The Who, Rod, Neil, El­ton, Bruce , Roger … Tony Clay­ton-Lea on rock’s vet­eran sell­ers

They have a com­bined age of well over 1,000, com­bined record sales of more than one bil­lion, and they’re all com­ing here in the next few months. Tony Clay­ton-Lea looks for­ward to a raft of gigs by rock’s el­der states­men

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An­other year, an­other traipse around the larger venues to see per­form­ers who could, if they wished, travel around for free on pub­lic trans­port in­stead of on plush coaches and pri­vate jets. But why do th­ese men want to do this? (It’s mostly men – fe­males of a sim­i­lar age are rather less con­spic­u­ous.)

For some, it may be the money, but for oth­ers it must surely be ei­ther habit or com­pul­sion. Or per­haps it’s ge­netic – they just have to leave the house and play, whether they need to or not. Or maybe – quelle sur­prise – it’s ego. Why would any­one want to sing the same songs all over again on yet an­other tour if it wasn’t for a need for adu­la­tion?

Still, it has to be said that some of th­ese peo­ple are still mak­ing mu­sic of worth. Yes, out of courtesy to their loyal fans they drag out their best-known songs, but you have to hand it to at least a few of them: their lat­est al­bums kind of hit the spot. And in a live set­ting they’re still able to gen­er­ate an at­mos­phere that is not just nos­tal­gic but also, for some, op­ti­mistic. You’re think­ing, well, if Len­nie Co­hen can still hop about on stage like a spring lamb at the age of 78, there is hope.

It makes you won­der who might be on the her­itage/nos­tal­gia trail in 2033. What’s to stop the likes of Madonna, U2, Rob­bie Wil­liams and Take That step­ping out and flash­ing their egos, yet again, in the face of their fans? Stranger things have hap­pened.


Who they? Formed in Lon­don in 1964, The Who, above all other rock bands of that era, in­flu­enced fu­ture mu­si­cians who wanted to use ag­gres­sion as well as melody to make their mark. Clas­sic proto-punk songs such as My Gen­er­a­tion, Any­way Any­how Any­where and I’m a Boy set the tone for bands as di­verse as U2, Flam­ing Lips and Pearl Jam.

How old? Re­main­ing orig­i­nal mem­bers Dal­trey, 69, and Town­shend, 68.

Best mo­ment back in the day? Keith Moon’s whirl­wind drum­ming, Pete Town­shend’s wind­mill gui­tar style, John En­twistle’s bass solo on My Gen­er­a­tion and Roger Dal­trey’s big swing­ing mi­cro­phone.

Can they still cut it? In a live set­ting, yes, they still rock it hard and fast with a doozie of a back cat­a­logue. Sadly, their most re­cent al­bum, 2006’s End­less Wire, was a stinker.

Play­ing when? Satur­day June 8th, O2,



Who he? One of rock mu­sic’s finest song­writ- ers. His work is char­ac­terised by highly per­sonal and po­lit­i­cal lyrics, an un­par­al­leled stub­born­ness, fil­i­gree folk touches and a shred­ding gui­tar style that puts younger guitarists to shame.

How old? 67. Best mo­ment back in the day? Take your pick from his early folk al­bums, Af­ter the Gol­drush (1970) and Har­vest (1972), and his fan-dis­con­cert­ing gui­tar al­bums Ragged Glory (1990) and Weld (1991).

Can he still cut it? Christ, yes. This Cana­dian is still kick­ing against the pricks, his lat­est al­bum (with old chums Crazy Horse), Psy­che­delic Pill, is a gui­tar-heavy gem.

Play­ing when? Satur­day June 15th, RDS,



Who he? UK song­writer El­ton John has sold more than 250 mil­lion records through­out a four-decade ca­reer, mak­ing him one of the most suc­cess­ful record­ing artists ever.

How old? 66.

Best mo­ment back in the day? The first half of the 1970s saw John re­lease eight al­bums that quickly es­tab­lished him (with co-song­writer Bernie Taupin) as one of the finest pop tune­smiths of that decade.

Can he still cut it? In­evitably, qual­ity con­trol has suf­fered across the years, but lat­ter pe­riod al­bums such as 2006’s The Cap­tain & the Kid, and 2010’s The Union (with Leon Rus­sell), prove there’s cred in the salty old dog yet. Forth­com­ing al­bum The Div­ing Board promis- es to be a col­lec­tion of stripped-back, pi­ano-led songs.

Play­ing when? June 23rd, The Mar­quee,



Who he? Rod the Mod. Rod the Lad. Rodders. One of the best-sell­ing artists of all time – he has sold more than 100 mil­lion records world­wide, you know.

How old? 68.

Best mo­ment back in the day? As well as be­ing piv­otal in the for­ma­tion of good-time lads band, The Faces, Ste­wart pro­duced a string of solo al­bums in the late 1960s and early 1970s that have ef­fort­lessly stood the test of time: An Old Rain­coat Won’t Ever Let You Down (1969), Gaso­line Al­ley (1970), Ev­ery Pic­ture Tells a Story (1971) and Never a Dull Mo­ment (1972).

