The omni-talent Jeff Lynne fronted his new ELO tour at the O2 arena and the crowd was made up the 50-plus generation. The show was sublime. Lynne’s replaying of old ELO classics was a journey back into what a mate calls our “immortality years”. Lynne
even played some of his very good new work.
Crushed on the Jubilee Line afterwards, it seemed to me that the lucrative pension schemes that these tours offer to aging rock stars and indeed to their aging franchise, represented at least a partial analogy with the great retail banks.
The songs remain good, if somewhat less relevant. The sound and set is magnificent. Production values have no cost spared. And crikey they know how to charge their public! The comfortable but aging audience go home happy and slightly sad that the experience
has been a show to remember, but may never be repeated. After all Lynne is 68 years old.
The banks are not daft. Nor is Lynne, nor the Stones, nor the Eagles. Gradually their voices fade, their music remains, but a new generation mostly wants new stars, new music, new shows. The banks know this. They too are facing up to the truths of mortality.
They can do a good gig still and from time to time release a new hot hit, but the process is slowing, the audience is shifting, the product is less relevant, the prices cannot hold.
But one thing the banks do have on their side is the ability to buy their way out of obsolescence. They can move from front of stage into production and management, buying up new talent, new performers, new ideas.
I am not sure the analogy goers much further, but it seems to me that the future for the banks is more back stage than lead act, as wholesalers and producers, funders, orchestrating a new future. Come to think of it, that is what some of the stars of yesterday
have already done in music, preferring to move from the spotlight to writing and producing.
So the music can go on, the shows can continue to delight, but the performers front of stage will be the new rock stars for a new generation who expect a modern product affordably priced.
It suggests that the banks of the future will be owned by the banks of the past, but the laser show and noise will be from their new, carefully nurtured acts. Being a rock star is, in Lynne’s words, “a living thing”. And just as for Lynne, their amazing
act is nearing the final encore.