Everyone content? After basking in the furore surrounding Daydream Nation’s three-night residency at The Roundhouse at the tail-end of last week, few could call to question Sonic Youth’s decision to perform at the ATP-affiliated Don't Look Back event. Financial incentives aside, the opportunity to laud the 1988-released record as seminal and perform to an audience as wide as it was at their peak is an opportunity to re-expose themselves in a way that under any other circumstances would be unlikely. But for all the plaudits that the New York noiseniks acquired off the back of the performances it calls into question the peculiar appetite with which these events are lapped up. All things considered, should these records really be victim to such nostalgia-ridden retrospectives? Is there not a better way that these records can be celebrated?
There is obviously a demand for these types of show but why that is remains to be seen. The best guess is that with ticket prices bloated like never before people want a guarantee that 'the hits' are going to be peddled and merchandise desires satisfied. Whilst Sonic Youth continue to sell out similarly-sized venues when they perform 'normally' there seems an increasing focus around creating something regarding a 'Teen Age Riot' 'moment' on performances and these recitals provide people with the structure they desire. Long gone is unpredictable energy, everyone wants to know how many hours to purchase for the car park. Fair enough, everyone wants to punch a loose-limbed fist to a certain track, but does this over-sentimentality not get in the way of the new music and generally blunt the erratic point live music is meant to provide? It calls into question whether senses are being dulled. Are people being engaged with new music, seeking acts inspired by those with the reborn status, because of these sorts of events or do shutters close and people retreat into the cosiness of their bona fide classics? Has this added a sense of occasion to the new Thurston Moore record?
Perhaps we're all taking this too seriously. Who cares if Gang of Four want to distance the concepts that originally held Entertainment! together to perform it in its entirety? If the act are willing to perform then why get so pent up? "In the age of the iPod where people pick and choose tracks, Don't Look Back encourages fans to preserve the album as an art form, listened to, as the artist intended," states ATP head honcho Barry Hogan. Though it isn't really the way that the artist originally intended. These events require people to stand back and admire them as one-off spectacles but are increasingly becoming the bona fide article. So, are these comfortably nostalgic repertoires taking too much of a centre stage?