Back in my college days I attended a Broadway musical about felines at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia. It was, shall we say… different. Apparently, demand was so high at home base (i.e. the real Broadway in New York City), they took the show on the road to make a few more bucks.
My question then was: Am I seeing the official starting lineup from New York or am I seeing a bunch of scrub stand-ins? I have no idea, since they wore costumes and their singing abilities seemed to be top notch. I guess it didn’t matter, it was officially sanctioned. Therefore, I could say I experienced Cats (if I really wanted to admit being there).
Welcome to the Grand illusion
Come on in and see what’s happening
Pay the price, get your tickets for the show
The stage is set, the band starts playing…
“The Grand Illusion” – Styx
This summer, I’ve seen friends on Facebook post status updates from several concerts, including Boston, Styx, and Foreigner (Styx and Foreigner are touring together). I also know Journey and Skynyrd are on their summer tours. My question now is: Should these bands be calling themselves by these names? For the most part, I don’t think so.
Why you ask? Simple. These bands do not have their original lead singers (or at least the singer who was the lead when they made their mark), and in some cases, less than one third of the original members. Many of these bands haven’t even put out a new album in years (another pet peeve for perhaps another post one day). They just tour the summer amphitheater circuit every summer.
Sure, these bands show up and play the music spot on, but when you pay upwards of $125 per ticket to see Boston, are you really getting Boston if Brad Delp isn’t the lead singer? He committed suicide in 2007. What about Styx without Dennis DeYoung? Do they even have a pianist who can nail the intro to “Come Sail Away”? Do they even play it?
I submit to you that bands should have to follow a flowchart decision tree to decide if they can tour under the original band name. They’d start with simply ‘Have you lost any band members?’ If they answer ‘No’, then they can tour under the original name. If they answer ‘Yes’, then they’d be asked additional questions related to which member died, number of original members left, and so on. The tree would then lead to a decision on whether the band can have the original name.
If the final decision comes up ‘No’ then they would have to label their concert tour The [Insert Band Name Here] Experience, as in The Lynyrd Skynyrd Experience. This way, you’ll know it is the music you want to hear, just not quite all the original members. To soothe some egos, you could add a “featuring” subtitle as in The Styx Experience featuring Tommy Shaw. Heck, they could even create a musical around the songs. Maybe that’s what they did with the Queen Broadway musical We are the Champions. I don’t know. I didn’t look it up.
This idea would be like taking that old Broadway show on the road. Yes, it may not be all original members, but it would be sanctioned by the record label and you’d get a quality product. The tickets should also be cheaper. They could even have east and west coast troupes. I believe Trans Siberian Orchestra does something similar. They have a short window to get their gigs in, the Christmas season, so I think they have two different bands.
So what do you think? For those of you that saw concerts this summer with “incomplete” line ups, did you feel short changed? Feel free to leave comments below.
PS. Thanks to all you voted in last week’s poll to name my chameleon. The winning name is…