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Last Updated: Monday, 28 May 2007, 08:53 GMT 09:53 UK
Tribute bands rock at Glastonbudget
By David Sillito
Arts correspondent, BBC News

Jonny Rotter at the Glastonbudget festival
Jonny Rotter first learned of John Lydon on TV show I'm a Celebrity...
Welcome to Glastonbudget.

It has the tents, rain clouds and bizarre fashions you would expect at the annual Glastonbury festival.

However, it's not the Red Hot Chili Peppers who are playing - it's the Dead Hot Chili Peppers. Rather than Oasis, it's Oasish.

Thousands are camping out in the rain to see copies of their favourite bands in a field near Loughborough.

It's the low-cost, easy-access alternative to Glastonbury, and what it lacks in genuine stars, it makes up for in hits, with bands playing all the classics.

It's just a taste of what is now available throughout Britain.

Patrick Haveron, of Psycho Management, represents 237 tribute bands and is creating more.

He's in the midst of setting up a Razorlike and has spotted a new gap in the market - the Spice Girls. In 2000 he used to have 12 such tribute bands on his books. They faded out, but he feels the time is right for a revival.

"We now have four Take That tributes and they are all selling out. I don't understand why four blokes singing to a backing track is so popular, but it is," explains Mr Haveron.

Strong competition

Meanwhile back at the festival, Pink Fraud are setting up.

Some bands may treat it all as a bit of a giggle, but not this one. They even have some of Pink Floyd's original gear and their guitarist proudly displays one of David Gilmour's own plectrums.

Slash from tribute band Guns 2 Roses
Guns 2 Roses, who formed in 2002, were among the bands on stage
What began as a shared passion for Pink Floyd's '70s albums has turned into an elaborate attempt to recreate the look, sound and feel of being at a Floyd gig in 1975.

Pink Floyd might never be able to recapture that moment, but Pink Fraud reimagined the entire theatrical experience.

If you squinted, the wigs, flares and backdrops could just about convince you that you had stepped back in time.

But it is a competitive market. They claim there are currently 37 Pink Floyd tribute acts in Britain, with more appearing all the time.

Of course, the ups and downs of the tribute world reflects wider musical trends.

The lead singer of Oasish is also in the Stereotonics, but he no longer plays in a Police tribute band. He much prefers being Liam Gallagher to being Andy Summers.

However, with The Police set to go back on the road, there's scope for a new batch of Stings.

Burt Cocaine from Teen Spirit
Burt Cocaine from Teen Spirit began performing after Kurt Cobain died
The problem, according to Mr Haveron, is that it's hard to find a good Sting. More difficult still is a convincing Freddie Mercury - but he's never had too much trouble with a fake Gary Barlow.

Tribute bands began in Australia as a solution to the problem of bands not touring in the Antipodes.

In Britain, it is largely a small-town phenomenon. The gradual erosion of the musical generation gap has opened up music to Britain's teenagers that they never had a chance of seeing performed live.

Kurt Cobain died in 1994, so Burt Cocaine in Teen Spirit has spent 12 years giving people an eerily accurate recreation of seeing Nirvana at their height.

Jonny Rotter can swear and snarl as if the Golden Jubilee was still taking place, though two years ago he hadn't even heard of John Lydon, lead singer of the Sex Pistols.

It was only when he saw the former punk on I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here that he picked up a CD and his life was changed.

Passion for music

This is the answer to overpriced stadium gigs, and while it might attract some sneers, it reflects a demand for something the mainstream music industry hasn't been providing.

Several tribute bands can now fill London's Royal Albert Hall, and Pink Fraud will themselves be playing at this year's Glastonbury.

Indeed, the whole event feels very "punk" in the sense that this is homegrown, do-it-yourself music, far beyond the corporate music industry.

The lead singer with tribute act Dead Hot Chili Peppers
Leeds-based act The Dead Hot Chili Peppers were also taking part
They might not write their own songs, but the bands are passionate about the music and don't (for the most part) take themselves too seriously.

Self-indulgent rock pomposity is pointless because if you don't give the fans what they want then there is always another version of the band in the wings.

It is a sort of free-market folk culture, where people have taken control of the music and made it their own.

Amongst fans there was a keen sense of getting one over on bands who rarely play venues they can reach or afford. Some felt the tribute bands were often better than the real thing.

The Antarctic Monkeys, the tribute version of the Arctic Monkeys, were highly praised by several other bands backstage.

But there was a word of warning from Mr Haveron.

"If you want to play on a big stage with an adoring crowd, then this is the way forward," he said.

"Unfortunately when you take the wig off and step off stage people don't know who you are, and it is a bit disappointing."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Some of the tribute bands on offer at Glastonbudget



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