Where have all the rock stars gone?

Wayne Madden | Friday, 20 February 2009

Where have all the rock stars gone?

This weekend the UK will see the release of Anvil, a documentary about the eponymous Canadian rock band. In 1984 the band toured Europe with the Scorpions, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake. Three of the four bands on that tour became household names; but the fourth did not.

Elsewhere, music fans are recovering from the shock announcement that Def Leppard, and Whitesnake, will headline Download 2009 in Donington Park alongside Limp Bizkit and Motley Crue. Leppard last played Donington (albeit when it used to be called 'Monsters of Rock') in 1986 - on the back of the album Hysteria - and Whitesnake headlined the festival in 1988 and 1990.

When grunge stalwarts like Nirvana and Soundgarden emerged in the summer of 1991, many journalists laughed at the stupid hair and absurd costumes of the past decade. 2009 will see those same bands return to glory, while Soundgarden's Chris Cornell will duet with Timbaland in a desperate bid for attention.

Even Pearl Jam, who captured international attention with debut album Ten, plan to re-release the album on March 24th in the hope of capturing some younger fans. It's all about the younger fans these days, because (with over 50 million albums sold worldwide) the average 16-year-old has never had the oppurtunity to see Limp Bizkit in concert - until now.

But why is it that these flagbearers of past generations are returning? Why are the likes of Iron Maiden being honoured with a Brit award, and why does Sarah Brown (the wife of the PM) want to be seen with Anvil on the red carpet of their film premiere in London?

Could the economic depression be the answer? Surely the music of Nirvana and Alice In Chains would seem more in tune with that mood. Does the spirit of a nation which refuses to believe in the worst find itself hammering against the increasing unemployment figures with loud, fist-shaking rock music?

Surely the 5 million Brits who sent AC/DC's first album in eight years to the top of the charts - the same people who sold out every date on Metallica's first UK tour in 12 years - can't be wrong?

Nostalgia is like taking life, painting over the ugly parts, and recycling it for more than its true worth. Bands like Fozzy, who helped pay tribute to the headliners of the '80s with their tongue-in-cheek metal, are now overshadowed by acts considered long buried - or at least relegated to nostalgic US package tours - who look set to rise again.

For those of us who proudly waited for the likes of Def Leppard's X and Whitesnake's Live In The Shadow Of The Blues, it's a tribute moment, and one to be cherished as the world makes it clear that it's chosen a new champion of the mainstream. Rock, it seems, is back... and this time it's going all the way to 13!