Rockers We Want to See Back in 2023

The way the music popularity pendulum has swung in recent times, rock and roll is on the backburner in favor of country pop, dance, hip-hop and K-pop are way ahead. In fact, if there were a backburner to the backburner, loud guitars and heavy-footed drums would be there.

Upstarts like Greta Van Fleet, Thundermother and Dirty Honey are all rising in popularity, but it’s not like they’re ready to headline stadiums. To wit, it’s up to the old guard to give a bit of nudge to get the genre back near the forefront. And what better place to do so than at one or more of the plethora of music festivals around the country?

At press time, music fans were still awaiting the lineup to be announced for this year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. If it hasn’t been revealed as you read this, it’s coming very soon, as are many other destination fests. Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tenn. will unveil its artists next Tuesday. New York’s Governors Ball, Boston Calling, Lollapalooza in Chicago and many, many more will follow and with the announcements the question will be answered, “who will be the big reunions of the year?”

While Rock Music Menu could come up with an improbable wish list, the reality is Led Zeppelin will never be coming around again. Neither is Pink Floyd. Black Sabbath is likely done too. But there are a handful of legacy acts, rockers who promised over and over they would never take the stage again and those who thankfully got out of the game before the expiration date.

Below are some that we would like to wake up one morning soon and see as one of the headliners to a major music festival in 2023.


The last time AC/DC performed live was at the Wells Fargo Center in 2016 with Axl Rose at the mic. Earlier in the tour, Brian Johnson had been unceremoniously booted to the curb when hearing issues led to doctors ordering him to cease performing immediately. Bassist Cliff Williams had already announced he was retiring at the end of the trek and drummer Phil Rudd wasn’t even able to tour as he was under house arrest in New Zealand for a bunch of messy troubles with the law.

Any potentially hurt feelings, legal troubles, etc. have long subsided, and the band returned in 2020 with one of their strongest LPs of the Johnson era in “Power Up,” with Rudd and Williams onboard too. The coronavirus pandemic made hitting the road at the time impossible, but now? Well, 2023 is the 50th anniversary of the group and it should be celebrated with — at the very least — some headlining slots at festivals and maybe some major market appearances.


“Once we’re done with our reunion tour, that’s it for The Police.” That’s what Sting said in the midst of his band’s overtly cash-grab reunion run that ran from 2007 through 2008. It had been some two decades since the notoriously fractious new wave/post-punk act had called it a day then and now we’re 15 years from that statement. About time to reconvene again and restuff the old coffers — no?



Back in 2011, college rock legends R.E.M. just weren’t as popular, relevant or whatever one wants to call it, so they mutually decided to throw in the towel. Nobody hated each other, and there were still more than enough die-hard fans to keep it going, but the band rightfully didn’t want to become a nostalgia act.

Frontman Michael Stipe pointedly said as recently as 2021 that a reunion wasn’t in the cards, so it could still be too soon. Stranger things have gone down unexpectedly in music, so let’s keep an eye on the Athens, Ga. modern rockers. No sense in fans losing their religion over it just yet.


Enough already with this nonsense. Since breaking up in 1996, brothers Ray and Dave Davies have teased the idea of getting back together under the Kinks banner with both of them publicly being more than amenable to it. Dave said last year he is “optimistic” about it. Ray revealed in 2019 the sibling rivalry had cooled enough that the pair were in the studio working on new material he was dubbing “Project Kinks.”

OK, so let’s get it on; Ray is 78 and Dave turns a not-exactly-spry 76 in a few weeks. We all want to come dancing again with one of the most influential outfits of the mid-60s British Invasion.


Sure, hard rockers, Skid Row are still a functioning unit. But there’s a big difference between playing casinos with a singer three-quarters of the audience can’t name and having Sebastian Bach fronting the New Jersey act. Given how many boatloads of moneybags the remaining members have turned down to reunite with him, it seems Bach must be pretty difficult to deal with on a regular basis.

Then again, since Bach split in 1996 and the band picked up the pieces three years later, they have gone through three singers and are currently on their fourth, who won the Swedish version of “American Idol.” It’s become a joke at this point. Sadly, the music the Row is putting out is really solid, but it’s well below the mainstream radar without the classic lineup intact. Egos need to be put aside, say it’s for the fans, justify any way it needs to be done, but just make it happen.

A version of this article appears in this week’s print and online editions of my syndicated Rock Music Menu column under the title “Rockers that everyone wants to see back in 2023.”

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