Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Column - Nostalgia Must Die?

Words: Chris Hynd

lo hi, cheap and divine
order must die
nostalgia must die
shoot me gently

So said Scarfo back in the late 90s. Were they oddly prescient with those words? Were they onto something? They might be right if you look at the first 2 gig reviews on this here blog - My Bloody Valentine and Pentangle, 2 bands pretty legendary in their respective fields, getting back together for a series of shows at a not inconsiderable cost to anyone who'd like to see them. I paid £25 to see MBV, to hear a bunch of songs around 20 years old and the funny thing is, I was happy to do it. This is a band I've grown up musically with, and I'm sure Andy feels the same about Pentangle, 2 bands that neither of us would probably have dreamt of seeing live a few years back. What does that say about us? I'm being presumptious here with regard to my esteemed colleague, I'll rephrase. What does that say about me?

I try my best to discover new bands, new music, whether it be online through word of mouth or through recommendations from others and I've seen many, many great bands at gigs over the years that I've never come into contact with before and that's surely what music is all about, the discovery of the new and the exciting. But maybe I'm settled enough within myself now (that may well be a euphemism for "old bastard" I know...) to realise that I love kicking back and rediscovering those old records that so thrilled me as a callow youth. And I was a callow youth, trust me on that score.

Case in point #1. One of the best gigs I was at last year was Sonic Youth doing "Daydream Nation" - you knew exactly what you were going to get but when those first notes in "Teenage Riot" chimed away, it just automatically felt like something special, like an event. And I think Sonic Youth got that too, they really put a lot into that show, it was songs that those in the audience have heard for collectively thousands of times and probably know inside out. But it was a great night, it was a band having fun with one of their best records and it was a crowd getting a thrill hearing those songs once more and I think that's where people's enjoyment for these reunions is coming from and is why bands are evidently enjoying them. Or is it because they're raking in the cash from them? I'll leave the cynics to debate that.

One thing I hope that Kevin Shields and MBV take from these shows is the sense that people want them around, that people want them to succeed and not be half-arsed about it all. Look at Dinosaur Jr, I'm guessing Shields and J.Mascis are pals, hell I saw 'em walking around together at ATP a couple of years back. They reformed with the "classic" line-up, toured those first 3 records to fuck, evidently saw how good it was working and lo and behold came out the other side with a fabulous new record and are now playing sets encompassing all their material. That's the blueprint, that's the model. Whether they go down that road is anyone's guess (it is Kevin Shields we're talking about!) but it can be done.

Nostalgia must die? Not quite yet as I think everything has its place and as long as it makes your ears smile then that's OK by me. I think I may be pushing my luck in hoping for an AC/DC-Bon Scott reunion though...

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