Future Past, or Recaptured Youth?

It’s Saturday, which means it’s time for another edition of Random Fandom! Originally, I was going to do a podcast on the following, but I think it might lend itself better to a blog. This week, I caught up with this month’s edition of Classic Pop. There is an article on Gary Kemp in there, and I wanted to take my time in reading the whole magazine from cover to cover.

While reading the article on Gary (I am one of those Duranies who also loves Spandau Ballet, and no I’m not sorry), there was a quote that I found rather interesting.

Being a fan is still the greatest feeling I’ve ever had, beating being on stage,” he insists. “I know that responsibility you have to your audience. I’ve listened to people saying how concerts of Spandau’s in the 80s matches the feelings I had, how deep it is in their psyche, too. I don’t think that feeling is ever bettered, even by walking on stage yourself.”

Page 39 Classic Pop May/June 2021

Granted, my experience in this area is limited to the onstage experiences I have had as a member of an orchestra, symphony, or even community band – but I think I understand. In the moments where I can just live in the euphoria of being a fan, I find complete bliss. There’s no responsibility with that. Your job as a fan is simply to experience the moment. Live in the joy. When you’re in the band, you have a responsibility to those fans to play your very best. The euphoria is found when your performance is on fire, when what you give is echoed back to you through the energy that the fans exude, and so forth. It’s a different sort of thing.

The article has more from Gary on this subject of fandom, though.

Gary understands how Spandau Ballet’s splits when Tony left in 2017 disappoints those fans. “Fans make the best musicians, because they know what you need. They’re fighting for you as well, trying to create your dreams, too. Fans on Twitter ask about Spandau: ‘Why aren’t you guys talking? Why can’t you write another song and get out there?’ But they don’t mean that. What they really mean subconsciously is, ‘Why can’t I be 14 again? Why can’t it still be 1984?’ That’s turned into anger, because our band isn’t there anymore. The bands that go on and on, people go along to see them, living this strange existence. I see them myself — when I go to see The Rolling Stones or The Who, I’m right back to Waiting for the Band.

Page 39 Classic Pop May/June 2021

This is where I feel the plot becomes lost. I wouldn’t completely disagree with Gary – there *are* people who come to see bands play purely in an attempt to recapture some part of their youth, whether it’s a feeling or even a moment in time they want to relive again. Maybe even when I went to see Duran Duran for the first time after many years, that was part of whatever lured me back in. Sure, I’ll go that far. But isn’t there a bit more to it all than just recaptured youth?

I think that for the most part, there are bands who serve the nostalgia circuit well. They’re not interested in creating a new path because their purpose is purely to bring those fans back to where they were in 1984. There is absolutely a place for those bands and artists, and obviously there are plenty of people willing to pay the money to see them. The system works! However, there are bands who may have started in the 80s that are still going. They’re not satisfied with nostalgia. They keep writing, keep recording, continue playing. They provide a challenge for their fans – either keep up with them musically, or be satisfied with hearing the few hits played in a set list sprinkled with newer music. I’m betting we can all point out the place Duran Duran occupies in this example. I think it is a disservice to suggest that fans aren’t really interested in hearing new music, or wanting the band to patch up their differences and get back out there.

Again, I find myself able to point a finger in the general direction of Simon, John, Nick, Roger and either Andy or Warren. Some would love nothing better than to have Andy rejoin the band because for those fans, the music was never better than it was with Andy on guitar. Others feel the same about Warren. That feeling doesn’t really have anything to do with wanting to be 14 again, it has to do with a deep love for the music. As much as I love Gary, I feel like the statement is a bit of an overgeneralization for something—fandom—that is far more complicated for many of us out there.

-R

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