The Beatles are so much part of everyday music history and we credit them with changing the face of popular music that we forget that it’s a simple pun that gave them their name. This blog is a homage to that forgotten pun, as I become a musical pundit, not necessarily as an expert but simply because I can say I punned it! If you expect the puns to get better don’t read on this is a long and winding road. I know I should let it be but with a little help from my friends we can work it out and if we let them into our hearts we can make them better… (I told you it wouldn’t get any better!!)
Well, it was gig 17, you know what I mean and I’m watching The Fab Beatles! My excuse? I’m on holiday in Devon, it’s Sunday afternoon, the sun is struggling to shine and it’s free!
So it’s confession time – lighters in the air anyone else who has seen a tribute band! I will admit I have seen a couple before. The Bootleg Beatles, who were just a night out in the student union back in my under-grad days at Hull (at this point you would be forgiven for thinking I am a massive Beatles fan as two out of three of the tribute bands I’ve seen are Beatles tributes, but I’m not nah nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah) and The Musical Box.
The Musical Box, a Genesis tribute act, were a much more conscious decision than either of the two Beatles tribute act gigs I’ve been to! My excuse was that I never had the opportunity to see Genesis in the best era of their career, the Gabriel era. So a tribute band was the only way I would ever be able to experience a little of what it must have been like to see Gabriel in his ‘slipperman’ outfit pushing back the boundaries of what would become known as multi-media. However, as interesting as it was for an avid Genesis fan too young to have experienced Gabriel, it was not a wonderful gig, just a simple reenactment with some other guy playing the role of my hero.
Let sleeping acts lie…
So tribute band - yes or no? Despite my confessions, on the whole, I would say no! If it was 20 years ago today that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play and the band has long since split then you should probably let sleeping acts lie!
Unlike classical music, live performance of popular music has become firmly wedded to the composers and that has built in a life span when it comes to performance. If the original band splits, so the chance to see the songs performed live is, generally, lost. It is this marriage and ultimate divorce that has spawned the tribute band – people want to get back to where they once belonged before the bird had flown or simply experience what they had missed! So if I kind of get a tribute act of a band that no longer tour, I certainly can’t understand tribute acts for artists who are still performing!
You’re back again – no no no not a second time…
However, the tribute band is now under treat as yesterday’s bands have realised there is money to be made in their own nostalgia, and so the tribute band is being replaced by the reunion tour! Yesterday, all those bands seemed so far away, now it looks as if they’re here to stay, Oh they believe in yesterday. Tribute band or reunion tour I still can’t help feeling that a band and its live performance are always of its time. If I missed it because I was too young, not hip enough, or too broke to see them I can’t recapture that now!
When going to a gig I will always aim to catch the support act. On the one hand I want to discover new music, and on the other I want to brag about seeing them before they were famous! Whilst albums can be enjoyed and rediscovered 30 years on, the thrill of catching a band live at the height or - even better - just before the height, of their fame and power is very much part of the experience and however good the tribute act or reunion tour may be nothing can recapture, replace or relive the first time round because little darling, its seems like years since they’re been here. I am much more jealous of a colleague who saw Led Zeppelin live in Birmingham with a handful of people before they were famous than my friend who got tickets to the 2007 reunion gig!
I can hear them this time…
Yet, I’m still at this gig. Not because it’s a Beatles tribute act, but simply because it’s a free performance on a Sunday afternoon at a local theatre in an English seaside holiday town. I’m not even a daytripper I’m here all week - thank you very much! What a fabulous initiative by The Exmouth Pavilion the place is full and its proper family entertainment. Yes, there is a grandmother who had seen The Beatles in their heyday and there are children young enough to be Paul or Ringo’s great-grandchildren but everyone is having a great time. People are singing along, dancing (there is something in the way they move) and so the band is not allowed to leave the stage until they have exhausted their Beatles repertoire. This is Devon at its best, this is English summer holiday at it best – you don’t need a settled climate to have holiday fun!
Asked if there is any difference from the original, the lady who was there in the 60’s replies with a grin, ‘yes I can hear them this time!’ The Beatles’ grandchildren’s generation don’t care - baby they don’t care, if the suits, boots and hairstyles are authentic or if the Hofner Bass is a copy or real this is live music and they are loving it.
Those of us caught somewhere in between are happy to be entertained. The band are as tight as the mop top wigs they wear and they are playing songs we know all the words to. They have made a real effort to look the part and it’s all adding up to a lovely Sunday afternoon. No, I wouldn’t want every gig to be like this but it’s a gig that’s guaranteed to raise a smile, so may I introduce to you the act you’ve know for all these years….
The Fab Beatles
Gig: 17 of 50Date of Gig: Sun. 23rd August 2015
The Fab Beatles
Running total of artists seen 39