeat the trick with six Latin American shows, before another 20 across The UK, Ireland and mainland Europe. The European jaunt will kick off with a hometown date at Sheffield’s Bramall Lane on May 22. The rest of the bill is yet to be confirmed, but you can bet it’ll be very cool indeed.


Farewell shows from Kiss, Foreigner and Elton. Also Roger Waters and Queen?

Although they are yet to publicly release the details, Kiss have decided on the venue and date for their final concert. Also wrapping an illustrious career, Foreigner are set to play 32 US shows during the summer, with a European leg to be confirmed. Elton John’s mammoth swansong trek winds through the UK during April, May and June culminating with his final UK show headlining the Sunday night at Glastonbury. 

With tongue in cheek, Roger Waters has referred to three homeland This Is Not A Drill concerts as his “first farewell tour”. And Queen + Adam Lambert are in talks for a farewell tour of their own. “We’d like to go out there one more time,” says Brian May.


Judas Priest release their latest burst of firepower

Fresh from their induction at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame (congratulations, guys), Judas Priest get back to business with their nineteenth studio album. Described by vocalist Rob Halford as “adventurous”, the follow-up to Fire Power is expected by the end of 2023. 

As things stand, Priest are set to be Special Guests to Ozzy Osbourne on his arena dates in May and June, on a tour that has been rescheduled multiple times due to Ozzy’s health issues.


Iron Maiden bring their past into the future

As part of their The Future Past tour, Iron Maiden will perform songs from their current album Senjutsu, as well as revisiting their classic album Somewhere In Time and a slew of catalogue gems. Indoor shows from Maiden are not to be missed.


A new album and tour from Peter Gabriel

“It’s been a while,” Peter Gabriel deadpanned as he announced concerts in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester and Dublin as part of an tour that begins in Poland on May 18. Twenty-one years on from his last all-original studio album, 2002’s Up, Gabriel also releases a new record, titled i/o, just before he hits the road. The first single, Panopticom, is out now.


Bloodstock brings in the heavy A-Team

Late last year, Helloween and Meshuggah were added to the bill of Bloodstock, the UK’s leading annual heavy metal extravaganza. They join a stellar cast that includes Megadeth, Anthrax, Killswitch Engage, In Flames and Sepultura. Catton Park in Derbyshire is the place to be, from August 10-13.


Festivals are well and truly back - official

After a difficult couple of years, the return of open-air festivals in 2022 brought immeasurable amounts of joy. This year there’s something for everyone: Steelhouse and Stonedead for rock and metal, A New Day for classic retro sounds, big names in Hyde Park as part of BST (British Summer Time), Iggy Pop and Blondie team up for Dog Day Afternoon at London’s Crystal Palace Park, stoner rock at Desertfest, and the indoor Country 2 Country for... well, you know. And so much more. It’s an embarrassment of riches.


Could Maid Of Stone Festival revive the spirit of Ramblin' Man Fair? 

Details of this one are still a bit vague so don’t shoot the messenger, but a new festival called Maid Of Stone claims to be lining up a bill that features “world-renowned international artists” at Mote Park in Maidstone, previously the home of the now defunct Ramblin’ Man Fair (which last took place in 2019), over the weekend of July 22 and 23. The First lineup announcement is scheduled to arrive on January 26. 


New music from The Rolling Stones... and other A-listers?

Ronnie Wood has revealed that late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts will feature on a Rolling Stones album currently being recorded in Los Angeles, along with the group’s replacement drummer Steve Jordan.

Could Guns N’ Roses and AC/DC get around to releasing anything new this year? Hey, experience tells us that anything can happen, and often does.


More unheard music from Motörhead

Look out for an expanded version of Motörhead’s twenty-third and final studio album, 2015’s Bad Magic. It includes the recently released track Bullet In Your Brain and the previously released Greedy Bastards, plus a live performance from Japan in the same year. Bad Magic: Seriously Bad Magic is released on February 24.


The boss returns to the stage

Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band will perform a series of arena shows in the US from February to April before heading to Europe for outdoor summer shows. The run will include Bruce’s first UK appearances since June 2016.


