Thursday, January 24, 2008

'COME TOGETHER' (sorry, John)

Here is a recent post that I think puts the whole subject of rock and roll reunions in perspective. It doesn't just focus on Led zeppelin, but I still think it is relevant to the subject of this blog, so enjoy:

Cameron Adams
January 24, 2008 12:00am

THIS year is shaping up to be one of the reunion, but is it love or money driving these rock legends to team up after swearing they would never meet again?

Rock icons Led Zeppelin are having a blank cheque waved at them for a possible world tour.

The Police are reportedly pocketing $1 million -- each -- for every concert on their comeback tour.

Even the Spice Girls have proved nostalgia needs to stretch back only 10 years to be lucrative.
We-never-thought-we'd-see-the-day re-formation tours by the Smashing Pumpkins, the Jesus and Mary Chain and Rage Against the Machine will visit Australia soon.

The Verve, Genesis, Van Halen (with original singer David Lee Roth), My Bloody Valentine and the Spice Girls are all rumoured to be visiting our shores this year.

They join the long list of this decade's re-formed bands -- from Take That to Crowded House, the Pixies and Guns N' Roses.

But what drives these reunions? Is it love or money? Or both?

Time is a great healer to get a band - even if they've become bitter enemies -- back together, and a hefty wad of cash doesn't hurt.

The Police reunion, a surprise to the band as much as the world who'd watched their acrimonious split, is generating them $160 million for about 114 shows. The tour has sold 1.5 million tickets worldwide.

However, the three weren't exactly down to their last few dollars.

Ed Bicknell, one-time manager of Dire Straits and now head of the music division of the powerful William Morris Agency, believes the Police reunion was partly inspired by "getting back together with your mates, the camaraderie''.

However, he mentioned a certain seven-figure lure.

"I doubt any of these acts would have got back together had there not been a significant financial pay-off. I can't imagine Sting and Stewart Copeland are doing it out of some kind of 'it's for the art, man' attitude.''

Sting contacted his formerly estranged bandmates Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers last year, and they leapt aboard the reunion.

"The thing is we are good medicine for each other and, in spite of everything, we recognise that,'' Copeland told the Herald Sun.

However, though they've labelled the greatest-hits tour "unfinished business'', the band have not confirmed whether the reunion will result in a new Police album.

Summers is coy about their plans.

"Well, we don't have to wonder if we're going to do a reunion tour. We did it,'' Summers told the Herald Sun before cryptically adding: "Should we go on or not? We've played our a---s off and there have been some very high moments on this tour.''

They could well follow the rock reunion blueprint set by the Eagles.

The soft-rock pioneers reunited in 1994 for the two-year Hell Freezes Over world tour, which grossed more than $200 million. Last year their first all-new studio album since 1979, Long Road Out of Eden, went to No.1.

Phil Collins was honest when talking about the Genesis reunion.

"We're all loaded enough to not worry about where the next million or two comes from,'' Collins said when announcing the tour in 2006.

The Spice Girls' reunion tour was planned to make each member $25 million in a deal that involved concerts, sponsorship, merchandise and a documentary. That was before demand saw the initial 11 shows extend to 53 so far. Sources claim the girls will get $1 million each a show if they tour Australia.

"We're not doing this for the money,'' Victoria Beckham said last year. "We're doing it because we want to do it. We're in a privileged position to be able to choose whether to or not to do something. And it's not ladylike to talk about money.''

Last year, a million fans registered for 20,000 tickets to Led Zeppelin's reunion show in December. Promoters are waiting to see if the band will embark on a world tour.

"So many special acts have been re-forming, but Led Zeppelin would be the ultimate,'' promoter Michael Gudinski told the Herald Sun. "They could play the biggest stadiums available. There are not only the original fans, but a whole new young audience. Every young rock kid has heard of Led Zeppelin.''

Paul Cashmere, who runs music website, agrees these rock re-formations highlight a void in today's music scene.

"The Police and Led Zep are now beasts that can no longer be created in the current music-industry mentality,'' Cashmere says.

"These are acts who grew by being nurtured and were allowed to develop in front of a live audience. The kids today love these acts as much as their parents do because nothing has come along to replace them.

"It looks like the renaissance of the music industry was from the Beatles to Nirvana,'' Cashmere says. "People still painted after the Renaissance, but there were no more da Vincis.

"There's an element of nostalgia, but music is always new to the person hearing it for the first time. To a 15-year-old, Led Zeppelin is new music. At that level, it all comes down to quality.''

There's money in nostalgia. The Rolling Stones earned $500 million for their 2005-6 A Bigger Bang tour.

Bruce Springsteen has never stopped touring as a solo act, but touring with the E Street band brand is a licence to print money.

Their tour for The Rising album in 2002-03 earned more than $250 million. A global tour for the Magic album continues until July, and promoters are trying to lure the Boss to Australia.

Nothing eases tension like cash. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel re-formed in 1993, ending one of the most-discussed feuds in music. They reportedly made $1.1 million each, and earned more than $100 million for shows in 2003 and 2004.

A reunion this year is rumoured.

The Divinyls split in 1997 with bandmates Christina Amphlett and Mark McEntee no longer speaking.

