Would You Pay To See Your Favorite Band Minus One (Or All) Of Its Key Members?

Jess Harvell | October 13, 2008 1:00 am

Judging by the amount of hits our post about new Journey frontman Arnel Pineda has received in the last year, classic bands replacing classic members remains a controversial subject among hardcore fans. The Washington Post takes a look at the 21st-century wave of reformed ’70s and ’80s hard rock bands who’ve replaced their singers to discover that (surprise!) “these bands are in the nostalgia business,” not willing to give up the tour and t-shirt gravy train just because the guy holding the microphone happened to quit or kick the bucket. Now while anyone should be able to enjoy a reconstituted Foreigner at their local amusement park amphitheater if that’s what gets their nostalgic rocks off, there was one quote in the Post‘s article that made us wonder: how many people paying $25 or $50 or $100 per ticket for big-name reunions would be just as happy catching a really boss cover band at their local sports bar for free? And will the same kind of nostalgia one day get you to pay big (or not so big) bucks to see your favorite band live, minus the voice that made it famous?

That desire to revisit the past led Catonsville’s David Warner and four friends to see Irish hard rock band Thin Lizzy a few years ago, roughly 20 years after lead singer Phil Lynott had died.

“It was a commemoration,” says the lawyer-turned-grad student. “I didn’t know who the lineup was. It was less about that than about, here was a band who was touring as Thin Lizzy and they’re playing all their songs. [Guitarist/now lead vocalist] John Sykes got it right. He sounds different than Phil, but it didn’t matter. ‘Jailbreak’ is ‘Jailbreak.’ “

Being 30 and reared on ’80s and ’90s pop/rock, I’m not really part of the audience for many of these reunions (though with the whole INXS debacle we’re getting closer), and I suspect a lot of Idolator’s readership is in the same demographic boat. But in ten or fifteen years I still can’t see queuing up for a Pulp tour featuring a 25-year-old Jarvis impersonator the other band members discovered on YouTube, or a reformed Jane’s Addiction fronted by a Staples employee who slogged through some reality TV show. Are there any recent-ish (let’s say the last 15 to 20 years) bands whose songs alone are enticement enough, to the point where you’d pay to see them live with a new frontperson? Or is this concept tied to the repeat-play heyday of “classic rock” and as alien to you as it is to me?

Feels Like The First Time, Sounds A Little Different [Washington Post]