FEATURE: Legends Have It: Throwing the Spotlight on the Artists Who Have Endured and Continue to Amaze




Legends Have It


Throwing the Spotlight on the Artists Who Have Endured and Continue to Amaze


I have written a few pieces this year regarding ageism in music...


 PHOTO CREDIT: @kylieminogue/Getty Images

and the fact we treat it less passionately than sexism. Any discrimination is bad and should be abolished - but how many of us take ageism as seriously as other forms of discrimination?! I feel like radio stations and festivals are rather cavalier and crude when it comes to age and the type of artists they feature. A lot of the radio stations in the country – and throughout the world – have definite age barriers and, depending on where you look, you have a set demographic and ‘sound’. One is less likely to see an artist over the age of, say, fifty on any of the younger stations…and there is a definite compartmentalisation. Festivals are culpable too and you do not often see a lot of middle-aged and older artists given big billing. Maybe some of the bigger festivals’ headline slots go to the icons and legends but what of any of the less-known older acts?! The reason I am writing this piece is the fact Kylie Minogue has been booked to play the ‘legend’ slot at next year’s Glastonbury. The Guardian have proved the details:

Kylie Minogue will perform the Sunday teatime “legend” slot at Glastonbury festival 2019.

The heritage act slot on the festival’s main Pyramid stage tends to draw the biggest crowd of the weekend, and has been filled in recent years by Barry Gibb, Lionel Richie and Dolly Parton. Festival organiser Emily Eavis said she was “delighted” with the booking, adding: “We cannot wait”...

It will be the first time Kylie has played a solo set at Glastonbury. She was due to headline the Pyramid stage in 2005 but had to cancel following a breast cancer diagnosis – Basement Jaxx replaced her, and fellow headliners Coldplay performed a cover of Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head in tribute. She also made a guest appearance with Scissor Sisters in 2010 for a performance of their song Any Which Way.

The only other act to have been announced for the sold-out festival is Stormzy, who will headline the Pyramid stage on Friday night”.

We have seen one headliner, Stormzy, announced for next year but I suspect the other two headline slots will be occupied by new acts too. There is talk of Sir Paul McCartney playing – more on him later – but one suspects he might be another booking in the legends category – accompanying Minogue at 2019’s Glastonbury. It is important to give big stages to newcomers and those coming through but I think, to a degree, we overlook those who have given so much to music. Consider someone like Kylie Minogue and how she has reigned since the 1980s. I grew up listening to some of her earlier hits and the infectious, giddy delight of songs like Hand on Your Heart and more modern cuts like Can’t Get You Out of My Head - they are hard to beat!


 PHOTO CREDIT: @kristsll/Unsplash

The fact those lucky enough to see Kylie Minogue at next year’s Glastonbury means they will get to hear her big hits alongside some newer material. I think she is someone who continues to provide magic and, even though Golden (her latest album) is a more Country-sounding offering, it is the sign of an icon adapting and not standing still. Whilst there has been a lot of praise regarding Minogue getting that booking; others are accusing Glastonbury of going with cheese and lacking any sort of cool. If they book artists that are deemed ‘fashionable’ and ‘in’ then that is very boring and exclusive. You cannot have festivals overloaded with the new or predictable. It would be a shame if Glastonbury booked newcomers for their headline slots next year or they just went with bands/acts that are currently trending. If you like Kylie Minogue or not then you cannot argue against her legacy and popularity. She has remained and inspired for decades and, in an industry where it is hard to survive, she is a guiding light for artists coming through. Ensuring she has that stage to shine on and remind people why she has remained in the heart for all this time is very important. I have been thinking about other Pop artists who have created a legacy and might not be the first in mind when it comes to the big festivals.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Christina Aguilera/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/Christina Aguilera

Consider other female acts like Britney Spears, Madonna and Christina Aguilera. I think all three are working on new material and tours – Spears is heading to the U.K. soon and Madonna is writing a new album – and they have each made their mark. I recall Spears and Aguilera coming into music in the late-1990s and early-2000s and being fresh and unexpected. It was a period where we needed those anthemic and bold artists to provide a sense of balance and fresh life. I am a bigger fan of Britney Spears’ work and love how she evolved as an artist. Both are huge American Pop pioneers and, although they are in their thirties, they are not going to be courted by the likes of Glastonbury or Coachella. I do think there is a definite sense of shelf life and festivals need to focus on what is modern and currently popular. Artists like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera continue to make great music and, even though their music is more mature than it once was, recognising what they have given music is essential. I am not sure which other legends will be playing Glastonbury next year but I think more space and focus should be given to acts that have helped changed music. Go even further back and think of all these icons we grew up around. I know Paul Simon has just retired from touring but think about some of his peers – such as Paul McCartney - and I think we should be giving these musicians as much time as possible.

