Summer of reunions set

If you missed some of your favourite ’80s and ’90s bands the first time around, there’s a good chance you can catch them on the reunion trail this summer.

Tom DeLonge

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — If you missed some of your favourite ’80s and ’90s bands the first time around, there’s a good chance you can catch them on the reunion trail this summer.

Reunions, packaging and pricing are key this year as artists and promoters try to fill seats in a soft economy.

No Doubt and Phish may be most anticipated, but Blink-182, Creed, Jane’s Addiction and Fleetwood Mac also are back after breakups or long spells away.

Blink-182 singer Tom DeLonge says the California punk band is wiser than they were when they last toured in 2005.

“In the past we seemed to get bigger every time out, and we didn’t care. We’d cancel shows or show up without rehearsing,” DeLonge said recently. “Now everyone is taking it very seriously.”

There’s no dearth of blockbusters to choose from this summer. Coldplay, Green Day, Dave Matthews, Keith Urban, Jonas Brothers, Taylor Swift, Kid Rock, Rascal Flatts and AC/DC will be out. What may be the year’s biggest tour, U2, crank up in September.

The summer festivals are also hot tickets. Bruce Springsteen and Phish head Tennessee’s Bonnaroo in June. Bob Dylan, the Dead and Willie Nelson play Michigan’s Rothbury in July. Kings of Leon, Beastie Boys and Tool will be at Chicago’s Lollapalooza in August. Black Eyed Peas, Pearl Jam and Matthews top Outside Lands in San Francisco the same month.

A number of double and triple bills are making the rounds: Nine Inch Nails with Jane’s Addiction; Aerosmith with ZZ Top; Eric Clapton with Steve Winwood; Elton John with Billy Joel; Def Leppard with Poison and Cheap Trick; and Dylan with Nelson and John Mellencamp.

“I think the packaging is an outgrowth of the recession,” said Gary Bongiovanni, editor-in-chief of the concert industry publication Pollstar. “You can lower the ticket prices some, but another way is stronger support acts or co-bills. You may have already seen Eric Clapton, but if he’s with Steve Winwood, it may be a reason to go see him again.”

Artists and promoters are extra sensitive about prices this year. Swift, Urban, Blink-182, Nine Inch Nails and Crosby, Stills and Nash are all offering at least some tickets for about US$20. Several others start prices at about $30.

Tickets for the Vans Warped Tour with Bad Religion and NOFX begin at $23, while the basement price for the Mayhem Festival with Marilyn Manson and Slayer is only $12.

Summer is the most important season for the concert industry. Even with the recession, 2009 is shaping up to be a good year.

“Normally, promoters are quick to cry when things are not going well, and we’re not hearing that,” said Pollstar’s Bongiovanni.

Jason Garner, CEO for global music for Live Nation, the world’s largest promoter, explains the industry’s resiliency, using a hypothetical Nickelback fan in Omaha.

While that fan of the Vancouver-based band, which is touring the U.S. this summer with a stop in Toronto Aug. 9, might put off an expensive vacation to Hawaii, Garner said, he won’t miss that one-time show in Omaha.

“That Nickelback show . . . is the Kodak moment of that fan’s life,” he said.

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