Tribute shows have come a long way from fat Elvis impersonators in shiny suits singing love songs on a badly-lit stage. While you might think they’re a predominantly US phenomenon, popularity is soaring here in Australia and around Europe too, with many outfits touring the world and selling out, no less. Check the what’s on guide to major cities and you’ll likely find a myriad of performances spanning The Beatles to Led Zeppelin to, yes, Elvis Presley.
It’s more than nostalgia driving the boom; for many performers, it’s one way to reach a new audience while paying homage to groups and artists they admire so much. For audience members, they know they can expect a night of hit after hit, performed with near-perfect execution.
Tribute shows are different to covers, in that the musicians will replicate everything that made the original so unique, including the gestures, clothing and on-stage personas of the band members. The stage production and lighting will be top-quality too, especially with concerts increasingly playing in large-capacity venues and major arenas.
Why should you go?
Groups retire. Bands break up. And, yes, artists pass away. In 2016 alone we farewelled George Michael, Leonard Cohen, Prince, Sharon Jones and David Bowie.
These shows, recreating and reimagining the experience, are the sometimes the only way for fans to enjoy the music of their favourite groups live. For those of us post-Beatles breakup, but have grown up hearing their music on the airwaves and in films, the chance to see and hear ‘Imagine’ and ‘Hey Jude’ live on stage is the closest we’ll get to experiencing what our parents and grandparents experienced in the 60s and 70s when Beatlemania swept the world.
To further prove the authenticity of the sound and show, many are now endorsed by the groups themselves or have direct creative input from former band members or their families. The Music of Cream, for example, will feature Kofi Baker (son of rock legend Ginger), Malcolm Bruce (son of Cream’s singer-bassist Jack Bruce) and Will Johns (Eric Clapton’s nephew), all stellar musicians in their own rights.
So, the next time you’re after a great night out with smash-hit songs and world-class showmanship, don’t look past these brilliant concert events.