Echo Chamber 02 – We’re Only In It For The Money (or how Rock n Roll became a cash cow)
There’s no getting away from it. One quick flick through the gig guides of any music magazine throws them up. You know what I’m on about…reunion tours and worse still, classic album shows. Every week another old hero of the pop chart dusts of his or her rickety guitar, decides that they are now relevant again, and sets off on a tour. All this is to the delight of hordes of gig goers who were never there in the first place (and to be honest, if they were…why go back? We all know it’s never going to be as good the second time). The money flows in, the fans are satiated for a need they didn’t know they had and everyone is happy…then why am I complaining?
In some respects I’m not really bothered. I have to admit this as it gave me the opportunity to see The Specials which turned out to be one of the best gigs of my life. I also went to see Saint Etienne performing ‘Foxbase Alpha’ which, again, was fantastic. I do believe though that it has now gone too far and the reason for this newfound point of view….The Farm.
Yes, there you have it…the straw that broke the hypothetical camel’s back…The Farm are back together playing their classic album ‘Spartacus’. Now forgive me if I’m wrong but wasn’t that their only album? I may be wrong there but I remember when it first came out and it was hardly a classic then. How many times over the ensuing years have you heard people talking about this album? I bet you can name them on one finger and that may have been with the re-release of their biggest hit ‘All Together Now’.
It’s not really their fault…it’s a bit unfair to aim my bile at them. If I was in The Farm and seen what was happening in the current music scene I would ring up my old mates and talk about doing it one last time. Having been out of the limelight for so long then why not top up their pension fund and get a little for themselves. If the people want to see it then why shouldn’t they. I’ll tell you why…to retain musical integrity.
It is this idea of musical integrity that fuels this argument. Whilst Saint Etienne never went away, the idea of them playing their classic debut album runs fine with me as they are also still in the process of releasing new albums. These sorts of gigs serve as a reminder to fans who may have dropped off that they are still around and maybe they will go and buy their new release….Yeah right! As if that is ever going to happen! They starts to slip into a sort of hyper-real Pontins scene where every night is 1992 and you can relive your youth. Forgive me if I’m wrong but isn’t music about the here and now?
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of nostalgia. It does us good to remember the old times. It brings a sense of warmth and a belonging in life back to us as we relive a time that through the means of rose tinted music seemed like such a good time. All this serves a purpose, to smooth over those memories of the shit nights off your head on ecstasy trying to ascertain whether you really like ‘Screamadelica’ or if it is just a bore. Do yourself a favour and pour yourself a vodka, put the CD on, and dance around your front room; don’t gamble £50 going to see if a bunch of aging lads can still cut it.
The biggest news of last year involved a seminal band of the 1990’s reforming. Yes, we all know by now that The Stone Roses are touring once again…are you all excited? Well don’t be…they were shit back then and will be an enormous let down this time. Musically The Roses were excellent, an almost perfect debut album followed by a wonderful fall from grace….rock n roll dreams are made of this. Years of rumours finally put to rest made a mockery of all former members’ entreaties that it would never happen. The reason for the re-union? “The time was right”…yeah, the time was right for the great cash cow in the sky to deliver you some money.
To counter this argument you may say “well, I never seen them first time around”. Granted, The Roses played very few gigs in their lifetime but let me tell you one thing…they were never actually that good live (for further proof go to an Ian Brown gig…what you can’t? Oh no, he’s back with his beloved mates again!). The events (as they are being called) will be a huge nostalgia filled evening where you won’t be able to hear the band due to drunken louts wired on cocaine hurling glasses of urine over the crowd whilst yelling out of tune to ‘I Am The Resurrection’. Indeed, it may be this song (which inevitably will close their set) which will provide the seething hordes with a chance to relive their forgotten youth (oh the irony here) and just like Jesus, rise up into heaven as one with each other.
As I said before, there is no real problem with this turn of fortunes in a bands life. What it does mean though is that the newer band may now look at music as a future career plan with thoughts heading to their twentieth anniversary. All this means that instead of concentrating on the now, they keep a steady eye on their future bank balances. Think of it like this…a band hits their peak, they make a follow up album that’s not as well received…well, that’s OK, they’ll split up then five years later make a comeback playing their “classic” album. It’s not really a good advert for career progression and riding the peaks and troughs of rock n roll.
One last thing that irks me about classic album gigs in particular. When I go to a gig I like to have a surprise and not know what is coming. Isn’t half the fun of a gig that moment when the band plays a song you didn’t think you would hear? It makes the evening special and you remember it as a moment out of the blue. That same song may be on the album they are playing that evening at one of these classic album shows but it certainly doesn’t have the same impact. You have already waited through three or four songs for it to start. This is what I found at one of Echo and the Bunnymen’s many interminable gigs playing ‘Ocean Rain’. As much as I love this band and I try to go and see them as often as possible I just wish that they would forgo this new craze and mix the set up a bit. I’m paying my money…don’t I count?
Posted by Martyn Coppack
Tags: Cash Cow, Martyn Coppack, nostalgia, Stone Roses