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Brian RobertsonWho actually enjoys going to reunion gigs?  Why do they do it?  What’s the motivation?  I’m not talking about going to see Neil Young or Bruce Springsteen, because they never actually went away in the first place.  I’m not even talking about the 60s and 70s bands that have been on the nostalgia circuit so long that it’s the day job now.  But some of the bands that have crawled out of the woodwork recently…

Look at some of the bands touring on the nostalgia ticket at the moment and you’ll see what I mean.  Versions of The New York Dolls and The Stranglers are touring at the moment, Iggy Pop toured last year and it’s only a few years since the Sex Pistols graced us with their live presence.  This might come as a surprise, but these reunions don’t happen because the guys miss each other so much that they’re desperate to share the toilet on a tour bus again.  No, it’s about transferring as much of your wedge into their pockets as they possibly can and with the minimum possible effort.

Fans of these bands watched them in the 70s because they were dark, unpredictable and sometimes brilliant.  They won’t ever be like that again; not when Iggy Pop’s selling insurance (now that’s ironic) and John Lydon’s selling dairy products.  You can even buy an authorised Sex Pistols perfume and you don’t even want to think about how that smells.  But it’s not just the money that bothers me; if punters are willing to part with their beer tokens to be taken back to their youth, you can understand why musicians want to help move that cash into the back pockets of their leather trousers.

There are bands that you should be embarrassed to admit you liked in the 70s, so why should you pay to see them now?  As a teenage boy in the 70’s, three things ensured total celibacy; hair, clothes and carrying a Yes album under your arm (any album would do, but the “Yessongs” triple was an absolute guarantee).  Why would you want to be reminded of your teenage sexual failures by watching the same band 35 years later?  Just imagine the queue at the stage door as fat, balding men wait with their green pens to get autographs on their grossly overpriced memorabilia?

It gets worse, though.  What about the reunions that are part reunion, part tribute band, starting with Thin Lizzy?  There was a classic line-up in the mid-70s of Phil Lynott, Brian Downey, Brian Robertson and Scott Gorham.  Even the ones without the green pens can add those up and get 4 people.  From that line-up, you could replace Robertson with Gary Moore and just about get away with it, but that’s not an option any more.  And you can’t replace Phil Lynott.  The band currently touring as Thin Lizzy has 6 members including 2 originals (Downey and Gorham) and various other out of work rockers.  That’s 6 reasons for listening to “Live and Dangerous” instead of paying to watch the musical equivalent of Burke and Hare.

Lee Brilleaux

And finally, the Drifters award for fidelity to the original line-up goes to Dr Feelgood.  The original singer, Lee Brilleaux, died in 1994 but all of the other original members (including John Mayo, who replaced Wilko Johnson in 1977) are still alive.  How many of them are in the current Dr Feelgood line-up?  Absolutely right, none.  Now, I know Manchester United aren’t playing any of the same players that they used in the 70s, but they aren’t playing “Back In the Night” or “Roxette” either.  Go out and see Wilko instead, he’s always good value. 

You’ve got the old vinyl or CDs; listen to them.  Watch BBC4 on Friday nights.  Go out and listen to new bands.  Just don’t pay to see old hacks doing tired, lazy play-by-numbers versions of your teenage rebellion soundtrack.