Stevie G: Are we in the age of comebacks?

Anything can happen in music and there’s plenty of comebacks taking place at the moment, so says Stevie G in his weekly column
Stevie G: Are we in the age of comebacks?

Microdisney will be playing their last ever gig in Cyprus Avenue on Tuesday, February 19.

Music comebacks are one of those things you can never really rule out. It really is a case of ‘never say never’. Anything can happen in music and there’s plenty of comebacks taking place at the moment.

Irish hip-hop legends Scary Éire play their first proper gig in many years on Patrick’s Day in Dublin.

The most important group in Irish rap history blazed a notorious trail back in the day, even though most of their output only became properly available many years later. From the highs of being signed to Island records and opening for U2, Scary Éire burned brightly, but sadly disintegrated for a number of reasons before they could really fulfill their potential.

They played a legendary gig in Sir Henry’s in 1994 — probably the first proper hip-hop show ever in Cork. Scary Éire never really went away and the likes of Rí Ra continued to pursue a career making some great solo tracks, while DJ Mek remains revered among DJs, not just here but also abroad. He is, quite simply, one of the most talented DJs ever to come out of Europe and his skills will remain at the cornerstone of the forthcoming live show in Dublin.

What brings them all back together? It may well simply be the cash, but the timing is also good. Time can not only magnify the greatness of much music, it can also heal previously tense relationships. With Scary Éire, it seems a perfect time to come back and remind everyone how important they once were.

Whether they will ever record again remains to be seen, but it’s good that many will get to see them at least once in their lifetime.

Microdisney are also coming back very soon, but this is very much a goodbye. One of Cork’s greatest ever groups, Microdisney were one of many great bands at the time who should have been a lot bigger, but they remain widely respected here and abroad.

The likes of Cathal Coughlan and Sean O’Hagan went on to have considerable success elsewhere, but after a brief taste last summer, they have confirmed that the forthcoming Cyprus Avenue show will be their last ever gig. Speaking of Cork music legends from that era, there is a talk of a 30th anniversary show in Cork too this summer to mark the death of music legend Finbarr Donnelly of Five Go Down To The Sea.

The Sultans of Ping FC were another legendary Cork band, from the following decade, who made a really successful comeback, and their live shows were as good as ever when they returned.

Moving further afield, there have been notable comebacks too. The Pixies were always a great band and many youngsters who grew up with them only got to see them live for the first time in recent years. They played Cork too, which was great, and though their recorded output is never gonna receive the same adulation it once did, they can still class their comeback as successful.

A Tribe Called Quest were another group who many thought they’d never see again, though had made some sporadic comebacks on both record and the stage after what was initially a fairly bitter separation. This was highlighted in the Beats Rhymes and Life documentary which suggested a full comeback was unlikely — but they did manage to record one full comeback album before Phife’s death and they also did what will surely be a farewell tour shortly afterwards.

Their show at the Electric Picnic a few years ago was one of their final ones, and while it was great to see them live in Ireland, it was also fairly apparent that the time had come to call it a day.

Hip-hop is one of those genres where you can never quite trust a retirement anyway! Jay-Z is one of the famous cases of someone who supposedly retired at the top of his game, but the comeback was always inevitable.

It all adds to the drama. Some comebacks are more financially motivated though and it’s fair to say that Lauryn Hill’s tax difficulties may have motivated her to pursue some of her most recent tours. It’s no secret that she isn’t the biggest fan of the music industry, but her recent Dublin show was, at least, a triumph. The same can’t be said for some other tour dates.

Comebacks can damage some legacies, but mostly they give old and new fans alike even more reason to enjoy much-loved acts.

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