 IN THIS PHOTO: Paul Simon/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

I think festivals are too dependent on what is considered to be mainstream and relevant; relying on newer acts or, when they go further back, not really celebrating older artists. Festivals such as Reading and Leeds have booked bands who were popular in the 1990s but think about the musicians who were ruling before that and how many get a proper platform? Maybe we have festivals, like Glastonbury, who have stages for legends but I think there should be natural consideration for the icons and pioneers – even if their glory days are in the past. Consider the recent excitement caused by Sir Paul McCartney when his Beatles bandmate, Sir Ringo Starr, took to the drums at one of his gigs – accompanies by a Rolling Stone, Ronnie Wood. How can you beat a moment like this:

“...And not just any friends - the 76-year-old was reunited with Sir Ringo Starr, 78, on drums and joined forces with Rolling Stone guitarist Ronnie Wood, 71. The supergroup lined up to perform The Beatles' 1969 hit Get Back at London's O2 Arena and close the UK leg of Freshen Up tour. Sir Paul stunned the sell-out crowd before the encore of his show on Sunday night, saying: "We've got a little surprise for you. It's a surprise for us, actually - it only happened today."

After the performance, Sir Ringo said: "I don't know about you, but that was a thrill for me.

"I'm just going to let that moment sink in," McCartney added as the two musicians left the stage”.

I hope Sir Paul McCartney gets a chance to play Glastonbury and the fact we have so much love and respect for these legends leads me to believe there should be more of a balance at festivals. Whether we are talking about Pop legends or the big bands who dominated in the 1960s and 1970s; it is not merely nostalgia having them on bills. I feel many people are too primed by what is recommended on streaming sites and digesting what is new and at the forefront. It is all very well dipping into the past and recognising the big musicians who have helped progress the industry – I feel like they warrant a lot more fondness and appreciation. Consider radio stations and how so many artists gets ignored when they get to a certain age. The likes of Kylie Minogue, Madonna; P!nk and Pete Waterman have spoken out against ageism and recognised that music, for the most part, is dedicated to the young. Even when you get to thirty you have to look over your shoulder and wonder whether you are going to be seen as relevant and ‘with it’ Some of the iconic artists in their fifties and sixties are producing their richest and most personal work to date. The music industry owes a debt of gratitude to artists who have survived and campaigned for decades and helped inspire the new generations.


 IN THIS PHOTO: Stormzy (the first confirmed headline act for next year’s Glastonbury)/PHOTO CREDIT: Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage

I am pleased Glastonbury have booked Kylie Minogue and the fact she will prove a more popular draw than their confirmed headliner Stormzy shows why we need to respect these legends who have done so much. It is, as I say, not just about looking back and getting that nostalgic blast. The modern output of the likes of Kylie Minogue, Sir Paul McCartney or someone like Johnny Marr (The Smiths’ former songwriter and guitarist) is hugely important and should not be written off. The only way the fans and musicians of the future will get to know where music came from and how it has changed is to see these titans in their element on the stage. We have streaming sites and can buy records of the legends but ensuring there is a stage where they can perform is crucial. It is always disappointing to see great artists excluded and marginalised by certain radio stations when they get older. Their legacy and role in music is being diminished and, again, so much attention and spotlight is given to the new and ultra-cool. I feel every station and festival should provide equal weight to the unsigned/newcomers, the modern mainstream and the legends of the past. Maybe music is so busy and packed that it is impossible to give an equal billing to everyone!


 IN THIS PHOTO: Bruce Springsteen/PHOTO CREDIT: Danny Clinch for Variety

I think we need to think about ageism and ask whether we give as much to the icons and legends as we should. From Minogue to McCartney through to Bruce Springsteen and the more recent Pop progressors – I feel having their music on stages every year is a no-brainer. If you head to Glastonbury and are lucky enough to see the legends play (I am not sure who else is going to be confirmed) then you get that wonderful blend of their new material and all the hits. I have looked back at Glastonbury festivals and, in recent memory, performances by Nile Rodgers (and CHIC) and Barry Gibb (the Bee Gees) have proved more popular than the headline acts! I have nothing against the new breed at all – and feel we need to show them as much love as we can – but due respect and warmth needs to be given to those legends who have managed to put out great music for so long. I know festivals around the world give a stage to the legends but more can be done. I would like to see radio stations being more inclusive and less ageist; festivals integrated legends more every year and, unless the greats of the past are given the chance to keep performing on the big stages then we risk a generation passing them by entirely. It is a long way off but I know there are thousands out there who have their Glastonbury tickets that are looking forward to Kylie Minogue taking to the stage and belting out her golden hits to the...

 PHOTO CREDIT: @v_well/Unsplash

ADORING and delighted masses.