If last year in London was the year of the athlete, then 2013 is shaping up as the year of the rock ‘n’ roll star, with all manner of rock gods, punk upstarts, alt-kings and rapidly rising newcomers ready to take to the city’s stages. 

Up first on our rundown of the must-not-miss shows are alt-rockers Biffy Clyro.

Making the step up to festival headliners last year with their main stage triumph at Download, they had previously been hunkered down in Los Angeles for the best part of two years, writing and recording their sixth album, this January’s double disc Opposites. 

“Basically the remit was that nothing is too crazy or mental to try,” drummer Ben Johnston recalls of the no-holds-barred approach that went into the ambitious LP.

Mariachi bands and bagpipe refrains abound as they took this mantra and ran with it. 

“The real challenge is doing that while maintaining the sound of the band and the identity you’ve built up over several records,” adds his brother and bassist James.

The boys from Ayr, Scotland, made a name for themselves with jagged, time- and key-switching records before fifth LP, Puzzle, in 2007 saw them embrace a more mainstream sound – a British Foo Fighters, in a way.

They followed this with Only Revolutions (2009), with Opposites closing out their trilogy of big rock records and hitting the number one spot in the UK album charts, too.

“They are very personal [records],” says frontman Simon Neil, of the intimacy behind the arena riffs.

“They’re about discovering what life is about – all the highs and lows of what being an adult entails. But you have to keep giving yourself new challenges.

“Even when Only Revolutions came out, if you said we’d make a double album next I’d say that’s ridiculous. You never know what life’s going to throw at you and inspire you to do.”

Fittingly, to close this chapter they play their biggest ever London show at The O2 and will headline the Reading and Leeds Festival in August, too. 

While rock behemoths including The Boss and The Stone Roses will be taking turns rocking London’s crowds as well, there are smaller shows you’d be a fool to miss.

Chvrches are one act you’ll be hearing more of in the months to come. Formed in 2011, the synth-pop trio – Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty – found the kind of immediate fanfare and acclaim that comes around rarely, and in their case it is deserved. 

“We were really surprised,” singer Mayberry told BBC Radio 1’s Ally McCrae of their quick-fire success.

“We just put it [debut single Lies] out as a preview track or a free download to test the water and see what people were thinking and it grew from that.” 

Follow-up single The Mother That We Share became as furiously embraced as their first.

They then graced the BBC’s Sound of 2013 list and their under construction debut album is one of this year’s most hotly anticipated.

They’ve an upcoming show at Village Underground, are at Field Day and will be cropping up on festival bills over the next few months. 

So embrace London’s big year for music – it’s going to well and truly rock! 

Biffy Clyro. The O2.
Apr 3. £22.50  SE10 0DX  
Tube | North Greenwich  

Chvrches. East Village.
Apr 29. £14  EC2A 3PQ  
Tube | Old Street  


More big London gigs >>

Green Day – Emirates Stadium

Frontman for the San Francisco punk rockers, Billie Joe Armstrong, stormed off stage at a show in Las Vegas last year because, he ranted, everyone thought he was just another Justin Bieber (or something like that).

He’s sorted his shit out though and is now back on the road with Mike and Tre.

He will stop in town for this London mega-show in support of last year’s trio of new LPs, Uno!, Dos!, Tre!. You can bet they’ll throw in a couple of old Dookie and American Idiot faves, too.

£45, June 1, 4.30pm 
Drayton Park, N5 1BU  
Tube | Arsenal  

The Killers – Wembley Stadium

The Las Vegas boys burst out of the blocks with their world-conquering debut, Hot Fuss, went all E-Street with follow up Sam’s Town, and it is the open road rhetoric and chest-thumping anthems of their sophomore that latest and fourth LP, Battle Born, is closest to.

Killers classics Bones, Human, Runaways and Mr Brightside are just made for west London’s mega-stadium. 

£35, Jun 29, 5pm 
Empire Way, HA9 0WS  
Tube | Wembley Park  


The Postal Service – Brixton Academy

Dntel’s Jimmy Tamborello and Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard (above) made 2003’s electro-pop Give Up by sending recordings to each other (hence the name) unaware they were making a soon-to-be bona fide classic.

Adored then, revered now, they’ve got together to celebrate its 10-year anniversary with a handful of shows.

This could be the first and last time to see the Service live.

£22.50+, May 19 & 20, 7pm 
211 Stockwell Rd, SW9 9SL  
Tube | Brixton  


Karl Hyde – Union Chapel

Half of techno legends and Olympics-soundtrackers Underworld plays this sure to be sublime show in support of his debut solo LP, Edgeland. 

£25+, Apr 25, 7pm N1 2XD  
Tube | Highbury & Islington 

The xx – Osterley Park and House

Mercury Prize winners who followed up their victory with an even more beguiling sophomore LP, Coexist, and dodged the award’s short-lived success curse (Klaxons who?).

This is the third of three events (after Lisbon and Berlin) they headline with an all-day line-up.

£48.50, Jun 23, 12pm TW7 4RB  
Station | Isleworth 


The Stone Roses – Finsbury Park

It was the reunion everyone was waiting for.

The elusive new material’s still out of reach, but that’s not really what we want to hear anyway from the kings of baggy.