Can he still cut it? Ste­wart has al­ways been an en­ter­tain­ing live act, but only the most for­giv­ing fan could over­look his aw­ful Amer­i­can Song­book se­ries of al­bums and last year’s abysmal Christ­mas al­bum ( Merry Christ­mas, Baby). For the new al­bum, Time, Rodders has been writ­ing songs for the first time in decades. Frankly, it suits him.

Play­ing when? Satur­day June 29th, RDS,



Who he? The Boss, that’s who. And wipe that smile off your face when I’m talk­ing to you.

How old? 63.

Best mo­ment back in the day? Take your pick from his 1975 break­through al­bum, Born to Run, 1978’s Dark­ness on the Edge of Town, 1980’s The River, 1982’s Ne­braska, and 1987’s Tun­nel of Love.

Can he still cut it? Yes. 2002’s The Ris­ing,

2005’s Devil & Dust, 2007’s Magic, and 2012’s Wreck­ing Ball re­veal an artist who still mar­ries a keen so­cial and po­lit­i­cal con­science with songs that rock, roll and re­main on the right side of sin­cere.

Play­ing when? Satur­day July 20th, Kings Hall, Belfast; Satur­day July 27th/Sun­day July 28th, Nolan Park, Kilkenny.


Who he? Cana­dian poet, nov­el­ist and singer-song­writer, highly adept at ex­plor­ing in­ter­per­sonal re­la­tion­ships, sex­u­al­ity, re­li­gion, de­pres­sion and – quite mi­cro­scop­i­cally – the mean­ing of life.

How old?: 78. Best mo­ment back in the day? The aus­tere, but of­ten star­tlingly beau­ti­ful 1967 de­but,

Songs of Leonard Co­hen, and its 1969

fol­low-up, Songs from a Room.

Can he still cut it? Sur­pris­ingly, yes. Fol­low­ing a self-im­posed ex­ile, Co­hen re­turned in 2001 with the al­bum Ten New Songs. His lat­est al­bum, 2012’s Old Ideas, con­tains songs as good as any he has writ­ten.

Play­ing when? Wed­nes­day Septem­ber 11th/ Thurs­day, Septem­ber 12th, O2, Dublin.


Who he? Found­ing mem­ber of Pink Floyd, one of the cor­ner­stones of psy­che­delic rock mu­sic. Wa­ters has toured ex­ten­sively as a solo act for over 13 years.

How old? 69. Best mo­ment back in the day? As a mem­ber of Pink Floyd, he was in­volved in the cre­ation of era-defin­ing al­bums such as 1967’s The

Piper at the Gates of Dawn and 1973’s The Dark Side of the Moon.

Can he still cut it? Yes and no. His solo al­bums are dreary af­fairs, but his lav­ish tour­ing of the Pink Floyd al­bums The Dark

Side of the Moon and The Wall means Wa­ters can none­the­less jus­ti­fi­ably stake a claim for great­ness.

Play­ing when? Wed­nes­day Septem­ber 18th, Aviva Sta­dium, Dublin.


Who they? The band be­hind the clas­sic 1970s

al­bum Ru­mours. Nuff said. How old? The cur­rent mem­bers are Mick Fleet­wood (65), John McVie (67), Lind­sey Buck­ing­ham (63) and Ste­vie Nicks (65).

Best mo­ment back in the day? As a Bri­tish blues band, 1968’s Need your Love so Bad. As a re­con­fig­ured UK/US pop band, 1977’s


Can they still cut it? In a live set­ting, yes – they’re all highly pro­fi­cient mu­si­cians and vo­cal­ists who per­form the old hits very well.

Play­ing when? Fri­day Septem­ber 20th/Satur­day Septem­ber 21st, O2, Dublin.


Who he? The el­dest and last sur­viv­ing mem­ber of the Bee Gees. The Guin­ness Book of

Records claims Gibb as the sec­ond most suc­cess­ful song­writer in his­tory (be­hind Paul McCart­ney).

How old? 66.

Best mo­ment back in the day? There are sev­eral: the Bee Gees had a high suc­cess rate. Choose from 1960s hit To Love Some­body, 1970s hits How Deep is your Love and Stayin’ Alive, and 1980s hit You Win Again.

Can he still cut it? Dif­fi­cult to say, as his ap­pear­ance in Ire­land in Septem­ber marks his first solo tour. As a pop song­writer, how­ever, Gibb is vir­tu­ally flaw­less.

Play­ing when? Wed­nes­day Septem­ber 25th,

O2, Dublin.


Who he? A true-blue Amer­i­can hit maker across from the 19 70s through the 1980s and into the 1990s.

How old? 64.

Best mo­ment back in the day? The 1977 al­bum, The Stranger, and the 1978 al­bum, 52nd Street, con­tain the best ex­am­ples of Joel’s adult-con­fes­sional style.

Can he still cut it? He hasn’t re­leased a pop-ori­en­tated al­bum since 1993’s River of

Dreams, but the hits will carry him through the shows on his forth­com­ing win­ter tour.

Play­ing when? Fri­day Novem­ber 1st, O2,


Hope we get old be­fore we die: (clock­wise from far left) Leonard Co­hen (78); Ste­vie Nicks (65); Roger Dal­try (69) and Pete Town­shend (68); Rod Ste­wart (68); Bruce Spring­steen (63); Roger Wa­ters (69); Neil Young (67); Barry Gibb (66); Billy Joel (64); El­ton John (66)

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