Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Keep it real?

Tribute bands fascinate me. I’ve always been a bit of a sniffy music ponce about the whole thing and generally avoided them like the plague. It’s as naff as hell and cheapens the music right? It’s a joke, a washed out pale imitation of the real thing? It’s the preserve of people who buy supermarket cola and shop at Matalan eh? Hmmmm maybe that’s all still true, but I had a bit of a revelation last weekend.

There are, of course, two distinct breeds of tribute bands. On the one hand there are tributes to bands or artists who simply ain’t around to tour anymore...either due to the fact that they’ve split up (see The Smiths Indeed for instance) or inconveniently shuffled off this mortal coil (see any one of the billions of Elvi...if that’s the plural of Elvis). Then there are the tributes who provide a cut price Poundland alternative to actual touring acts (see the Kings Ov Leon, the Blings or Leon or even the Kins of Leon...and nope, I’m not making any of those up). Given that genuine Kings of Leon tickets cost around £60 a pop you can see the appeal (or not as the case may be). On Saturday I was mulling all this over whilst watching Absolute Bowie in Birmingham City Centre (at the St George’s Day Festival). I guess Absolute Bowie kind of straddle the two camps. Given his dodgy ticker I can’t see ol’ Dave playing live much ever again so if you want to hear the songs as nature intended this could well be your only chance. Having seen the man himself at Glasto a few years back I was able to make a bit of a comparison and, well, they were pretty impressive, giving an affectionate, professional and faithful recreation of some of the Dame’s greatest hits. This in turn led me to idly wonder if any tribute bands are actually BETTER that their originals? Given Jim Morrison’s legendary drug intake for example does Wild Child (one of many Doors tribute bands) do the songs more justice than the lizard king and co? It’s possible...

We need one of those bods from that annoying BBC science series on the case...Doctor Yan or whatever his name is. I’m sure he’s more than capable of reanimating Morrison’s corpse for a Doors ‘battle royale’. In the meantime (and somewhat more realistically) if anyone has seen both an original band and their corresponding tribute act recently I’d be intrigued to know how they stacked up against each other.

PS: There’s now an entire festival dedicated (mainly) to tribute bands called Glastonbudget. Genius! It’s all happening at Turnpost Farm, Leicestershire 27th – 29th May 2011 and it looks like huge fun. I’m betting Guns 2 Roses will be a whole lot better than Axl’s current incarnation too...

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