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Music of Belfast: best gigs

In Northern Ireland’s capital, you can see underground folk outfits in intimate watering holes and rock legends in jam-packed stadiums. Check out this run-down of the best on offer in 2015 to help you plan your trip.

Legends of the stage

Bringing you two of the world’s most seminal singer/songwriters for the price of one, Paul Simon and Sting’s On Stage Together tour arrives at the Odyssey this April. The combined back-catalogue of these two is truly gargantuan, and their 30-plus song set sees them blend their voices to creatively re-work classics such as Fields of Gold, Every Breath You Take ​and Graceland in fresh musical arrangements.

This summer, Belfast welcomes one of the most influential bands in the history of rock and roll for an extended farewell. The Who were originally scheduled to play last year on their 50th anniversary tour, but the date was postponed, giving fans a second chance to see lead singer Roger Daltrey and guitarist Pete Townsend bashing out some all-time classic hits. The two surviving members of the fabled four-piece will be racing through their entire musical career, stopping at all major stations on the way. Whether Pinball Wizard or My Generation is your jam, you can rest assured they won’t deny fans the chance to hear the classic tunes live at Odyssey Arena on 21 June.

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Chart-topping champions

The Arena doesn’t neglect its Top 40 fans, either. Hip-hop legend and renowned showman Usher arrives this March for the Belfast leg of his new tour, The UR Experience. On 1 April, US rapper and singer Nicki Minaj will be cementing her title as one of the most pioneering R’n’B artists on the scene when she performs Anaconda, Superbass and Starships ​at the venue.

The irrepressible Take That are performing in May to promote their latest album, III. The Manchester hit-makers are performing as a trio for the first time since the departure of Jason Orange, but they haven’t lost their knack for soaring to the top of the pop charts – their newest album has already produced number one hit These Days. Known for arranging jaw-dropping spectacles at their concerts, fan won’t want to miss this new incarnation of the original “manband”.

Indie dreams

Ireland is world-renowned for its folk music, and in many of the smaller venues in Belfast you’ll be able to get a taste of what it’s all about. With haunting Uilleann pipes, tin whistles and fiddles, At First Light embrace the traditions of the Irish folk music scene. The band’s authentic sound and captivating tales have won high praise, and you can catch them this March in the atmospheric chamber of Duncairn Centre for Culture & Arts.

Fast-emerging Welsh four-piece rock band Catfish and the Bottlemen are playing the Limelight Complex this April. The band have been tipped for big things since playing at this summer’s Radio 1 Big Weekend, so now’s the perfect time to secure a space in the front row at a relatively intimate gig. Our Park Inn by Radisson, Belfast, just a four-minute stroll away from Limelight, is the perfect place to crash after a high-octane evening of fierce riffs.

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