Back: The Rolling Stones.
Even though the touring landscape for 2014 is only half formed, with all kinds of possibilities up in the air for the second half of the year (Katy Perry? Paul McCartney? Daft Punk?), there is still more than enough scheduled to whet the appetites of music devotees.
Wednesday, January 22, Sidney Myer Music Bowl
Tickets: $99-$119, ticketmaster.com.au
With a new album, Reflektor, which is highlighted by intricate but sturdy rhythms that stretch their anthemic crescendos out into sustained grooves, alternative rock figureheads Arcade Fire are well suited to an outdoor show on a likely warm January evening.
Queens of the Stone Age.
Thursday, January 30, the Hi-Fi Melbourne
Tickets: $55, thehifi.com.au
If you want to make a case for the continued relevance of guitar, bass, drums and voice it's hard to look past this London quartet. On their debut album Silence Yourself, Savages find mysterious reason and galvanising fury in their stripped-down take on post-punk. With vocalist Jehnny Beth as the focus and guitarist Gemma Thompson as her deft foil, the group will be making their live debut in Melbourne.
Thursday, February 6, Palace Theatre
Tickets: $69.95, ticketek.com.au
All of 19 years old, Earl Sweatshirt was for too long the lost member of Los Angeles hip-hop collective Odd Future - while the likes of Tylor, the Creator and Frank Ocean were garnering attention, Earl, the son of an American law professor and a South African poet, was residing at a juvenile facility in Samoa. He announced himself with a solo album in 2013, Doris, which was hugely promising and may surpass colleagues.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Friday and Saturday, March 14-15, AAMI Park
Tickets: $98.50-$227.65, ticketek.com.au
Recharged by a new album, January 17's High Hopes, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band return to Melbourne almost 12 months to the day after a series of acclaimed gigs that many marked down as 2013's best. Melbourne-only bonus: a reformed Hunters & Collectors supporting the Boss.
Friday, March 1, Corner Hotel, Richmond
Tickets: $38, cornerhotel.com
A compelling concert performer, Dan Sultan has been threatening both greatness and a commercial breakthrough for more than a few years now, and if his forthcoming album does that then this may be the last chance to see him in a room the size of the Corner. The Melbourne musician's concise new single, Under Your Skin, is R&B-influenced rock.
Nine Inch Nails and Queens of the Stone Age
Friday and Saturday, March 14 and 15, Rod Laver Arena
Tickets: $105-$125, ticketek.com.au
Unlikely mutual admirers, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme combine their bands for this heavyweight alternative rock billing, contrasting clipped electronic-industrial tension and pummelling stoner-metal in their respective sets. Few double bills are so equally weighted.
The Rolling Stones
Friday, March 28, Rod Laver Arena
Tickets: $197.95 to $578.25, ticketek.com.au
Dan Sultan and the Bangarra Dancers.
Sunday, March 30, Hanging Rock Reserve
Tickets: $153.10-$576.60, ticketmaster.com.au
Start them up: Mick, Keef, Charlie and Ronnie, aka the Greatest Rock & Roll Band in the World, return to Australia for their first tour in eight years. There will be a new stage set, classics such as Gimme Shelter and Jumpin' Jack Flash, and a nod to their distant blues-infatuated youth. Is this your last chance to see them? It's about 50/50.
Saturday, April 19, Melbourne Recital Centre
Tickets: $50-$95, melbournerecital.com.au
One of the great New York singer-songwriters, Suzanne Vega's (pictured) writing has included books and a stage production over the last decade, but with her first album in seven years - Tales From the Realm of the Queens of Pentacles - due next month she's back on the road. Expect a new identity for the likes of Luka, Marlene on the Wall and Blood Makes Noise.
Aaron Neville and Dr John and the Nite Trippers
Monday, April 21, Hamer Hall, Melbourne Arts Centre
Tickets: $107.20-$272.20, ticketmaster.com.au
Aaron Neville, on his first solo tour of Australia, brings one of the great voices in popular music, while the equally long-serving and often incantatory Dr John peaked again with one of 2013's most acclaimed albums, Locked Down.
Friday, May 9, Rod Laver Arena
Tickets: $99.95, ticketek.com.au
Five albums in eight years demonstrate the drive and creative spark of Arctic Monkeys main man Alex Turner, but it's the English four-piece's evolution that shows their march towards greatness.
If you want to maximise your band-seeing allocation, then it's an all-day outdoor festival (and sunscreen) for you. Four perennials to consider:
The Big Day Out
(Friday, January 24, Flemington Racecourse, $185-$285)
With Pearl Jam, Arcade Fire, Flume, the Drones, the Hives, the 1975.
Saturday, February 1, Footscray Community Arts Centre, $150.
With Lorde, the Jezabels, Chvrches, Jagwar Ma, Warpaint.
Saturday to Monday, March 8-10, Meredith Supernatural Amphitheatre, $319.
With Public Enemy, Yo La Tengo, Neko Case, Cosmic Psychos, Flying Lotus.
Future Music Festival
Sunday, March 9, Flemington Racecourse, $171-$351.
With Deadmau5, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Phoenix, Rudimental, Eric Prydz.
PLEASE NOTE: quoted ticket prices do not include booking fees and other charges.