Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tribute Bands

Tribute bands are against my religion.

So why, then, do I intend to go and see one?

It is Gary Mullen and The Works - One Night of Queen. A British tribute band who intend to recreate the stage show of Queen with a singer who won a TV talent quest.

Reading over the sentence above, it fills me with horror. TV talent shows. Tribute band. *shudder*

So what is the problem here? First, let's examine the opposition.

I am opposed to the idea of a tribute band because I feel that a band usually contains talented musicians that, by rights, should be trying to further the cause of popular music by writing their own material and developing their own style. Slavishly imitating another band seems like a cynical marketing ploy, especially when said original band(s) is still performing. Mind you, if I was in a phenomenally successful band and there was a tribute act imitating my work the performance royalties due to me would be welcome, but I would hate to be losing ticket sales to an imitation act.

The case in point was some years ago (mid-1990s I think) where a Cold Chisel tribute band were playing in one suburban pub, while a few doors up on the same street, in another pub Ian Moss was playing. The tribute band show outsold the band's original guitarist gig by a factor of three-to-one. If there was any justice in the world, it would have been the other way around.

So, why have I caved into this? And after all, Queen + Adam Lambert are touring Australia later this year.

Reason #1: Adam Lambert is NOT Freddie Mercury.
How can you replace an icon? Especially one so fundamentally integral to Queen? And even the original bass player, John Deacon, won't tour with them, so really you're only getting half the original band. And also, I'm not a big fan of Lambert's voice. And Gary Mullen has an uncanny vocal similarity to Freddie, which brings me to...

Reason #2: This is as close to seeing Freddie Mercury live as I'm ever going to get in my lifetime.
Queen never toured Australia in a time when I could have seen them, so this will have to do, I guess. Even Peter Freestone, former personal assistant of Freddie, has admitted this that is as close as you will ever get to seeing Fred in the flesh. High praise indeed. http://www.beat.com.au/arts/one-night-queen

Reason #3: It's pure escapism.
And it's nostalgic. This is the reason I think most people would opt for a tribute band as opposed to seeing one or two members of the original act. Sure, they'll both play the same songs, but will the experience be the same?

Reason #4: It's cheaper.
$80 a ticket vs. anywhere from $200-$1200+ for Queen/Adam Lambert.

After Freddie Mercury died, Queen did the right thing and took their time before they decided to go back out on tour with another singer. They did, however, sow the seeds for future tours and records by billing themselves as Queen+ to indicate that there are other people filling the role of frontman. Record releases as far back as 1992's "Five Live" have been billed like that. Queen's 1999 release "Greatest Hits III" had a number of songs that were billed Queen+ because they featured other vocalists, so in a way it was inevitable that they would go back out on tour with someone else behind the microphone.

But again I come back to the question: "How do you replace an icon"? I'm not sure if I could bring myself to see an iconic band with a less-than-iconic substitute singer.

Maybe I should go anyway so I can compare and contrast the imitation with the real thing.

Until next time...

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