Farewell Tours - 'Thank you, see you at the reunion'

Every time we think we've said goodbye to a band, we know the comeback won't be far off. Simon Hardeman despairs of the bogus final tour

Should a ticket for a farewell tour be a legally enforceable document? There's a slew of valedictory excursions this year, headed up by Simply Red – but can we be sure that it really is goodbye to Mick Hucknall's saccharine-soul outfit, for instance, when the words "farewell tour" carry about as much finality as the closing credits of a Halloween film?

Among others whose current partings are supposed to be such sweet sorrow to everyone but the booking agencies are Supergrass, A-ha, The Go-Go's, The Shadows, Scorpions, and even Irish-dancing spectacular Riverdance (freeing hordes of limb-locked ginger dancers to move their upper bodies). Yet the Go-Go's have already gone-gone once, splitting up in 1985, when music heaven stopped being a place on Earth for the first time for Belinda Carlisle and Co-Co. Ironically they may now even have to say goodbye to their farewell tour, thanks to an injury to guitarist Jane Wiedlin. No matter: as David Gates wrote, goodbye doesn't mean forever. Say hello (hello, I'm back again) to Kiss, The Who, Frank Sinatra, Cher, and even those Shadows...

Face-painting mega-selling glam-rockers Kiss announced their retirement from touring in 2001. "This is not a game," said bassist Gene Simmons with as straight a gaze as it is possible to muster under a margarine-tub's-worth of black and white slap. "This is the real deal. There will be no other." He went on to stress how important it was to "say goodbye to the fans in the right way". To emphasise the finality of the situation, the band even released a full-sized coffin, the Kiss Kasket ($4,500 unsigned, $5,000 signed, no price offered on occupied).

But reports of their demise were as exaggerated as their platform heels: saying goodbye in the right way didn't, apparently, involve meaning it. All those fans who had shelled out on what they thought was their last chance to see a bunch of middle-aged men with faces like Rorschach tests sticking their tongues out on stage had been deluded. In 2003 Kiss-and-make-up were back for a tour where the most expensive seats cost £1,000 (the package included meeting the band afterwards and, presumably, the chance to ask what "saying goodbye the right way" really meant). Yet no one seemed particularly miffed – the tour made £64m. (Ironically, while the Kasket did not, as advertised, mark the demise of Kiss, it did for at least one musician. When Dimebag Darrell, founder member of Texas heavies Pantera, was murdered on stage in 2004, he was buried in one.)

Evergreen Sixties instrumentalists The Shadows say their latest farewell tour will be their last. Unlike their previous farewell tour in 2004, then? But this time around they have been supporting Cliff Richard, and the exact nature of the finality involved is difficult to pin down. Whatever it is, it propelled an album of re-recorded hits into the top five. Bill Latham, the manager of the beknighted Peter Pan of Pop, has admitted that the farewell element applies only to the conjunction of the two acts: "Cliff's not saying it's his last tour," said Latham. "It will be the last time Cliff and the Shadows tour together."

This kind of confusion has been used to excuse a variety of not-quite- final farewells. Cher, who has built her career on never having to say goodbye to anything she couldn't get remade by technology and reattached, including at one point her voice ("Believe"), performed an epic farewell world tour from 2002 to 2005, including a TV special that attracted 17 million viewers and gained her first Emmy. She cashed in on the publicity of these "last" gigs by releasing both live and greatest hits albums. But in 2008 she was back for 200 dates in Las Vegas. And perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised – during the final leg (if Cher could ever have a final leg: surely some surgeon somewhere would have a replacement) of the jaunt, she said, "I never really plan anything – something will happen."

A-Ha, another band on the farewell-tour trail, have already had what they called a "hiatus", for several years from 1994. Guitarist Magne Furuholmen says they now "want to leave the party before [they] get thrown out... this is an opportunity to say goodbye to our fans while people have a good memory of A-Ha." Ah, yes, the fans. "We're going to do this one for the fans," said Gene Simmons about Kiss's farewell tour. Mick Hucknall commented on Simply Red's sayonara: "We want to share this closing anniversary [it is 25 years since they began] with all the people who have enjoyed our sound throughout the years... We all hope to see you at a show somewhere soon." And Klaus Meine of The Scorpions said last month: "It's for our fans... this is a chance to celebrate [an] outstanding career... we want to celebrate with our fans."

But in what sense is a farewell tour "for the fans"? Are the tickets any cheaper? Do the band give them presents? Big hugs? No. A farewell tour is like a footballer's testimonial, a chance for a last big payday from an act on the slide, with the last-chance element a priceless marketing tool. There was so much interest in Michael Jackson's series of "farewell" gigs at the O2 that 45 were eventually planned. Ironically, the demand from so many people to say goodbye probably helped lead to their never getting the chance to do just that. Unlike so many farewell tours, it was the tour, not the farewell, that went missing.

Sometimes, of course, a band genuinely does believe it has come to the end of its lifespan. Supergrass, who haven't had a top 20 single in seven years, said, "Musical differences have led to us moving on." Well, yes: musical differences with the people who used to buy their records. And before the last concert in America of their farewell tour in 1982, The Who's Pete Townshend told a Cleveland radio station that "the big dinosaur bands [like The Who] will cease to have a hold on the audiences that they've had in the past." Although the tour was the highest grossing of that year, Townshend insisted he'd had enough: he produced what should be a model mini-elegy for all farewells from internally troubled acts: "We're giving up each other for each other."

Except, of course, that they didn't. The Who were back seven years later for a tour that sold two million tickets. "Won't Get Fooled Again", indeed. Some farewell tours aren't even what they seem as they are happening: the Rolling Stones' 1971 UK Farewell Tour was just about them moving to France for tax reasons. That sounds almost as quaint now as a farewell tour that isn't a marketing opportunity. And without goodbyes, of course, we would be denied the amazing comeback – Sinatra's "Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back" in 1973, two years after his retirement, for instance.

Plainly aware of the history of the musical farewell, Phil Collins called his 2003 extravaganza The First Final Farewell Tour. He was still playing years later though: when Genesis announced a new tour in 2006, one fan complained on a messageboard, "It seems that everybody who paid to see his First Farewell Tour, expecting that this would be the last opportunity to see Phil live, has been deceived. Perhaps all the fans who were led to believe that these were Phil's final live performances should sue."

Which brings me back to my initial question. Should tickets for farewell tours be a proper contract? And how could that work – in Simply Red's case, in what sense are we saying goodbye to a band that has no founder member left other than the lead vocalist, especially when that vocalist says he's carrying on and admits he may continue to sing Simply Red songs? There may be only one answer to that. With hope.

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders