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News:
Reunions To Provide Big Rock News Of 2007
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK



Cue Peaches. Cue Herb. Get the band ready.

All together now...Reunited, and it feels so good...

2007 is turning into a major reunion year for rock 'n' roll -- one of the busiest ever. The Police's formal announcement last week joined already confirmed reformations by Genesis, the Smashing Pumpkins, the second generation of Black Sabbath (as Heaven and Hell), Asia and, for a one-off, Rage Against the Machine.

And Van Halen has announced a jaunt with original singer David Lee Roth, although dates have not been announced yet.

What's going on here? "The fact is that for many of these artists, the clock's ticking," says Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the touring trade magazine PollStar. "When you have (artists) who are in their 50s and 60s, it comets down to a 'If we're ever going to do it, we better do it now' kind of situation.

"And," Bongiovanni adds, "because economics have changed so much in the (concert business), if a group or an artist retired 20 years ago when ticket prices were $20, the amount they could conceivably make by reforming and coming back today could bolster the bank account."

That's for sure. The Police are getting $225 and $90 for their tickets, and Van Halen, which charged an $89.50 top tier for its 2004 reunion tour with Sammy Hagar, is rumored to be looking at solid three-figure prices this time out.

Nevertheless, says Rick Franks of LiveNation, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder. When something breaks up and you never anticipate seeing it again, there's a genuine excitement when it gets back together. Who knows what the reasons are; were just happy it's happening."

With that in mind, here's a quick survey of who's getting re-joined at the hip in the coming months:



THE POLICE

First Time Since: 1984 (save for three shows on the 1986 Amnesty International Human Rights Now tour)

Who's In: Founding (and only) members Sting, Andy Summers and Stewart Copeland.

Time Frame: The 30th anniversary tour kicks off May 28 in Vancouver and should hit the Palace of Auburn Hills in mid-July.

Why We're Excited: This is a reunion no one ever expected to see, whether hell froze over or not. The Police men are still at the top of their individual games as players and haven't done anything to devalue the band name over the years. And the hits -- from "Roxanne" to "Every Breath You Take" -- still sound as fresh and vital as when they first came out.

Why We're Wary: Famously volatile, there's always a chance this could self-destruct -- though we highly doubt it. But the messy arrangement of "Roxanne" they played at the Grammys could be harbinger of some disappointments ahead.



VAN HALEN

First Time Since: 1984

Who's In: Original frontman David Lee Roth with guitarist Edward Van Halen and his brother, drummer Alex. Eddie's 15-year-old son Wolfgang will be taking Michael Anthony's place on bass.

Time Frame: Unknown. The group has announced its intent to tour this year, but not any specific dates. More may be known when it's inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12.

Why We're Excited: Van Halen fans have been clamoring for a reunion with flamboyant showman Roth practically since he left the band in 1985 and was replaced by Sammy Hagar -- who did his own reunion tour with VH in 2004. To many, his years with the band were Van Halen's true golden age.

Why We're Wary: It's not quite the full-fledged original lineup reunion we wanted; that would include Anthony, who's fallen out of favor with the Van Halen brothers. Roth's vocal prowess has diminished markedly over the years, Eddie has made a lot of erratic comments recently and Wolfgang is an unknown quantity.



SMASHING PUMPKINS

First Time Since: 2000

Who's In: Original frontman Billy Corgan and founding drummer Jimmy Chamberlin. Others are unknown.

Time Frame: A new album, "Zeitgeist," is due out July 7. A few European festival dates have been booked for June, with a more extensive tour to be announced soon.

Why We're Excited: The Pumpkins were one of the best of the '90s alt.rock boom, and the material still sounds solidly relevant in today's modern rock world.

Why We're Wary: With guitarist James Iha and bassist D'Arcy Wretzky MIA, it's not much of a reunion, is it? It's essentially a Corgan solo project -- which, some will argue, the Pumpkins always were, anyway -- under a more marketable name. And we haven't forgotten Zwan, Corgan and Chamberlin's ill-gotten post-Pumpkins band.



GENESIS

First Time Since: 1992

Who's In: Founding guitarist/bassist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks, with longtime singer-drummer Phil Collins.

Time Frame: The tour starts June 11 in Finland and should reach these shores by late summer, with a September show expected in the Detroit metro area.

Why We're Excited: Rutherford and Banks tried but could not successfully continue Genesis after Collins left in 1996. This gives us one more chance to hear the group’s most commercially successful lineup and hits such as “Misunderstanding,” “Turn It On Again,” “Invisible Touch,” “Follow You, Follow Me” and many more — but probably none of the songs Collins wrote for Disney’s film and stage productions of “Tarzan.”

Why we’re wary: Without any new material expected, it’s strictly an oldies excursion. And it’s a bit of a letdown after initial reports that indicated past members Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett also would be part of the project.



HEAVEN AND HELL (a.k.a. BLACK SABBATH)

First time since: 1992.

Who’s in: Black Sabbath founders Tony Iommi (guitar) and Terry “Geezer” Butler (bass), with vocalist Ronnie James Dio (1979-82, 1992) and drummer Vinny Appice (1981-82, 1992).

Time frame: The tour starts March 11 in Vancouver and will stomp across the planet throughout 2007. A compilation, “Black Sabbath: The Dio Years,” with three new songs, arrives April 3.

Why we’re excited:) Dio, who’s still in fine form and recently cameoed in “Tenacious D in: The Pick of Destiny,” was a godsend after Ozzy Osbourne left Sabbath in the late ’70s. This should be a nice antidote to the original lineup’s performances, which have become fairly rote during recent OZZFests.

Why we’re wary: The Dio stuff — three studio albums and a live set — was good, but not nearly as hot as the Osbourne era, which Iommi says Heaven and Hell won’t touch on this tour.



ASIA

First time since: Well, 2006, but that was the fi rst time since 1984.

Who’s in: The original lineup of Steve Howe, Carl Palmer, John Wetton and Geoff Downes.

Time frame: Asia continues the reunion tour it began last year starting March 4 in Japan and continuing throughout the year. The group plays July 6 at the GM Renaissance Center in Detroit.

Why we’re excited: This “supergroup” did platinumplus business in the early ’80s with hits such as “Heat of the Moment” and “Only Time Will Tell.”

Why we’re wary: They weren’t very good.



RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE

First time since: 2000.

Who’s in: The group’s entire original — and only — lineup.

Time frame: April 29 at the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif.

Why we’re excited: They were one of rock’s best live bands, and their politically minded repertoire, unfortunately, still reflects the tenor of the times even a decade or more later. And if this show goes well, maybe they’ll tour.

Why we’re wary: A tour could be unlikely, but we can hope — especially now that Audioslave, which features three of Rage’s members, is in limbo after the departure of singer Chris Cornell.



THE RUMOR MILL

And what would a year be without some rumored reunions that have no chance of happening?

The perennial Led Zeppelin reformation has raised its head again, with the British tabloid The Sun quoting a “band insider” as saying that Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones met earlier this year and “if the right offer comes up, they will do it.” Plant, however, is involved in two recording projects that he’s shown no willingness to abandon.

The British magazine Uncut reported that former Creedence Clearwater Revival leader John Fogerty would perform his June 23 Glastonbury Festival show with estranged former bandmates Stu Cook and Doug “Cosmo” Clifford. Both sides issued quick denials.

There’s some speculation that Journey will kiss and make up with singer Steve Perry and hit the road together this summer. There’s no truth in that one, either, and Perry is instead working on his fi rst solo album in 13 years.









Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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