It’s about the songs, not the band.
It started with Journey. The voice of the act, Steve Perry, didn’t want to work, he needed an operation, so the rest of the act went on the road without him, with a bunch of faceless singers, doing reasonable business. Then they found a replica of Steve’s voice online, and then business started to increase to the point where they’re playing stadiums this summer, with Def Leppard.
Foreigner not only goes on the road without Lou Gramm, but sans Mick Jones sometimes too.
And then Glenn Frey dies and the Eagles not only reunite, their grosses are bigger than ever!
What’s going on?
When your hits are behind you, it’s all about the money. No one’s got enough. And touring gives purpose to your life. And there’s nowhere you can get that kind of adulation, that hit of adrenaline, other than on stage.
But shouldn’t the audience balk?
They did not when all the fifties acts toured with a group of faceless performers not in the original incarnation.
It’s an oldies phenomenon, after the thrill is gone, the cult of personality, the adoration, the laughter and the tears, all that is left is the songs and the memories. And it turns out many can’t get enough of them.
Ergo the tribute acts. Doing a bang-up imitation of Led Zeppelin and so many more.
As long as it sounds close enough to what once was, and it includes some patina of originality, people are in. After all, the Mac toured without Christine McVie for years and played arenas. They’ve proven in the past the act has a hard time surviving without Stevie Nicks, but if god forbid she passed and Grace Potter took her spot, or Lorde…
Queen tours with Adam Lambert.
We could speculate on the cause of this. Then again, it’s been Lindsey’s band from day one, and he’s been irascible. Of course, of course, it was Fleetwood and McVie’s band, but they could play theatres without Lindsey and Stevie and therefore they let Lindsey control the act. And when the noose gets too tight and there are alternatives…
The truth is these acts are riddled with personality problems, all that bonds the members is the music. Would you want to hang forever with your high school buddies? That’s what it’s like. Furthermore, artists are uncompromised, it’s their edges that made them successful, and they don’t know how to trim them. You’d tell them just to get along, but then again, you could never be in the act.
And the act does include Lindsey’s soloing. But the seventies are over, the audience doesn’t want to hear virtuosos extend, they just want the songs, they just want to nod their heads and sing along. And Lindsey’s vocals have oftentimes been…
So now you’ve got Mike Campbell, whose ability rivals Lindsey’s, although his sound is different, and Neil Finn comes back from the dead, in this case New Zealand, to demonstrate the chops which never fully got the praise they deserved.
And if you don’t think Vince Gill brought the Eagles to new heights…
You haven’t seen them.
This news would have been revolutionary in the seventies, even the eighties, but today it’s another blip on the radar screen. Fleetwood Mac has long since surrendered the zeitgeist to the younger generation. Hell, the McVie/Buckingham album got no traction. That’s what it’s like being an aged act doing new music in today’s cacophonous world.
So now YOU’RE Fleetwood Mac. When you go to the show and sing along with your head in the air it’s about you, not the people on stage. You’re long in the tooth, remembering when, feeling good for the moment, that’s what you pays your money for and if you want to see these people in the flesh, go soon, because they’re not gonna be around much longer.
But the songs remain the same.