Adele? Foos? Queen Bey and Tay-Tay? We gaze into our crystal balls to work out which major acts may tour Aotearoa this year.
Across the next few months, some of pop’s biggest names are visiting our shores. Ed Sheeran, Backstreet Boys, Florence + the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Lorde and Harry Styles are all scheduled to perform highly anticipated shows across our wild, windy, wet and cyclone-fuelled summer. Good luck, then, to those performing outdoors.
Sam Smith’s on their way, so are Cypress Hill, Tash Sultana, The 1975 and Blink-182. Even Elton John, bless his 75-year-old soul, will be back to finish the gig he first started way back in the early days of 2020. So, one thing’s for certain: New Zealand is not being short-changed on big name concerts.
But it’s been three long years with closed borders and Covid concerns. There are many more acts, and even bigger artists, preparing to hit the road and are yet to make it down under. Some need to tour to make a living because those tiny Spotify stream payments just aren’t cutting it. Others need to reschedule concerts postponed by Covid, or illness, or a mental health reset. Other major stadium veterans have been in hibernation. For some, it just feels about time.
There are rumours. Holy wow there are plenty of rumours. Don’t go on Google – you’ll be there for days. Instead, sift through our best bets, our biggest hunches, and our solid guesstimates, about which acts might play big gigs on our shores in 2023. Hold on to your credit card and get ready to sit in some tense ticketing queues – if even half these shows happen, it will be a massive year for live music.
She’s the biggest pop star on the planet and she’s already announced her Ticketmaster-destroying, career-spanning American tour. Taylor Swift, like clockwork, visits Australia roughly every three years (Covid has prevented her from touring anywhere since the end of her Reputation stadium tour in 2018). There’s also strong precedent for her visiting New Zealand, if you discount the unforgivable exclusion of our country from the 1989 tour schedule in 2015. It’s therefore inevitable that Swift, now at the top of her game regardless of the quality of her most recent album, will be visiting our shores sometime over next summer. She may have struggled to sell out Mt Smart Stadium five years ago, but you can bet she’ll have no problem filling it several times over in 2023. /Stewart Sowman-Lund
Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters were due to perform in Auckland in December 2022, but that gig was cancelled after the tragic death of the band’s livewire drummer Taylor Hawkins. The stadium veterans have confirmed they’ll be hitting the road again this year with three US festivals already booked: Boston Calling, Sonic Temple and Bonnaroo. While their new drummer isn’t yet confirmed, odds-on favourite has to be Hawkins’ 16-year-old son Oliver, who absolutely nailed ‘My Hero’ at the group’s Wembley tribute concert. Prediction: Expect the Foos to rock out down under next summer. And expect those show to be joyous. /Chris Schulz
Beyoncé brought us the best album of both her career and the year with 2022’s Renaissance. It was touted as “Act One” of a three-part project. Surely one of those acts involves a massive world tour? The rumour mill has been swirling for some time now that Queen Bey will make her return to Australia and New Zealand at the tail end of 2023. Her last tour was almost a decade ago, selling out four nights at Spark Arena (née Vector). This time around it’s a guarantee she’ll join the mega list of artists performing in stadiums and I for one cannot wait. /SSL
Despite threatening to stop making music and cease touring until it becomes more sustainable, Coldplay have been back on the road touring their last album, a concept record called Music of the Spheres, since March. Their eco-friendly world tour is, by all accounts, supposed to include a New Zealand date in 2022. At least, that’s what fans decoded from cryptic messages left on the band’s Spotify account. Sadly for fans, and happily for haters, Chris Martin and co have since consciously uncoupled themselves from those rumours. Our prediction is that they’ll be down under soon enough, possibly in the second half of 2023. /CS
In 2017 I was leaked details of Adele’s first ever New Zealand concerts in what was a huge moment in my burgeoning journalism career. The British pop superstar went on to break records with a series of in-the-round gigs at Mt Smart stadium. Jump forward to January 2023 and I have absolutely no hard evidence that Adele will be returning to Aotearoa. But here’s what we do know: she’s set to wrap up her massive Vegas residency that has delighted audiences, critics and TikTok audiences alike (not to mention tickets being flogged for more than $70,000). Plus she recently sold out London’s Hyde Park for two nights in a row.
