Music to me is more than just music. It’s an ongoing soundtrack of my life. There’s no life event I’ve experienced that I haven’t related back to a song, or an album. My emotional connection to music is so strong that I have had to let go of albums I adore because they just, now, make me ache with the memories of people and places that I am desperately trying to forget. My life is intrinsically linked with my ongoing soundtrack and whether the soundtrack is currently Sylosis or Idlewild, it all matters.
Music snobbery is not something I have ever really had time for.
Apart from tribute acts. I never really understood the appeal. I love a good cover and hey, even a remix or mashup. A tribute act, though? Nah. Not for me.
This was my mindset until last year when I saw two tribute acts in the space of a month and I’m very happy to admit I was wrong. Seeing a tribute band is a special kind of magic that can’t be replicated at larger shows. They’re deeply uncool places to be. Nobody here is cool and nobody is pretending to be. It’s so so much better than cool, it’s real. The tribute acts I went to see were: She Street Band – an all-girl (!!!) tribute to Bruce Springsteen and Pearl Jam Alba – a tribute to Pearl Jam.
She Street was of my own volition. The only thing could possibly make The Boss better is an all-girl tribute act followed by a Springsteen Disco. The stuff of Sarah-Louise Kelly dreams, in all honesty. Pearl Jam Alba was for a friend’s birthday.
Tribute evenings are not only attended by some of the artists’ biggest fans, but they’re also performed by them. They’re a celebration of the music, a celebration of the lifestyle surrounding it. At the She Street Band’s evening, everyone was wearing denim in one form or another. We all did the Courtney Cox dance. We were all goofy and unapologetic in our enthusiasm. I danced with the performers at the Springsteen “Disco”, I spoke with them outside about our mutual love of Bruce and I went home thinking about how Badlands definitely is my favourite song of his. Probably.
At Pearl Jam Alba, the atmosphere was slightly different. It was mostly older, shaggy-haired men wearing leather jackets and plaid shirts. I’m used to this crowd but not the way that they were that night. These men weren’t there to solemnly nod along to songs and sip their pints. They were there to celebrate. They sang along, loudly, to every song. They hugged one another in excitement when favourite songs came on, they clutched their signed jackets and t-shirts whilst dancing to songs. They threw their bodies around, mimicking the frontman. They were incredible. The band were a lot of fun, too and the singer was remarkable but really, the true joy was found in watching the fans and their devotion to something that is so much more than just a band.
Going to see a tribute band is going to experience loving music in its purest, most natural form. It’s to truly live what it is to love an act. It’s not like any other live performance. It’s never going to be as good as the real thing but what I learned was, they’re not trying to be. I don’t know why I ever thought differently.
I’m going to see She Street Band again on October 9th in the Blue Arrow Jazz Club with two of my best friends and one of their dads. I can guarantee it’ll be one of my favourite nights of 2018. I’m so excited to celebrate Bruce with some of the biggest fans I know. I’m so excited to dance to the best songs. I’m so excited to feel the energy of a whole room, and a stage full of people who love him and his music.
If you’re in Glasgow and you love Bruce Springsteen, please come along. They are an absolute treat to see live. Tickets are available here (there has been a venue change since this listing.)