Sparks to fly for the Mael brothers

Now into a sixth decade of making music, Ron and Russell Mael are set to release a new, as-yet untitled studio album in 2023, and before that make their debut appearances at London’s Royal Albert Hall, on May 29 and 30. “The Royal Albert Hall has been the pinnacle of British music venues for us and these shows are a dream come true,” say the brothers.


Wolfgang Van Halen cues up a second Mammoth album 

Mammoth WVH, aka Edward Van Halen’s son Wolfgang, blew us all away as he honoured his much-loved dad at the Taylor Hawkins shows. Expectations will be raised for his second album, currently in the works, once again produced by his “partner in crime” Michael ‘Elvis’ Baskette.

“I’d like to widen the breadth of what Mammoth can be; make the softer songs softer still and the heavier songs even more like metal,” Wolfie recently told Classic Rock of the record’s direction.

We are intrigued.


The Damned follow their "Frantic Four" moment 

Following the recent live reunion of the original line-up of The Damned – their first appearances in more than three decades – the current incarnation of David Vanian, Captain Sensible, Monty Oxymoron, Paul Gray and Will Glanville-Taylor return to the road for a lengthy tour that kicks off in Cardiff on March 31. There’s also an album (details to follow).


Lucky number seven from Steven Wilson

Hands up who foresaw the return of Porcupine Tree? Not too many of you, we’ll wager. Like The Damned getting back together, it was a glorious moment. And now, also like The Damned, Steven Wilson dusts himself down, files away those memories and continues making his own music. His seventh solo album, The Harmony Codex, will be conceptually themed, Wilson has revealed, describing its direction “epic and uncompromising”.


Dolly goes rock. Yes, really

Newly inducted to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, country icon Dolly Parton has responded by making her first ever rock album. It’s been reported that she tried to get Jimmy Page and Robert Plant to appear on a version of Stairway To Heaven. Whether or not they accepted remains uncertain. Don’t expect a Dolly tour, though – at 76 she figures she’s probably too old for extended bouts of road activity.


The return of Rival Sons

Long Beach rockers Rival Sons release their seventh album, Darkfighter, on March 10. The follow-up to 2019’s Feral Roots, it was recorded in Nashville with their long-time producer Dave Cobb. They’ll be touring in the autumn. More news when we get it.


New supergroup alert!

What do you get when you cross Aerosmith’s Joe Perry, Nikki Sixx from the Crüe, Alice Cooper and Johnny Depp, with production from the celebrated ‘Mutt’ Lange? The answer is a new supergroup called Crossbone Skully, and a record we can’t wait to hear. Also don’t forget that Alice and Johnny will be touring with the Hollywood Vampires in the summer. And Joe Bonamassa has confided that he and Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham and Derek Sherinian are preparing a fifth album from Black Country Communion. It’s all going super-tastic.


Also albums from...

As if those we’ve mentioned aren’t enough, expect new records from The Answer, Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Quireboys, Ayron Jones, The Winery Dogs, Those Damn Crows, The Cold Stares, DeWolff, Within Temptation, The Raven Age, Levellers, Royal Thunder and many, many more.


Also hitting the road...

Other exciting tours include Black Stone Cherry co-headlining with The Darkness, Dream Theater, Blackberry Smoke, Massive Wagons, Those Damn Crows, Black Star Riders, Bonnie Raitt, Samantha Fish, Gojira, Marcus King, Don Broco supported by Papa Roach and more.

Dave Ling was a co-founder of Classic Rock magazine. His words have appeared in a variety of music publications, including RAW, Kerrang!, Metal Hammer, Prog, Rock Candy, Fireworks and Sounds. Dave’s life was shaped in 1974 through the purchase of a copy of Sweet’s album ‘Sweet Fanny Adams’, along with early gig experiences from Status Quo, Rush, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Yes and Queen. As a lifelong season ticket holder of Crystal Palace FC, he is completely incapable of uttering the word ‘Br***ton’.