We know that Adele’s music spans generations, meaning she’d be guaranteed three or four (or maybe more) sold-out nights at Eden Park should she make the trek back here. That being said, Adele hinted her 2017 tour would be her last – so it may be a stretch to suggest she’ll return to New Zealand anytime soon. But with her most recent album up for a haul of Grammys, and a back catalogue of hits under her belt, fans continue to wait and hope. /SSL
She’s back – sort of. Rihanna, the mysterious pop star whose star only shines brighter the longer she stays out of the limelight, will finally perform again in 2023. It’s for just one night that will last just 15 minutes during the half-time show at the Super Bowl on February 12, but it’s surely a sign. Those Super Bowl shows tend to be legacy-celebrating affairs, a chance for an artist to elevate themselves to veteran status while running through all their biggest hits (please play ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ Ri-Ri, we beg you). But it’s a sign that she might finally be returning to music. After such a long absence, that really would be an event. /CS
The new album is finished, the guitars are tuned, the therapist is booked and Metallica are primed, pumped and ready to satisfy metalheads and head out on the road across 2023 and 2024. Multiple nights are already booked for their M72 world tour, where the rock veterans play two nights in every town promising different sets and no repeats at every stop. Their last New Zealand tour was cancelled in 2019 when front man James Hetfield headed back to rehab. Our guess is we’ll see them banging heads together again here very soon, possibly with a few famous friends in tow. /CS
“I’m going to take a break from touring for the time being.” Those words came from Justin Bieber in September during an announcement that the Canadian pop star would cancel the rest of his Justice world tour to focus on his health and deal with a recent diagnosis of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome. That meant his New Zealand tour date of December 7 wouldn’t go ahead. Bieber’s never been able to stay off the road for long so our prediction is Bieber fever will hit our shores again in late 2023, or early 2024. You’d better beliebe it (sorry). /CS
The Spice Girls
There are rumours the ‘90s pop idols have locked in the coveted legends slot at Glastonbury this year. After the success of their 2019 UK reunion tour, along with teases that an Australian leg has been in the planning phase, why couldn’t we see the Girls in New Zealand too? The band has also just celebrated the 25th anniversary of their Spiceworld album – the perfect time to cash in on the nostalgia-factor and hit the road once again. /SSL
At his sold-out Spark Arena spectacle in 2017, Drake showed off all the baubles, ripping through his biggest hits backed by pyro, lasers, a fireworks display and an ocean of ball lights hovering over him. All that happened inside the first 10 minutes, making it one hell of a show from the 6 God. Why it hasn’t happened again is a mystery. Our prediction is Drake will be back in 2023, and we think he’ll bring rapper 21 Savage – his sidekick on the recent joint album Her Loss – with him. Besides, The Daily Mail already said it, so it must be true. /CS
The American singer has a new album due out shortly and has already announced a slew of international stadium dates. Thankfully for us down under, Pink has enjoyed her biggest successes in the southern hemisphere. On her last tour, she sold out about a dozen dates at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena as part of a lengthy Australian tour, and similarly broke records here with six sold-out gigs at Spark Arena. It’s almost certain she’ll be returning to her “second home” of Australia – this time likely with a full-blown stadium show – and I’d put money on her making the trip across the ditch for her New Zealand fans as well. /SSL
The Australian pop icon may not have any new music out, but bear with us. Her incredible 2020 lockdown album Disco never got the dance party justice it deserved despite repeated promises of a live tour. As recently as late last year, rumours were swirling that Minogue would be touring the album – and possibly new music – in 2023. She’s also relocated to Australia for the first time since fleeing for the UK near the start of her music career. And she’s set to headline the Sydney Pride Festival in the coming weeks. Count us in when the princess of pop makes a long-overdue return to New Zealand. /SSL
The Rolling Stones
There are reports out of Australia that promoters have been trying to woo the band back down under as part of their 60th anniversary tour. With that, the possibility of a couple of New Zealand dates increases. They may have recently lost a band member and lead singer Mick Jagger is pushing 80, but can anything ever stop the Stones? /SSL
If the ’90s really are back in fashion, that must make Pearl Jam the hottest act out there. The Seattle grunge survivors haven’t performed in Aotearoa since the last ever Big Day Out in 2014, so they’re long overdue for a visit. But they’ve only played sporadically together over the past few years and have zero shows booked so far in 2023. Our guess is they’re keeping their schedule clear for a major world tour. Jeremy, it seems, may once again speak in class today. Let’s hope it’s at Western Springs, asap. /CS