Not even a month in, and 2016 is already shaping up to be an epic and potentially record-setting year for concerts in Montréal. Names like Bieber, Rihanna, Santana, Adele and Céline, to name a few, feature prominently among the slew of A-list pop, rock, metal and indie artists slated to visit the city’s premiere large-capacity entertainment venue, the Bell Centre (the second busiest amphitheatre in Canada).
The following represent some of the biggest and best on deck at the Bell Centre in 2016:
Black Sabbath, February 23 Why not begin with “The End”? England’s Black Sabbath gave birth to a variant of rock that would become one of the most resonant (in more ways than one) genres of music ever: heavy metal. Now with the aptly titled “The End: The Final Tour by the Greatest Metal Band of All Time,” Black Sabbath bids fans farewell with a tour that “promises to surpass all previous tours.”
Death Cab for Cutie and Metric, March 19 Black horn-rimmed glasses alert! Indie rock royalty pass the crown around when Toronto’s Metric (touring their latest, Pagans in Vegas) share the stage with Bellingham, Washington’s Death Cab for Cutie (supporting new album KINTSUGI) for the co-headlining “Lights on the Horizon” tour.
Heart and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, March 21 Long before Beyoncé’s famous observation, Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Heart (known for huge hits like Crazy on You and Barracuda) and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (I Love Rock’n’Roll and Crimson and Clover) were proving that girls do indeed run the world. The “Queens of Sheba” tour unites these pioneering rockers.
Iron Maiden, April 1 When heavy metal legends Iron Maiden finish their upcoming “Book of Souls World Tour,” they’ll have flown their custom Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet Ed Force One (named for corpse-like band mascot Eddie and piloted by singer Bruce Dickinson) over 55,000 miles around the world to some 35 countries.
Diana Ross, April 4 Fresh off two sold-out concerts at the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal this past July, R&B/soul icon and former lead singer of chart-topping ’60s trio The Supremes, Diana Ross, returns to Montréal to perform her Motown classics Stop! In the Name of Love, Where Did Our Love Go, You Keep Me Hangin’ On and more. In a word, wow.
Rihanna, April 6 and 7 Hard to say what’s more impressive/unbelievable: the fact that R&B/pop star Rihanna has sold more than 210 million digital tracks worldwide, making her the top-selling digital artist of all time (!), or that she has over 81 million Facebook friends. Something to think about when you’re under your um-ba-rella hey, hey, hey.
Duran Duran, April 11 Eighties pop stars Duran Duran have, beyond all concept of logic and reason, not only aged ridiculously well in the years since first crazy catchy hits like Girls on Film, Hungry Like the Wolf and New Moon on Monday, they can still fill arenas with a smokin’ live show, this time for latest album Paper Gods.
Santana, April 19 Their enormous, continued popularity borders on the, you could say, Supernatural. Since their first Top 10 hit in 1969, Evil Ways, Afro-Latin-blues-rock phenomenon Santana have sold more than 100 million albums and played in front of an equal number of fans. Concertgoers can count on hearing hits from 1999’s nine Grammy Award-winning Supernatural.
Justin Bieber, May 16 Justin Bieber has an answer to anyone who ever wondered if he had a Purpose. In fact, songs like What Do You Mean?, off recently released fourth record Purpose, are racking up more number ones than the bathroom after a beer drinking contest. The “Purpose World Tour” could just as easily have been called the “In Your Face, Haters” tour.
Selena Gomez, May 26 It’s only fair that Bieber ex Selena Gomez gets a shot at upstaging him on the same stage just 10 days later. The multi-platinum dance-pop singer and actress has moved on, and that includes her worldwide “Revival Tour,” her first since the sold out 2013 “Stars Dance Tour.”
Florence + The Machine, June 8 So how was 2015 for U.K. indie-pop outfit Florence + The Machine? Well, let’s see: third album How Big How Blue How Beautiful went to #1 in the U.S. and it’s nominated for five Grammys. Florence + The Machine and guests Of Monsters And Men return to Montréal after enthralling audiences at Osheaga this past summer.
The Cure, June 14 Enduring and endearing British goth-rock icons The Cure, known for very generous concerts, return to the Bell Centre, their first appearance there since a mind-blowing 2008 show. This time around they’re promising “37 years of Cure songs, mixing hits, rarities, favourites and as yet unreleased tracks in a brand new stage production.”
Sting and Peter Gabriel, July 5 These two titans of radio rock need no introduction, least of all to each other: they first toured together in the ’80s in support of Amnesty International. The upcoming “Rock Paper Scissors” tour will see Sting and Gabriel performing both separately and together, each playing their own hits as well as putting their bands together for some of their most celebrated songs.
Céline Dion, July 31 to August 17 The recent passing of husband René Angélil will almost certainly add an extra layer of emotion to what would have already been an emotional return to her native Québec. Dion will perform a series of ten Bell Centre concerts.
Adele, September 30 and October 1 Is there anyone who doesn’t like Adele? We all know the answer to that, which is why her two concerts in support of her just-dropped bombshell release 25, which went straight to number one in over 100 countries, are some of the hottest tickets in town. It’s her first North American tour in five years, so do what you gotta do.