If you’re anything like me, there’s always gonna be a little bit of musical heartbreak in your life. I love music and exploring everything new on the scene, but really I spend most of my listening time rummaging around in the 80s and earlier.
Since my love of music, gigs and the genres I’m into have always been massively influenced by what my parents played while I was growing up, there’s a fair few bands I absolutely adore, but have to face the fact that I’m just never going to see them live.
It’s not all misery though, some are still going strong and I was lucky enough to catch The Cure at Reading Festival in 2012 – the feeling of seeing that wild hair and slumped guitar Boys Don’t Cry silhouette emerging from the smoke in the flesh was something incredible. But there are other loves of mine that I’ll never see. The ever gorgeous Electric Warrior Marc Bolan, for one. Arguably the founder of glam rock, he died tragically in a car accident in 1977. Or Elvis Presley, a man who made an unfathomable mark on the development of rock-n-roll. There’s a few bands that I’ll never see, frustratingly really, as they’re all alive and well. Namely, I’m mainly thinking of, the gladioli-swinging Mancunian legends The Smiths, who, let’s face it, will take their disagreements to the grave with them.
But what if there’s an outlet for us second or third generation fans? I’d never really considered it before, but I’m warming more and more to the idea of tribute bands. I’m not taking some shoddy pub cover band, but the meticulous musicians that really make a sort-of career out of being their idols. It’s an art, really, if you see these bands at work – they live the band they’re impersonating while they’re on stage, having genuinely studied how the original artist moved, spoke and interacted when they performed.
Suddenly my longing to see Bolan live is less of a dream. Too-Rex describe themselves as “the definitive Marc Bolan/T.Rex tribute band” and their huge tour schedule and numerous reviews praising their performances make it hard to disagree with them. A quick scan of YouTube and I am quite literally jaw-dropped at how spot on the vocals are, the costuming, the song rehearsed down to a tee and every facial expression as if it’s Bolan himself. Perhaps I’m no expert, but if you played the audio to me I’d never have guessed it wasn’t T.Rex themselves.
Even more excitedly for me, there’s a band touring right now called The Smyths. Quiffed up to the nines and armed with that coy, twirly dancing Morrissey pulls out of the bag even now, The Smyths are honestly a fantastic example of tribute bands doing it right. Of course their YouTube videos are full of a fair few people pulling them apart (what else would you expect if you mix together Mozza fans and the internet?), but the majority of reviews are glowing. The Smiths are a superbly difficult band to imitate, with complex riffs and a richly developed unique sound, so to say The Smyths have pulled it off would be an understatement – just search for their Bigmouth Strikes Again video and let the absolute insanity of the crowd show you how well they’re doing.
There’s tons of tribute bands out there; Think Floyd, Krazy Nights, Jean Genie, Oasiz and tons more. Whatever you like, there’s probably one you could give a go. I couldn’t honestly tell you about the quality of one from the next, but at a fraction of the price of the real thing, why not give them a go? And why not live a little bit of live music that you were born just a bit too late for?
By Kamiah Overaa