The Boomtown Rats to headline the Isle of Wight festival - whatever happened to new music?

The cost of tickets keep these ageing rockers on stage

Share

Six hundred and eighty eight.

That’s the combined age of the three headliners of this summer’s biggest music festivals. Give or take a few years – I ran out of beads on my abacus somewhere around the Boomtown Rats’ keyboard player. Bob Geldof and his band (combined age 348) will headline at the Isle of Wight and Elton John (65) at Bestival, it was announced this week. The Rolling Stones (275) are close to signing on the dotted line for Glastonbury. Meanwhile Paul Weller, Fleetwood Mac and Bon Jovi will also pop up in twilight slots on main stages across the land this summer.

There is nothing wrong with ageing rockers rocking on, especially when they are as fine as these. Let them, if it keeps their joints supple. But do they have to do it at festivals? What were once hedonistic voyages of musical discovery are in danger of becoming Sanatogen-sponsored nostalgia trips. The impulse of festival organisers to reach ever further back into rock’s back catalogue betrays a fatal lack of confidence in today’s scene. There is, they imply, no new band grown-up enough to cope with the Pyramid Stage after 10pm.

They could be right. A look at the Top 10 suggests a scene in dire straits. Les Miserables is at No 1 while Emeli Sandé racks up her 50th week in the chart at No 2. At the Brit Awards later this month, the next generation of British rockstars will be notable by its absence. Richard Hawley (46) is the only rocker up for Best British Male. In the Best Live Act category, just one band – The Vaccines – has emerged this decade. Coldplay, Muse, Mumford and Sons and the Rolling Stones make up the field.

The argument for putting old rockers on the stage is that they are a safe pair of hands – crowd-pleasers who will send the ticket-holders home happy. Fine. There might not, though, be such pressure to please the masses if the tickets weren’t so expensive. A weekend ticket for Glastonbury now costs £205, for Isle of Wight £185, and that’s before you add in a tent, a train fare and multiple tickets for the cider bus. The result is, increasingly, the only people who can afford to go are middle-aged professionals. When organisers book Sirs Mick and Bob they are doubtless thinking of Festival Dad with his expensive camper van parking permit, unlimited Magners budget and a propensity to splash out on falafel for all the family.

Festivals have lost their way as arenas for discovering new music. Organisers should be giving the talents of the future a boost; despite what the Brit jury thinks, there are plenty of artists who are up to the job. Leave the old rockers to their stadiums. Their fans will be far more comfortable there – some of them can have a seat.

Beyoncé's lip-synched performance

Talking of headliners, Beyoncé smacked down the rumblings around her lip-synched inauguration turn on Thursday when she sang the National Anthem live to a room of journalists. The impromptu recital took place at a press conference in advance of the Superbowl this weekend where Beyoncé will provide the half-time entertainment offering a hundred million viewers the chance to try and catch her not moving her lips in time to “Crazy in Love”. 

Striding out on to the stage, she launched into a full, two-minute belt-out of the “Star Spangled Banner”, ending with a flourish on a magnificent “braaaaaave”, before asking sweetly, “Any questions?” It was impressive, but the most remarkable thing was not Beyoncé’s octave-straddling but her marshalling of the press pack.

When she asked them “Would you guys mind standing?” they leapt to their feet, fumbling for their iPhones to record the moment. When she hit the high notes, they whooped. And when at the end she flung back her head for applause, they clapped.

Clearly, they do press conferences differently in America. One can barely imagine David Cameron persuading a roomful of cantankerous hacks to stand up, let alone cheer him. But then again, he’s never shown them his top F.

twitter.com/alicevjones

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: QA Technician

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of re...

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, an experienced and hig...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 per annum + commission: SThree: Sthree have an exciting opportunity for...

Recruitment Genius: Plumbing & Heating / Bathroom Trade Counter Sales

£22000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This well established London ba...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Children shouldn’t even know the word 'diet' — obesity and lack of body confidence are symptoms of the same cause

Natasha Devon
Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Madonna, Deadmau5, Kanye West and Jay-Z at the Tidal launch event in New York  

Tidal: An overpriced music streaming service that only benefits the super-rich members of a messianic-like cult? Where do I sign up??

Michael Segalov
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat