I think I jinxed myself when I told my wife that Neil Diamond was one of the few singers I might actually go to the trouble of seeing in concert.
Yes, not too long after I made that pronouncement, Diamond abruptly went cold turkey on touring, because of a diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease.
Performers such as Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen keep going strong (although one of The Boss’s songs may be renamed “Dancing In The Dark - Or Are Those Just Cataracts?”), but an alarming number of other iconic acts are winding down.
Farewell tours of one length or another have been announced by Elton John, Ozzy Osbourne, southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd (advancing years give new meaning to classics such as “What’s Your Name?” and “That Smell”), Grammy-winning thrash metal band Slayer, Paul Simon, Joan Baez and Aretha Franklin. (To her credit, the “Queen of Soul” wants to slow down while her soul and body are still together!)
Some performers are calling it quits to spend more time with family or to go out on a high note. Others are dealing with health issues and don’t want “Needs more cowbell” to segue into “Needs more defibrillator.”
Young people who missed the glory days of various superstars are being prodded by their elders to see the living legends while they’re still alive. Slapping “farewell tour” on a series of concerts adds a sense of urgency, but some acts will benefit more than others.
Some performers will be able to take an actual victory lap, but others may already be past their “sell by” date. (“That’s okay. You won’t have me to kick around anymore. But if you do kick me, let me know. I can’t really feel much because of the neuropathy.”)
My wife and I have always been frugal and lazy about attending musical events (we’ve seen Elton John, the Righteous Brothers, fiddle virtuoso Mark O’Connor and that’s about it), but other fans from multiple generations are willing to lay out big bucks to catch up with these tours.
(I can appreciate the allure of nostalgia, but I’m mostly nostalgic for the good old days when ticket scalpers could afford only ONE yacht each.)
On the other hand, not everyone is enamored of live performances. A quick Google search turns up more than 2,000 listings for the phrase “I hate concerts.” Grievances include lame opening acts, nosebleed seating, crowded bathrooms, ear-splitting sound checks, political rants and self-indulgent 10-minute kazoo solos.
Diehard fans truly enjoy using the Hubble Space Telescope to watch music being made on stage; but others are happy to turn on the stereo, close their eyes and use their imagination. At a live venue, all you can imagine is ways to murder the sweaty moron who keeps vomiting on your shoes.
People are quick to rationalize exorbitant ticket prices, sky-high concessions prices and nerve-wracking parking conditions with the line, “At least I can say I saw him perform live.” Hey, there’s a cheaper way to be able to say you saw him perform live: LEARN TO LIE REALLY WELL.
(“Yeah, I saw Bob Dylan in Toronto; but it was even wilder when I was in the audience for, um, Beethoven! Never would’ve pictured Ludwig crowd surfing like that. And of course, I’ll call you tomorrow, whatever your name is, baby. I’ll even call you yesterday!”)
Danny welcomes email responses at email@example.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.”