This summer, as with every summer in recent memory, the rock re-unions are adding up and cashing in. Being perhaps the biggest fan of rock on the planet, I want to set some ground rules about what constitutes an acceptable 'reunion'.
Firstly, no replacing people who are alive and fine. This goes for the Cars, Journey, Styx, and to a different degree... Van Halen. Actually, Van Halen re-unions are their own unique sub-category here, like G$R. More than just pissing me off, the market bears this out. Ask Motley Crue, who tried it without Vince Neil. Ask Ratt. Ask Anthrax, who unloaded Joey Belladonna for years. Ask Van Halen (remember Gary Cherone phase?).
Oh yeah, this rule goes especially for a lead singer. I do not want to hear another review of the new Journey were someone tells me 'this guy sounds so close to Steve Perry, it's like he is more Steve Perry than Steve Perry'. Guess what, fuck off. I didn't grow up listening to a guy who sounds like Steve Perry. The Smashing Pumpkins are out touring this summer as reunited. However, only half the band will be there. Though arguably those two are the principles of the band... this could technically be called a Zwan reunion.
So what is allowed? Replacing dead guys. The Grateful Dead went through five keyboardists. Five! They are all dead except one... the original. How is that for irony? I keep hearing rumors of the mighty Zeppelin reuniting this summer. Well, it won't be this summer because it is already this summer... and that would be the biggest publicity stunt in the history of music. In fact, if they were touring for 2008 we would know about it by now. Still, though, Zeppelin can call themselves that as long as they bring back John Paul Jones.
So what about Genesis, then? Well, I grew up during the Phil Collins years, so I don't really care about Peter Gabriel. Still, he should be a part. What the hell has he done in the last ten years? So, can you replace total, complete, and epically toxic assholes? Let's call this the David Lee Roth clause. If that was allowed, we would actually have to call Velvet Revolver by it's real name... Guns$Roses. So no, you can not. Ok, do you have to let Dave Mustaine play with Metallica now? No, because he isn't on a single recording and the band never broke up.
Lastly, let's discuss ticket prices. I can't. I am so pissed off about ticket prices that I very very rarely go see concerts anymore. $300 for the Police? Fuck you, Sting. Remember when Pearl Jam went to congress about ten years ago to keep their prices under $20? The last tour I saw cost me $100 a ticket. Keep in mind that the minimum wage hasn't budged. Know what minimum wage was when I last saw the Police? It was $3.35, and Police tickets were $12. For comparison purposes, four hours of labor would get you a Police ticket. Now, minimum wage is $5.15 and tickets are $250. Today I would have to work 48 hours to get same ticket. Plus, these basketball arenas everyone plays in sound terrible. For $250 I better get to sit on Sting's lap.
So, can you reunite if the singer is dead? Tough call. I would have to go case by case on that. I like how the Grateful Dead handled it. Without Jerry, they traveled as just 'the Dead'. I think that was a classy way to acknowledge their past... but understand it isn't the same without Jerry. Plus, the Dead traveled with all the original dudes who are still alive (you guessed it, a loaner keyboarding was thrown in). Also, Dead tix were only about $75 each. That isn't much, when you consider they have a minimum of six dudes onstage.
Just a year ago, I was writing with outrage about $97 tickets.. It seems like a naive and quaint time... like how we complained about $2 gas. Those were the days, kiddies.
So, how does a discussion on reunions become a diatribe on ticket prices? Easy, how could it not? I am tired of getting raped by greedy bands, promoters, and of course Ticketbastard. Now you know why we all have to steal our music from the internet, we can't afford to buy both CDs and tickets. At least with tickets, some money goes to the band.