2008 Comeback Stories: Lola, Roxanne, Lola ... and Billie Jean?
This post is part of our series on people, places and things that have found new life in 2008.
When I found out last year that The Police was regrouping for a reunion tour, I immediately called my rock concert buddy to make plans to see the show. "I feel like I'm 17 again, " I told her, giddy at the thought of seeing the three hot guys (I'm talking both physically and talent-wise here) I'd dug in my adolescence take the stage at the same venue where I'd seen them almost 25 years ago.
While the concert was solid and enjoyable, the band didn't move me the way it did in my youth. The tour was successful enough that The Police are coming around again this year -- this time with fellow '80s icon Elvis Costello -- but I'm not compelled to see the show again. That's the problem with reunion shows: The reality rarely measures up to the rosy glow of memory.
Take , for example, the Jackson 5: Jermaine Jackson announced plans for a reunion tour late last year, saying brother Michael was on board. No tour dates have been announced yet, and it seems likely that the self-proclaimed King of Pop is holding things up. After all, he's been pretty busy with the release of the 25th anniversary edition of the Thriller album.
Should Michael be on board? His talent is arguably still intact, but let's face it: He's not exactly the handsome young front man he once was. And even if you look charitably on his recent legal troubles, he's still one weird dude --something that wasn't apparent in the Jackson 5's heyday. Given all that, and the fact that they're all 35 years older, the brothers would be hard-pressed to recapture the innocence that helped make their music so endearing and enduring.
Another brother is threatening to put the kibosh on plans for another reunion tour. Ray and Dave Davies, who made up half of The Kinks, are as legendary for their feuds as for their music. Ray Davies' recent attempts to get the band back together have met with resistance from his bro, in part because Dave Davies is recovering from a stroke. While this may hamper Dave's playing, it's not affecting his ability to blog: In a post to his Web site, he declared that a reunion tour "would be like a poor remake of Night of the Livin (sic) Dead. Ray's response: "He's getting well enough to shout at me. That's a good sign."
I don't hold out much hope of The Kinks getting back together, but if they do, I'll be there. I still feel gypped that they didn't get to play an encore when I saw them at the 1982 Us Festival: They were fighting backstage with concert promoter Bill Graham, another man who in his lifetime was as noted for his temper as for his talent.
There's another pop artist on tour who I don't always cop to having enjoyed in my youth: Barry Manilow. My friend saw him when he came through town this month and said he's still a great performer, which I don't doubt, but his legacy has been reduced to drunken karaoke sing-alongs and ironic pop culture references on shows like Friends.
I'll have to keep in mind my working knowledge of Manilow's oeuvre before I criticize any (hopefully younger) music fans who are excited about the comebacks of New Kids on the Block or Robbie Williams. We all have our dirty little pop secrets.