Monday, November 16, 2009

The Changing of the Guards Part One

While recently attending a Bruce Springsteen concert I started wondering how much longer I would be able to see this band perform live. Bruce is 60 and his always amazing saxophonist Clarence Clemons is pushing 70. How much longer will they be able to keep this up?

That started me thinking about other bands. I’ve always been able to see Bruce live. There wasn’t a time in my life when I was unable to see him perform. I can’t say that about the Doors, Led Zeppelin, or the Beatles. All were either split up or deceased by the time I was of age to attend concerts.

What bands are near the end of the line? What bands will my children not be able to see live in their lifetime and have to rely on stories from their parents explaining to them what it was like? What bands appear that they will live on and be playing in their 60s and 70s (ala the Stones and Bruce)? What bands are ready to take over and become the next big long thing?

In this three part series, I’m examining the bands that are on their way out, the bands that are in their prime, and the bands that are ready to take over the spotlight.

Part One: Bands Near Retirement

The Rolling Stones
Let’s face it, as great as these guys are, they can’t have much gas left in the tank. Even if they perform until the day they die, there’s no denying that Charlie Watts is over 70, Mick and Keith are in their mid- to late-60s, and the band has a lot of miles under their wheels. While there is no doubting the desire and urgency that Keith Richards feels to perform live, and there’s no arguing the fact that The Rolling Stones still sell out every world tour they go on. However, there is this one footnote: age is going to catch up with them soon. What do they have left? 10, perhaps 15 years? Their next tour could very well be their last.

The world waited 8 long years for the next AC/DC tour after the conclusion of the Stiff Upper Lip tour. Many fans (myself included) thought the band had hung up it for good. AC/DC is not the type of group that’s going to announce a big farewell tour (ala Ozzy or Kiss) they would just ride quietly into the sunset and call it a day. With Brian Johnson clocking in at over 60 years of age, and Angus and Malcom in their 50s, there can’t be a whole lot of time left for this band to keep bringing it every night. Sure, their idol Chuck Berry still performs well into his 80s, but will AC/DC be able to continue in that vein? They enjoy their time off (as the length between their last tour and this one proves). I believe there will be one more album/tour after the Black Ice run is over, but I think that will be the last one. And in true AC/DC fashion, nothing will ever be announced. The bottom line – catch these guys live while you can.

Bruce Springsteen & The E-Street Band
A recent interview with Steve Van Zandt hinted that Bruce and the boys were going to take some time off at the end of their current tour behind Working on a Dream. After they concluded The Rising tour, a lot of people, Clarence Clemons included, thought that it was the last time they would perform live together. They came storming back 4 years later with Magic and have been on a whirlwind ride ever since. However, with the recent passing of founding member Danny Federici, Clemons’ ailing health (knee, hip, and back problems), and the aging of the Boss himself (he hit 60 this past September) one has to wonder how much more desire there is to do this on such a large scale. Sure, Bruce and Clarence have stated they will perform music until they die, but it gets harder and harder to gear up for a world tour while sitting at home in the lap of luxury. And they deserve it. If Bruce and the band decided to call it quits tomorrow, no one could blame them. They’ve conquered all, they’ve done it all, and it would give them all time to write quite the biography. My expectations are that the next tour will be the last one with a huge 20 night stand at the IZOD center to end it all.

If these guys aren’t done, well, they’re pretty close to it. With band troubles rearing their ugly head again, rumors of Steven Tyler falling off the wagon, the cancellation of their last tour due to freak injuries and ailing health, and the latest news of Tyler quitting the band, this may very well be the final curtain for the bad boys from Boston. There is no word on when the recording of the new (still unfinished) album will resume. There is no mention of when there will be another tour. And Joe Perry is off promoting a solo record. Barring a huge, no-holds barred comeback (which I’m pulling for) this could be a quite unceremonious ending to one of the most storied bands in rock and roll history. That would be a real shame. You can’t ignore the health and the age of the band, however. With this recent falling apart, it could be all she wrote for Aerosmith.

While currently on a sold out tour promoting their latest album, Sonic Boom, it’s hard to imagine Kiss hanging it up and riding out their days on reality TV or writing books. However, the truth is this; the band has lost their luster. Paul Stanley can still deliver the goods (as he has proven on both his recent solo record and the new KISS album), but Gene is just not 100% invested anymore. He is a member that is just going through the motions. Add in that Peter and Ace are long gone and never returning, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer (while very talented in their own right) are nothing more than order takers, it spells the demise of my favorite band in the world. It’s a shame, and it’s a hard way to end an illustrious career, but this could be it. In 2000 KISS went on a farewell tour, and they might have been best served hanging it up at that point. It’s better to burn out than fade away. Unfortunately, KISS seems to be in the fading category.

Comments are open. Feel free to post some.

Tomorrow: Part Two – Bands In Their Prime

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