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Expect a Nirvana reunion in 2009

After posting that last entry about the Queen "Reunion", I started wondering why I was so particularly hostile to this one when other band reunions either don't bother me at all or arouse my enthusiasm. I wasn't bothered by The Pixies' reunion, for the simple reason that they never did that much for me, and I was very keen, five years ago, to go and see the legendary Dutch pop group Doe Maar in concert when they reformed. And let's not even go into my abiding love for Deep Purple...

Part of the reason why I roll my eyes at the notion of a Queen reunion, though, is precisely that I do remember the Doe Maar reunion. They reformed, 15 years after they split, with the line-up they had at the time they split, and made a big event of it. They put out an album that got more critical acclaim than any of the albums they'd put out in the eighties, when they were a teeny-bopper phenomenon of Beatle-esque proportions. They announced a string of concerts in Ahoy' in Rotterdam, which sold out as soon as tickets went on sale. Then, for the fans who'd missed out on tickets for the big concerts, they lined up a string of warm-up concerts in smaller venues. With military precision, my friends and I landed tickets for the second Ahoy' date. We had a blast going there, surrounded by an audience packed with 30-year-old teenagers, singing along to every word. A live CD and DVD followed. It was all fun and exciting, and in the end, it signified nothing. By late 2000, the studio album was in the ultra-remaindered bins everywhere, followed soon enough by the live album. The new material lacked the staying power of the old, and eventually became a bit irritating to listen to. This is what will happen to "Queen" even if they do release an album of new material.
Deep Purple, on the other hand, managed to confer upon their 1984 album Perfect Strangers a classic status similar to that of their early 1970s albums, but they could only do so by becoming an ongoing concern again, playing that material for years along with the other classic songs. It takes dedication, and the ability to strike a balance. Focus on new material right after a personnel stage, then the old stuff again the next year. And the only reason they could work at it for so long after reuniting was that they were only in their late thirties/early forties in 1984. That seemed an advanced age at the time, but as it turned out, it wasn't, really. Brian May and co. are now pushing 60, and it's just too much to expect that they'll be plugging their stuff for another 20 years.
One difference that I thought existed between the Deep Purple reunion on the one hand and the Doe Maar and "Queen" reunions on the other was the amount of time between the original split and the reunion. Deep Purple had only been split up for 8 years. However, the actual line-up that reunited had been split for 12 years, which is pretty close to the 13 years since Freddie Mercury's passing, or the 15 years after the Doe Maar split, or the 14 or so years since the Pixies split (how much exactly?). The reason why reunions happen when they do probably has a lot to do with the demographics of the fanbase: bands reform when the kids who missed out on them the first time are about to turn thirty. At that time, most of them have jobs, a steady income and a settled lifestyle *), but as yet no serious adult responsibilities - the babies haven't started eating them out of the house yet. And the first wave of nostalgia hits them, hard, so they start playing the records of their formative years again, they start writing serious, philosophical essays comparing the legacies of Nirvana and Pearl Jam using words they probably didn't know when they were 16, so it doesn't look as nerdy.
Using the 15-year gap between split and reunion as a ballpark timespan, we can expect a Nirvana reunion around the year 2009. By then Krist Novocelic and Dave Grohl will have convinced the public that they did have a hand in writing the classic Nirvana material after all, legitimising a reunion without Cobain, and they will have formed a pool of respected professionals from their own generation, one of whom will accidentally turn out to have "great chemistry" while playing with them at some public event or other. The reunion will be more similar to that of Doe Maar than Deep Purple and will be very profitable indeed. Last chance to see - not the last chance for any of us to see the legend in performance, but the last chance for them to suck the lint out of thirty-year-old teenagers' pockets.

*) Not me, personally, obviously. Not in 1999 and not now. But people, generally speaking.

Comments (9)

Dan.e:

The Pixies split somewhere in 1992 I think, so that's about 12 years. So what about the Eagles' reunion? :-)

The first Eagles reunion in 1994 was dead on schedule.

Dan.e:

And then we got Europe's reunion as well this year. There must be something to those 14 odd years.. Hmmm, wouldn't that be about the time required for the record companies primary age group-target to grow up without knowing there's been a reunion of some sorts? :-)

Dan.e:

Should be an interesting topic for Nostradijkhuis to shine his light on: Band reunions to happen in 2005 :-) Let's see... Two Unlimited? Technotronic? Wheeee :-)

I think it's the time it takes the record company's primary target group to become record company executives.

cmkaapjes:

Don't forget Judas Priest and the Scorpions touring together this year ;)

Uh, I think I will, if you don't mind.

Dan.e:

And WASP & Saxon 'headlining' at Wacken Open Air

Garth Wallace:

How about a Winger reunion?

Winger broke up, right?

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