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By Alex Kealy
Last week one of our writers suggested that the phenomenon of nostalgia has gone far enough and that modern music has become lost under a swell of reunited bands and reissued material. Clearly this writer was not up at the horrendous hour that is nine in the morning to book tickets to Pulp as I was mere weeks ago. And so now I stand up for the wonder that is reuniting bands performing together.
Firstly, and it seems rather shameful for a music journalist to say this, for the most part modern music is pretty shit. Our piece on the best albums of 2010 might have suggested that modern music is wonderful but frankly finding the great music this year has meant trawling through a pile of what at best amounts to the collective failings of the artistic community, whether they be the disappointments that have emerged from Interpol and M.I.A or the sheer, unadulterated bollocks that has been the work of Kings of Leon.
But what does all this have to do with reunions I do not hear you ask. Well one of the great joys of all these reunited band is it actually gives fans the chance to see some truly incredible music before their eyes. Over the past decade Pixies, Blur, Led Zeppelin, The Specials, My Bloody Valentine and Suede have reunited for various numbers of gigs.
Of course what these reunions offer is the chance to experience all these groups that you never got to see the first time around. Yet an argument made by those who do not care for reunions tends to be that ‘it’s just not the same as last time’ or ‘they’re only doing it for the money.’ As for whether it is as good to see bands when they are forty and a bit fatter than before, I tend to wonder whether these people have actually been to any of those gigs. Anyone who was at Glastonbury in 2009 will probably have seen indefatigable proof that reformations matter. As Damon Albarn, renowned for being a difficult, cold, emotionless twat, broke down into tears after ‘To The End’ you could see what this reunion meant to the band.
For groups like Led Zepellin and The Specials, whose careers ended so abruptly, this represents a chance for closure, a chance to bring their time in the band to a more natural conclusion. As for those people complaining about the money, again this just is not a problem. I know that Leonard Cohen needs the money; that is why I buy a ticket. These artists have probably done enough to earn the right to milk their back catalogue for as much as they can get.
But as I said previously what matters most about reunions is that they are giving fans what they want. Festival organisers will continue to pay obscene sums to reunited bands (supposedly Coachella offered The Smiths $1 million to reunite) because they know that this is what fans want. And it is not just the middle class, middle aged fans who seem to be attracted to these gigs. To suggest that, with the entire world of music at people’s fingertips, they will not be listening to such inspirational groups whatever their age seems unlikely.
And as much as people might complain about the concept of bands reuniting, that does not stop people getting excited when another band comes back together. And here we come to the long overdue return of Pulp. Like their contemporaries Suede, their disbandment after the under-rated We Love Life was greeted with a collective shrug. Yet Jarvis Cocker’s return has been rapturously received and they deserve a chance to bask in the glory of a public that adores them. And whilst the songs Pulp will be playing may last have been hits when many of you were mere whippersnappers, I for one am delighted that this band has joined the tidal wave of great groups giving another generation of fans the chance to experience their brilliance.