By Chris Tate, Music Reporter
On Friday morning I switched on Radio 2, my usual morning ritual, to hear the new single by Take That. It will mark their first release as a trio since Jason Orange left little less than a month ago. This got me thinking. Is it really Take That? Can they justify releasing a new album under that name? Then I thought a little more, can you really blame them? Bands all over the world are still touring and releasing new material in unrecognisable forms to their original line ups. So, when does a band stop becoming a band and just become the face of a brand?
In 2011 I went to see David Crosby and Graham Nash live. It was billed as an evening with David Crosby and Graham Nash, not a Byrds gig, not a Hollies gig, not even a Crosby, Stills and Nash gig. The audience didn’t know what to expect, yet what we got was exactly what Crosby and Nash wanted to perform on the night, what they were 100% behind, what was in their blood. We got The Byrds, The Hollies and Crosby, Stills and Nash. And it was fantastic.
It seems that vintage bands are in higher demand these days than ever before. Why? Well, it would be a bold statement to say that bands from the last 20 years just don’t live up to their peers. After all, who knows which artists and groups we’ll still be itching to see in 2040. The issue though with ‘vintage’ bands is that, well, there have been losses to their line-ups. The Who are currently embarking on a new tour with only 50% of their original line up, Queen are touring with Adam Lambert of American Idol fame and the less said about Guns ’n Roses the better. But, it’s hard to argue when thousands of fans still pay upwards of £50 a ticket to see them. After all, money does talk.
Then does the blame lie with the fans? They pay the money to get a glimpse of their heroes, their idols, a taste of what use to be. If a gig markets itself as Queen, you expect to hear ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, ‘We Will Rock You’ and everything else off their ‘Greatest Hits’ album. If it was to market itself as Brian May and friends, would you be scared that you have a lecture on astronomy filled with drawn out guitar solos? You pay based on what you are promised.
Earlier this year Robert Plant played at Glastonbury. He was there to promote his new album, not Led Zeppelin. Just under 10,000 turned up to see him perform, and at the end, he threw in a couple of Zeppelin hits. ‘Whole Lotta Love’, performed live, with Robert Plant! Amazing. The only thing missing. Well, it’s wasn’t Led Zeppelin, it was Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters. If had he gone down the easy route, the marketable route, he could have been Led Zeppelin and had a crowd of tens of thousands eating out of his hand whilst headlining the festival. Remember the O2 gig on 2007, millions applied from all over the world to see Led Zeppelin, with only three out of four members. Here 9,900 saw the main guy play the big hits. The only thing missing? No promoter allowed to make millions out of him. Just an artist, still making music, doing what he wants to do and not what he feels he has to do.