Their volatile relationship resulted in the band's 2007 reunion tour being filmed for a documentary that wound up on Sunrise. The band release a new album this year, after a December tour of greatest hits rather than new material.

Some bands insist on recording new material before re-forming.

Neil Finn was working on a solo album that morphed into a new Crowded House album after Nick Seymour added some bass guitar.

Of course, the canny Finn understood the power of the Crowded House brand internationally.

Their reunion album, Time on Earth, fell between the cracks on radio. They didn't fit the demographics of Top 40 stations, and the stations with older listeners were happy to keep playing Don't Dream it's Over.

Finn, who'd taken part in a sell-out Split Enz reunion, tempered new material with hits for Crowded House's world tour last year.

Original line-ups re-forming are a huge carrot for music fans.

After dwindling record sales, Duran Duran were down to two original members before they re-formed their original five-piece line-up in 2001.

It wasn't such good news for Warren Cuccurullo, who'd replaced original guitarist Andy Taylor in 1986. He was fired by letter in 2001.

David Lee Roth left Van Halen to go solo in 1985. After a string of replacement singers, he's back and in the middle of a US tour.

The Verve have reassembled for a new album, and in Australia the Baby Animals, the Black Sorrows and Noiseworks are back together.

Some bands don't need to bother hunting down original members. Axl Rose owns the Guns N' Roses name and still fills stadiums with a new line-up in which he is the only original member.

The band have never split, but have been musically dormant since a 1993 covers album.

Even death need not stop a band reuniting. INXS have had a revolving door of singers since the passing of Michael Hutchence in 1997.

They hired J.D. Fortune through reality-TV show Rock Star: INXS, and gained a new lease on life with a world tour and new album.

Queen have been touring with singer Paul Rodgers since 2005. Brian May and Roger Taylor are the only remaining original members. They're recording a new album.

Similarly, the Doors are touring as Riders on the Storm. Original drummer John Densmore has not taken part in the reunion and has legally prevented Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger from using the Doors name. Former Fuel singer Brett Scallions is their new frontman.

Ironically, Ian Astbury quit Riders on the Storm last year to re-form his previous band, the Cult.

Solo careers are the death of a band, yet can also be the birth of a reunion. Egos ended the Spice Girls, but each scored a solo deal. By last year, each had lost her record deal.

Nothing gets a band back together like a failed solo career -- or five.

The only Spice Girl who could sell records by herself, Melanie Chisholm, had always held out on re-forming the band. She changed her mind last year.

"There is just so much great feeling out there,'' Chisholm said. `I didn't want to be the one who stopped it happening or stopped it being a five-piece.''

Solo success, or lack thereof, is the reason the Backstreet Boys reunited and 'N Sync never will.

"It seems like a time and place that can't be recreated,'' Justin Timberlake told the Herald Sun last year about an 'N Sync reunion. ``Timing is everything. I think we'd be forcing it''.

The Backstreet Boys showed that forcing it has a cost.

Their 2005 "comeback'' album, Never Gone, scored a few hits and a nostalgia-fuelled world tour.

But by 2007 they'd lost Kevin Richardson and millions of fans when their second comeback album, Unbreakable, flopped globally.

In the UK, boy band Take That have not only re-formed, but their comeback album Beautiful World has become the biggest seller of their career, selling 1.5 million in the UK and two million internationally.

They've toured the UK and Europe twice within two years, and Beautiful World comprehensively outsold Rudebox, the most recent album of one-time member Robbie Williams.

On the other hand, showing the lack of loyalty in pop, '90s rivals East 17 re-formed in 2006 after songwriter Tony had Mortimer quit the band in 1997. However, after only one show, Mortimer quit again.

Likewise, UK girl group All Saints re-formed in 2006 after years of slagging each other after their bitter split in 2001. However, after each of the girls lost her solo deal, hey presto, All Saints were back together.

Comeback single Rock Steady made No.3 in the UK, but their album, Studio 1, stalled at No.40 and they were dumped by label EMI.

A few bands still can't be bought.

Pink Floyd reunited at Live8 in 2005. David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright hadn't shared a stage in 24 years.

Floyd are at the top of top promoters' wish lists the world over by virtue of the fact that, as with Led Zep, their back catalogue wins new fans each year.

Waters has toured as a solo artist playing Dark Side of the Moon in full, but the band turned down a post-Live8 offer to tour the world for $290 million. In 2006 Gilmour even issued a statement on behalf of the band confirming they had no plans to reunite.

Morrissey refused to re-form the Smiths for an offer of nearly $120 million and a deal that meant he need have only Johnny Marr in the new line-up, not the other members he's fallen out with.

"It's been 18 years since it ended. I don't know them, they don't know me,'' Morrissey said of a potential Smiths reunion in 2006.

"Anything I know about them is unpleasant, so why on earth do we want to be on stage together making music? I'd rather eat my own testicles than re-form the Smiths, and, for a vegetarian, that's saying something.''

Shaun Ryder is touring a new version of the Happy Mondays, but Ian Brown refuses to reunite his band the Stone Roses.

ABBA turned down a $1 billion offer to re-form in 2000.

"It's a hell of a lot of money to say no to,'' ABBA's Benny Andersson said, "but we decided it wasn't for us.''

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