THE BLOG

We're Drowning in Musical Nostalgia - But What's our Legacy?

06/09/2011 00:03 BST | Updated 05/11/2011 09:12 GMT

Over the past few years, music fans of a nostalgic disposition have been treated to a series of glorious, tear-inducing comebacks by bands who stole a piece of our hearts and soundtracked a period of our lives.

Last month, Pulp brought down the curtain at Brixton Academy, the last of their much feted comeback shows after a frantic series of summer appearances. Their 'secret' Glastonbury set saw what felt like most of the festival migrating to the tiny, hill-top Park Stage to catch what would surely be our last chance to experience the Sheffield Britpop legends in the flesh. So much so that even the world's most famous groupie, Kate Moss, was refused entry as there wasn't room for even the waifiest of women in the muddy pit of nostalgia.

Of course, Pulp was just the last in a long line of bands who put their differences behind them, shelved solo careers and made a glorious return to the big stages. Glastonbury was also the scene for perhaps the most anticipated comeback of recent times, when the members of Blur stopped making cheese, electronic music and whining noises for long enough to indulge us with a headline slot spanning the career of one of the finest pop bands of our era.

While it's Britpop aficionados who've had the lion's share of comeback joy over the past few years, I sampled my own slice of rose-tinted excitement with the opportunity to witness Black Francis and his merry band of Pixies taking to the stage on their first tour for 11 years.

And let's not forget the teenage popstrels who flooded in their thousands to witness Robbie Williams' encore as a boyband crooner with Take That.

Perhaps the most satisfying thing about the myriad of recent comeback shows hasn't been the wizened old hacks like me, desperate for a return to the glory days when music was music and 'X-Factor' was a term used to describe people with...well... some indescribable talent. No, it was the fact that those crowds - whether they were at Reading Festival, Brixton Academy or the shiny new seats of Wembley Stadium - were packed full of kids who couldn't have been more than a filthy thought in their father's minds the first time around.

These were kids who'd taken the time to discover music that, by rights, wasn't theirs. It wasn't made for people of their generation. These bands weren't products of MySpace or Facebook groups, and they weren't plastered all over Spotify as the 'next big thing'. But somehow, these bands of an increasingly bygone era had touched people they never imagined would exist when they entered the studio to lay their musical thoughts down onto CD or, in some cases, tape.

But what will we leave behind as our legacy? Who will our children flock to a muddy field to witness - perhaps for one last time?

Sure, there was The Libertines, who went and came back so quickly Pete Doherty had barely woken up from his last heroin rider. They created the same kind of stir as Axl Rose, who might have made sure the anticipation had plenty of time to fester, but the end result was an album so preposterously shit it managed to draw attention away from the fact that the only remaining members of Guns n Roses were Axl himself, and the bandana he'd steadfastly refused to take off since 1985.

Perhaps there are a few bands who instantly flag themselves up as modern-day contenders for a great comeback in ten years' time - bands who showed such incredible potential before imploding as they neared their peak. Some of whom, like The Strokes, haven't even split up yet, but their performance at Reading reeked of a band who've lost the passion, the fight, the desire to be truly great. Julian Casablancas had his moment as the coolest, most desirable man in rock, but now seems like a pastiche of the modern day frontman. Is he still cool? Fuck yes. Good-looking? Painfully so. But the spark that once made The Strokes the most exciting band on the planet has long since faded to leave behind a band seemingly going through the motions. Surely it can't be long before even Albert Hammond Jr's solo career starts to seem a more appealing prospect than strumming along with a band of musical mercenaries.

Kings of Leon, too, are a band whose ascent to the heady heights of rock 'n' roll superstardom is already starting to wedge open the cracks that have been present since the early days; Family feuds, easy drugs and enough whisky to drown George Best have clearly taken their toll on the Followhill clan.

Arctic Monkeys are certainly carving themselves a deserved reputation as a band who'll soundtrack a whole new generation of music fans, but they seem to have the aura of a band who'll keep churning out albums well into their elder years. Great news for us, of course, but terrible news for anybody hoping for that romantic comeback tour.

But as the filthy claws of X-Factor force our music industry to become a breeding ground for millionaire pub karaoke singers, who else will our kids really want to bring back?

Will there be a sell-out N-Dubz tour in 2030? Will we be staring with wide-eyed wonder as Will.I.Am finally rejoins the Black Eyed Peas at Glastonbury 2025?

Perhaps - just perhaps - we're spending so long looking to the past that we're forgetting to safeguard what's happening here and now. And while pubs and music venues dwindle and die before our very eyes, we're on our sofas on a Saturday night Tweeting how a chubby transvestite from Aberdeen could be the new Amy Winehouse.

Perhaps we need to be looking a little higher than the waist of Simon Cowell's trousers and the depths to which Louis Walsh will stoop to make a cheap buck, in order to find the bands that could - and should - be the measure of the talent our country can produce.

We don't need a return of Britpop, however great it was to live through those halcyon days. What we really need is to remember that proper music is still being created in every corner of the British Isles - just like it has been for as long as any of us have been alive.

So let's let bygones be bygones, eh? And start championing the bands we'd want to see in the future, rather than those we're still clinging onto from the past.