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Got To Go 7: Beer And How?


2001.Not just one of the greatest films of all time. A picture that for me, being a sensible Atheist, is as close to a spiritual experience as I can get. But it is also one of the worst years in living memory for reasons that need little remembering.2001. Eleven short years since the end of the much misunderstood and misremembered 1980s. More than long enough to light the rich fuse of nostalgia, and to sting even still young listeners with regret. Music had changed in many ways for the worse. Now, countless vital artists were firing on all cylinders in the 1990s. Henry Rollins once said in response to the old canard that the 80s blew that it 'depended on what level you were flying on' and that's even more true in the decade of flannel, hip pop, slushed out soul and the fucking spice girls. Focus group driven durchfall drippage like Boyzone, product sanded down of any rough edge or unexpected angle had blown the blow dried but vaguely human likes of A Flock of Seagulls and Boy George out of the charts and even the radio. This new lot made The Thompson Twins seem like The Velvet Underground in comparison.Of course the bigger names of the 80s had long since made themselves irrelevant or else had been made so by changes in the music market.A lot of the rot was typical rock star self harm. Arrogance. Overreach. Attempts to hybridise with new and alien genres. World Muse Sack. Ballads about little understood foreign civil wars, getting sober, being too famous, or growing old.Fans that came to hear Just The Hits instead were insulted by all this - waiting and wading through turgid new tunes and caprices - these punters were lucky if a surprise encore was something they knew the words to. I've been there myself in the past as a foolish youth - trying not to be seen looking at my Swatch or else calculating if there was enough time to make it to the bar, or toilet or both before something I wanted to hear was played out. The horrid sensation stuck in the piss or beer crush as the first few bars of a beloved song started was a vile frisson. So I learned to endure. And to love better artists in whose enrapturement this was not a problem as new sounds were something to savour, not suffer.2001. Tony Denton, a man who I know little about but looks like a friendly Pirate from kid's TV had a brainwave. Seven artistes. performing Just The Hits, or even Just That Single, and nothing more. Backed by session musicians as needs be. It took off, fast and was soon noticed by the credible press as a phenomenon. At first, Denton found it hard to get artists with more credible history, and integrity, aboard:""I'd been trying to get The Human League for ages," says Here And Now promoter Tony Denton. "At first, they were extremely resistant to the idea. For bands that developed after punk, this is a little too close to doing the cabaret circuit. But, you know, each artist has their creative lifespan."It's hard not to feel a bit of sympathy for Phil Oakey and friends, probably the only act on the bill of even partial cultural import. Now the concept has grown and Nostalgia tours are happening all over the globe. Variants and copycat promotions have mushroomed, while it looks like canny Tony is now mining the shallow end of the 70s - offering the most shameless of the wrinklies 'One last chance to see' (Insert act here) AND (Insert other act charting at the same time here) TOGETHER on stage. This is the delicious false promise of the carnival barker - as we all know any act able to fill a school hall with punters will want to or else be forced to milk the shit until they close the lid.Many people think they are way, way WAY too cool and down to stoop low enough to dig a 'retro tour'. There is a mushy middle class middle ground between the sideshow and cruise ship race track rewind nostalgia thing and still current artists playing to overpaying parents and ethical burrito vendors in a field. These events are often heavily sponsored by high street brands, banks, credit cards and even your tax money. This is the Dead Pool - where established big, often still pretty magic acts circle the drain and share the bill with family friendly, already familiar sounding even if you've not heard them before pastiche pumpers like Imelda May and Paloma Faith.This is a sad and scary place from which few rise or return from. I can't bear to look. It's as if one has run into a long lost lover twerking and tweaking for loose change in some Pat Ping Pong Parlour.But there is a gold in them there sustainable picnic hampers and a vision where the past never ends in the future. You might even profit from my crystal ball humming if you get in on it quick. That's where we'll go next and finally...

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