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Thursday, 27 January 2011

The listings page: where it's always 1985

Bands "returning" is bad enough (Duran Duran, Big Audio Dynamite), but outfits returning to play "classic albums" (Suede) is really pushing it. What next can we scrape out of the rusty promo barrel? What about: bands returning to play classic albums ... er, in their "original stage costumes"? Or: bands returning-classic-albums-original-costumes ... in a lovingly-recreated 1985, "where no-one has got mobile phones and AIDS is a new deadly disease"? Yeah, quite good that.

Nostalgia sells. Fine. And I suppose if Time Out has to partially fund its (genuinely useful) London gigs listings with tacky ads from Big Country, The Stranglers and Haircut One Hundred (I kid you not, all these and more in this week's TO), then I guess it's a price worth paying.

In fact there's even a kind of enjoyable dissonance in seeing once-fresh bands trading on former glories sitting alongside the sometimes excellent but (in PR terms) virtually invisible bands tucked away in the listings proper.

Who knows, perhaps if you were in a first-band-on-at-a-free-gig-in-Islington-on-a-Sunday-night you might quite like the fact that your group was discreetly sharing a listings page with a "legendary" one like The Stranglers. ("Hey, we've got some of their stuff from Black And White. Brilliant" etc).

A friend of mine was once in a small band in the 1980s that supported Rip, Rig And Panic in front of a 500-plus audience (about 10 times bigger than their previous biggest gig). It was their (one and only) brush with fame. He liked it, in a kind of dazed way. If you're next to the Haircut One Hundred advertisement it must feel something like that. Who says the reheated supergroups don't do their bit for fresh talent?

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