Old School Jams
As festival season comes to a close, music fans are beginning to filter into arenas for the fall's mega tours. The top 40 bands are not the only ones, though—across the country, hit-makers from decades past are taking the stage for shows that make a sold-out House of Blues crowd look like a high school talent show. So with classic names like Neil Young and Fleetwood Mac heading to the Hub, the question must be raised: who still has it?
Formed in 1967, Fleetwood Mac has not shied from drama. With no less than 11 former members, Fleetwood Mac’s namesakes, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, are the only two members to have remained for the life of the band. However, the most notable is the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame-inducted 1975 lineup of Mick Fleetwood, John and Christine McVie, Lindsey Buckingham, and, the Queen herself, Stevie Nicks. This group recorded the milestone albums Fleetwood Mac and Rumours, with the latter being one of the highest-selling albums of all time. In 1985, they released Live In Boston, which was recorded at the now-closed Boston Tea Party. Success, however, does not mean everything was Little House on the Prairie for the band—as is typical when everyone is married to each other. After many years of quitting and getting back together, the band officially dissolved in 1995.
Of course, no one thought that would last for long. In 1997, they reunited for a single concert, which turned into a tour, which turned into an album. Christine McVie left again, and no one was shocked. What did shock, though, was the record-breaking $84 million-grossing arena tour that the band did in 2009. In 2013, Stevie Nicks told Rolling Stone that there was “more of a chance of an asteroid hitting the Earth” than Christine McVie reuniting with the band. So where are they now? Back to touring with Christine McVie, of course. When they perform at TD Garden on Oct. 10 and 25, fans will be treated to hits such as “Dreams,” “Rhiannon,” “Landslide,” “Go Your Own Way,” “You Make Loving Fun,” and “Never Going Back Again,” —to name a few. Fans should not be disappointed, either; according to Las Vegas Weekly, Fleetwood Mac’s live shows remain “authentic,” and maintain “the conviction behind each song, renewed and recast in context of the band’s emotional evolution.”
Also appearing in Boston this month is the beloved singer-songwriter Neil Young. A veteran of such timeless bands as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Buffalo Springfield, as well as a stunning solo career, the Canadian has carved a place in rock and roll history. His musical career began with Buffalo Springfield in 1966, a band most famous for their classic protest song “For What It’s Worth” (a song required to be played in every single movie about the ‘60s, ever. Seriously, if you don’t recognize the title, go look it up.) Young has two Grammy’s, has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice (once for his solo work and once with Buffalo Springfield), is on Rolling Stone’s list of greatest artists of all time and greatest guitarists of all time, and he gets name-dropped in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” He’s a little bit of an overachiever.
Though he has faded in and out of the spotlight since the 1960s, Young has never really stopped making music. Oh yeah, except for that time that he had a brain aneurism in 2005. No big deal, though, he was back to touring a few months later. Known for being incredibly political (again…Buffalo Springfield), Young co-founded Farm Aid with Willie Nelson and still writes protest songs. Sorry, mom, not everyone grows out of that. As for his legacy as a performer, a January 2014 Rolling Stone headline says it all: “Neil Young Stuns With a Spellbinding Carnegie Hall Show.” Young will be performing to a sold-out audience at the Wang Theatre in Boston on Oct. 5 and 6, so good luck getting tickets.
Rolling Stone ranked Neil Young the number five “Best Band To See Live in 2013,” but what other classic artists are worth seeing? It will come to no surprise that Bruce Springsteen was number one, as “the Boss” is a known showstopper and a critical piece to any classic music lover’s concert bucket list. Among the other notable acts are The Rolling Stones, Rush, Paul McCartney, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Each of these musicians has maintained their memorable sounds and still know how to please the crowd. Some artists have taken a new twist to their shows, such as the Eagles’ “History of the Eagles” tour. Taking a chronological approach to their hits, the band takes the time to explain the history of the band in between songs and showcase the talents of each member. It gives audience members a chance to enjoy the contributions made by each member of the band as well as a better understanding of where the hits fit into the band’s timeline. Other aged rockers, such as Gregg Allman of Allman Brothers Band fame, take a more sterile approach. The small, unassuming man (still touting his trademark ponytail) strolls onto the stage every night and performs a string of hits with little introduction or pause in between, quietly thanking the audience afterwards and departing. Some artists have used recent tours as a way to revive their careers and spark interest in the younger generations, while others are letting the cover bands do all the work for them.
Some artists are gone forever, and some bands swear they are never, ever getting back together. This leaves us with famous cover acts, some that are three-fourths of the original bands, and solo acts still touring. When it comes to cover bands, The Australian Pink Floyd Show (most commonly known as Australian Pink Floyd) is the obvious go-to. They have been touring since 1988, and have dedicated their lives to perfectly recreating the renowned Pink Floyd concert experience. They are doing pretty well, too, considering they have played at the famous O2 Arena in London and specifically requested to play at the 50th birthday party of David Gilmour—as in the original guitarist for Pink Floyd. Some bands are still around, minus a few members. Fleetwood Mac toured successfully minus Christine McVie for years, still selling out arenas all over the world. Similarly, Crosby, Stills & Nash has had a strong run without “Young” at the end, while Neil has enjoyed success on his own. Solo artists can also be seen performing their band’s hits. The most shining example of this is Roger Waters, founder and singer of Pink Floyd. He has had two massively successful tours for both The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, performing the albums in their entirety with class Pink Floyd showmanship.
However, the current generation is one obsessed with modernity, where the next big thing is already too mainstream. There is no room for old music when you are trying to catch everyone before they are big, so classic music doesn’t appeal to many millennials. However, it is important to recognize what many of these artists bring to the table. Not only do they have massive commercial success backing them (come on, there is a reason that they have greatest hits albums older than you are), they are the ones who pioneered the sounds you hear now. They are the ones we have to thank for the music that we love today, and there is something to be said for a band that has been crafting their sound for decades. So, if we are still reading classic literature for the purpose of understanding the evolution of writing, why would we not listen to classic rock?