£55, Jun 7 & 8, 4pm N4 2NQ  
Tube | Manor House 

Kings of Leon – The O2

The southern rockers who shaved their beards and immediately went interstellar huge (we’re not saying the two are connected) play these two shows after a two-year hiatus – their last record, Come Around Sundown, was out three years ago.

They should be suitably pumped then.

£50, Jun 12 & 13, 6.30pm SE10 0DX  
Tube | North Greenwich 

Muse – Emirates Stadium

Back in their angsty early days, it would have been hard to imagine these three Devon lads as one of the planet’s biggest bands – but that’s what they are.

Latest LP The 2nd Law is full of their epic stadium rock, with a few tweaks and flourishes round the edges to keep it fresh.

£54+, May 25 & 26, 4.30pm 
Drayton Park, N5 1BU  
Tube | Arsenal  

Rihanna – Twickenham Stadium

The umbrella-loving, clothes-hating pop siren brings her world-conquering Diamonds World Tour to town.

£50+, Jun 15 & 16, 7pm TW2 7BA  
Station | Twickenham 

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Alexandra Palace

The New York art-punk-rockers, lead by trailblazer Karen O (above), have been away too long.

Fourth album Mosquito is out April 15, and they head up the massive line-up for the first day of two ATP I’ll Be Your Mirror all-dayers at picturesque Ally Pally. 

£59 per day
May 4, 11am N22 7AY  
Station | Alexandra Palace 

Lana del Rey – Hammersmith Apollo

She went mega instantly with her sultry, dangerous single Video Games, then followed it up with a stunning debut album, Born To Die, and proved  to everyone she was more than just a pretty picture with a load of shows last year.

Still effortlessly cool, despite doing ads for H&M.

£25+, May 19 & 20, 7pm W6 9QH  
Tube | Hammersmith  


Depeche Mode – The O2

The boys who made electro music dark and sexy have outlived their Eighties contemporaries, evolving into a perennial stadium electro-rock act.

Expect Personal Jesus, Enjoy The Silence and more. We just can’t get enough!

£50+, May 28 & 29, 7pm SE10 0DX  
Tube | North Greenwich 


Eric Clapton – Royal Albert Hall

Eric and Albert have been putting on legendary shows together for donkeys years – expect epic back catalogue-dipping sets, special guests and totally ninja guitar skills.

£50+, May 17-26, 7pm SW7 2AP  
Tube | South Kensington 

Tame Impala – Hammersmith Apollo

Psychedelic-rock is a tough thing to do in 2013, especially when everyone out there is discovering their own inner love of Eighties synths.

But Perth superstars Impala do it with such verve they’ve quickly become one of the most distinct, exciting bands of the moment.

It’s no wonder their second LP Lonerism featured heavily in critics’ top albums of 2012 lists. Hometown heroes to cherish!

£19.50, June 25, 7pm W6 9QH  
Tube | Hammersmith  

The Breeders – The Forum

Pixies bassist Kim Deal’s side project penned a Nineties indie-rock classic with Cannonball. Their Last Splash album is now 20 years old, and they’re playing it in full.

£27.50, June 19, 7pm NW5 1JY  
Tube | Kentish Town  

Alicia Keys – The O2

She’s played for President Barack Obama, got 16 Grammys at home on her mantelpiece, dueted with Jay-Z and possesses one of the finest, most beautiful voices that has ever graced the planet.

When she sings, you take notice, as thousands will over the course of her two-night London residency.

£45+, May 30 & 31, 7pm SE10 0DX  
Tube | North Greenwich 


Happy Mondays – The Forum

Anything Ian Brown and John Squire can do, Shaun and Bez from the Mondays can do just as well.

Reunited, touring the old tunes, their autumn gigs last year went down so well they’re doing it again. Time to get that Kinky Afro on!

£32.50, Jun 29, 8pm NW5 1JY  
Tube | Kentish Town  


Noah and the Whale – Palace Theatre

The other nu-folk band to come out of south London, Noah and his cohorts play this fancy-pants West End show drawing from their three-album career, including 2010’s Last Night On Earth. 

£26.50, April 28, 7pm W1D 8AY  
Tube | Leicester Square 

Bruce Springsteen – Wembley Stadium

Unfazed by having the plug pulled on his Hyde Park show last year, Brucie returns to the UK with his E Street Band for two shows, at Wembley and the Queen Elizabeth Park, the latter rechristened from the Olympics (June 30).

The torch bearer for arena rock, there’s a reason why he’s called The Boss. 

£50+, Jun 15, 12pm HA9 0WS  
Tube | Wembley Park 

Smashing Pumpkins – Wembley Arena

There’s only one original Pumpkin left, Billy Corgan, but at least it’s the one who matters.
And when he’s tearing into Bullet With Butterfly Wings who gives a shit?

£43.25+, Jul 22, 7pm HA9 0PA  
Tube | Wembley Park 


The Vaccines – The O2

From ‘next big things’ to ‘very big things’, the foursome have climbed quickly, and they duck into Greenwich’s little old dome to show off their indie-rock tunes from their debut, What Did You Expect From The Vaccines, and its follow up, Come Of Age. They like career commentary.

£26, May 2, 6.30pm 
Peninsula Square, SE10 0DX  
Tube | North Greenwich  

Photos: Getty