Friday, May 3, 2013

Do Bands Need Anyone But The Frontman?

OK, I really wanted to call this post 'F**k The Bass Player', after a song by a delightful French band called The Inspector Cluzo, but then I remembered that I'm a respectable young lady, and respectable young ladies do not swear. Ho hum.

Anyway, I had a most entertaining conversation at work today, and it went something like this:

Colleague: "Bon Jovi is going to be great! I just want to see Sambora, you know, his fingers."
Me: "Um, Sambora's not coming."

Wait, what? Yes, Richie Sambora seems to be skipping the SA leg of Bon Jovi's current tour due to 'personal issues'. Now whether he's in rehab, or the rest of the band have just gotten damn sick of him after 30-odd years, the point is the band is down a guitarist and still continuing the tour as planned (much to the dismay of said colleague: "Who's going to do the talkbox on Livin' On A Prayer now? Huh?!).

But the question remains: should they have cancelled? Where does one draw the line between "Oh, he's just the guitarist, we'll get a session dude in" and "He's the lead singer, there's no way we're playing this show!" Every time Brandon Flowers strains his delicate voice, The Killers postpone a show or two (and rightly so, no one else can pull off those vocals), and Green Day pulled out of an entire tour when Billie Joe finally stopped saying "no, no, no" to rehab. But here we have Bon Jovi continuing sans Sambora. But once again, rightly so. Imagine what the thousands of South African fans would say if the band pulled out after we'd waited 18 years to see them.

And this gets me thinking: what if Coldplay pitched up to a show without Jonny, Will and Guy? Would it still sound the same? How about if The Killers replaced Dave, Mark and Ronnie with Ted, Bobby and Rob? And now this all begs the question: can a solo frontman continue to perform just as successfully by himself, without the rest of the band?

Anyway, I'm just speculating and thinking out loud here. Of course band members besides the frontman are important. But just how much will Bon Jovi's sound differ without Richie? Should the promoter issue an official statement? How many people will even notice that it's a different dude headbanging next to Jon? Do you know what all the members of your favourite bands look like? I won't lie, I went to see The Kooks two weeks ago, and I wouldn't have known anyone but Luke Pritchard if they'd thrown a pack of 5 Gum at my head...

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