by Sam Skilton
For the thousands who witnessed them, 2012 will be remembered as the year of the comeback concert.
The returns of iconic bands are sometimes criticised for being excessively hyped nostalgia-fests, rather than necessities. Fans can often be found paying extortionate amounts of their hard-earned pennies, only to witness the disappointing live performances of greying rockstars beyond their better days. But was this the case in 2012?
The Stone Roses announced their heroic comeback with a surprise free gig for just over a thousand fans at Warrington Parr Hall in May. Five weeks later, three open-air concerts in Heaton Park followed, with 70,000 people on each night witnessing what was dubbed as the band’s long-awaited ‘third coming’. Ian Brown’s vocals may still have been iffy, but for those who were there, all that mattered was being part of a crowd which sung loudly enough to drown out the bum notes.
Then of course there was another payday for The Rolling Stones, who played two nights at the O2 Arena in London to mark their 50th anniversary. Although rumoured to be playing Glastonbury in 2013, this was surely one of the last opportunities that fans will have to see one of the most iconic bands in the history of rock and roll music.
But with the nation united during a patriotic summer which featured the Queen’s jubilee, yet another Euro penalty exit for England, and the spectacular London 2012 Olympics, the most quintessentially British reunion of the lot had to be Blur’s historic Hyde Park concert to coincide with the closing of the Games. It even featured Harry Enfield dressed up as a tea-lady for Christ’s sake!
Support ranged from the pulsing 80s pop melodies of post-punk band New Order, minus Peter Hook, to the rocksteady beat of The Specials, who were as raw and energetic as ever.
The most potent image of the night came at the concert’s conclusion though. A teary-eyed Damon Albarn gazed upon a sea of red, white, blue, and adoring fans, perhaps pondering his future. It was an emotional and iconic moment. The end for Blur, or a new beginning? We’re still unsure, but it was certainly a historic night.
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