Editorial: Farewell Tours Are Bullsh*t
I have never believed in a farewell tour. When a band announces a farewell tour, I assume they are simultaneously planning a reunion tour. As long as a band takes a break of six years or more, they can guarantee there will be a new generation of fans who will be over-excited to see them “in their lifetime” and will consequently come see their triumphant return.
For many bands that break up, it seems like the issue isn’t playing together, it’s touring together. It’s those long months on the road away from your family, crammed into a bus (or worse, a van) with a group of people whose endearing traits become fucking infuriating by week’s end. These days, unfortunately, playing live is the only real way to make a living doing music. Money is a consistent factor. Fenriz works at the fucking post office to pay his bills.
Here’s how it usually plays out: a band of some note decides to break up and tour one last time. The fans, turning the break-up into a funereal ritual, come out in droves, and the band makes a shit-ton of money. Suddenly, they’re staring at each other and thinking, You know, maybe the issues we’ve been having as a band aren’t so terrible that we can’t overcome them for more of this sweet, sweet cheddar. Let’s just not hang out all the time off-stage. We can probably make it work. And I can pay off my Saab!
Then again, the bands that make a big deal out of their farewell tours are the ones that are made up of the kind of human beings who will lie to get your money. The KISS Farewell Tour immediately comes to mind — they didn’t even take two years off before heading out on the road again. Ozzy had his “No More Tours” total joke of a farewell tour in the early ’90s. Motley Crüe are currently finishing their farewell tour (tours? I don’t know at this point) and it reeks of horseshit; you can already picture posters of Nikki Sixx smirking over the phrase, “Did You Miss Us?” or something to that effect. At least Judas Priest admitted they lied.
It seems like back in the day, breakups of any note occurred due to truly monumental shit, and therefore weren’t easy to overcome. Part of this was the mystique surrounding rock stars then — you couldn’t make a list of Ten People We’d Like To See Replace Ozzy in the ‘70s because Ozzy was a massive personality unlike any other out there. Part of it was still financial, because being a professional musician meant making a considerable amount of money; if you left a band like Guns ‘N Roses, it better be over drama so heinous that it’s worth losing the millions of dollars. I’m sure there were a thousand other small break-ups among independent bands then too and we just didn’t know about them, probably because they didn’t warrant a farewell tour.
You can call me a cynical bastard, and you’d be right. I’m also sure there are many of you ready with examples of farewell tours that did in fact end the band’s touring career, but I immediately challenge you that those bands have probably done festival shows and such in the following years. It seems like the tours that do end a band are accidental — the members go on tour able to tolerate each other, and by the end they fucking loathe one another. I always remember Rob Zombie saying he was out of White Zombie the minute he left the band’s last show. He walked offstage, and the band was over. That sounds honest to me, because it’s fueled by discontent. Doing a 100-plus date tour to say your band is over sounds like baiting your fans.
But maybe I’m wrong, and some bands have done it gracefully. Let me know in the comments section.