Beck and Grace Jones have been confirmed as the headliners for the return of the Auckland City Limits music festival.

Also performing at next year's Western Springs event are French acts Phoenix and Justice, as well as The Avalanches, The Libertines, and reformed Kiwi garage-rockers The D4.

Backing up the March 3 bill is Peking Duk, Tash Sultana, George Ezra, Thundercat, The Head and the Heart, and a local line-up of artists including Aaradhna, Head Like a Hole, Katchafire and SWIDT.

Promoter Campbell Smith promises a festival line-up of music, food, drink and activities that's bigger and better than the first.


"I'm happy with what we've got," he says. "I think it's going to go really well."

It's pleasing news for anyone disappointed when the festival cancelled its 2017 event, following a successful 2016 debut attended by 25,000 that included performances by Kendrick Lamar and The National.

Beck will be playing on the back of his summery new album Colors, and it will be his first trip here in more than 20 years.

He'll be coming on the back of a recent opening slot for U2, and he told the Herald his set veered around some of his biggest and best hits.

"There are certain ones that are feeling good this year ... songs like Loser, Where It's At, E-Pro, those songs continue to just be in the set all the time," he says.

"We play a mix of lesser known things and the things all the fans know."

Beck will headline Auckland City Limits in March. Photo/Getty
Beck will headline Auckland City Limits in March. Photo/Getty

At the age of 69, Grace Jones will be on her first tour of New Zealand, and has already sold out a sideshow in Queenstown.

Smith, formerly of the Big Day Out, said he wasn't happy with how the 2017 event was shaping up and pulled it because "it wouldn't have done us justice".


"The second one (is) in many ways it's more important than the first. You constantly want to be making these things better, not just saying, 'Well, that's good enough'."

ACL re-enters a heated live music scene, with an international act playing, on average, every two days over the summer months, including big names like Drake, Ed Sheeran, Foo Fighters, Sia, Bruno Mars, Lorde, Mariah Carey and Harry Styles.

Read more: One big gig every two days - why summer is stuffed full of music

It also faces competition from other festivals, including New Year's events Northern Bass and Wondergarden, as well as summer festivals like Laneway, Splore and Bay Dreams.

Smith says ACL delivers a "fresher and broader" experience, with festival-goers expecting more than just watching "50 bands on a stage while eating hot dogs and chips" these days.

"It is much more about, 'What other things can I do with my day? Can I eat well? Can I take my kids? Are there other activations on the site?'" he says.

"You have to raise the bar. We have a long term vision for this. They're pretty grand ambitions but I feel pretty good about achieving them.

"This will be another step."

Phoenix will perform at Auckland City Limits in March. Photo/Getty
Phoenix will perform at Auckland City Limits in March. Photo/Getty

A second line-up of artists, as well as other art, food and activities around the site, will be confirmed before the end of the year.

Earlybird tickets for ACL will cost $179.90 and go on sale on November 1. A pre-sale begins on October 30.

The full line-up:

Grace Jones
Peking Duk
Tash Sultana
George Ezra
The Libertines
The Head and the Heart
The Avalanches
Oh Wonder
The D4
Car Seat Headrest
The Staves
Head Like a Hole
Drax Project