I want to be the creator of a band called The 19Graties. We will do covers of songs from the 1980s. They will be great, but we want to give the impression – in a cool, detached, ironic-but-chic way that they might actually grate. And there will be 19 of us in the band. So it’s all at once the most clever and obvious band name. The instrumentation/lineup breaks down like this:
3 Keyboards: 1 piano/1 synth/1 electric keyboard
4 guitarists: 1 lead, 2 rhythm, 1 (underpinning) acoustic
1 bass player
5 singers (these will rotate, take turns being backing singers – all will share the spotlight)
+ 1 dancer; obviously the backing singers will dance but all the great 1980s bands had a dedicated dancer; said dancer will need to be expert in the ways of Bez and the rock/pop version of trance music’s adopted “running man” whilst also able to perfect the Peter Garrett from Midnight Oil stiff-legged dance routine.
We won’t – as such – be a rap band. But obviously we’d like to look at songs like Herbie Hancock’s Rockit hence the DJ. (We may even add an actual rap-medley…?)
I only have one (serious) question to raise at this point: how good does this sound?
Okay, okay, before we continue – I feel the need to add that this band will be performing a ‘show’ rather than the proletarian act of concerts/gigs. Therefore, the 19Graties will be backed by a state-of-the-art (as-at-1984) laser show; backed also by video screen footage of classic moments from films like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Desperately Seeking Susan, Footloose, Fame, Flashdance and A Night On The Town.
Right, so with that in place it is also worth pointing out that the rationale behind five (alternating) lead singers is not merely to bolster the numbers so that the band reaches the requisite 19. No, no. One singer must be able to do Morrissey/Edwyn Collins/Frankie Goes To Hollywood/Duran Duran; one should be adept at covering Bryan Ferry/David Bowie/ABC/Tears For Fears/Go West. One (female, most likely) will need to be able to pull out a true blue Madonna, not to mention she-bopping her way through anything by Cyndi Lauper. Another singer can handle any Prince/Michael Jackson/Rick James/Lionel Ritchie – and of course there’s also Tina Turner (though the guy/girl doing Prince/MJ/RJ and Lionel might be able to summon a turn at Tina?) We’ll also need a singer to flawlessly recreate the Kiwi contingent – which may extend to include Dave Dobbyn, Neil Finn/Tim Finn, Martin Phillipps and – sure, why not? – Annie Crummer.
As at this stage, rehearsals pending (and I’m really thinking as the Kim Fowley-like Svengali in the whole caper, also read: Peter Urlich) I could sell this deal, including – obviously – the rehearsal process – as a reality TV show.
With that in mind, here’s a first-attempt set-list (with bracketed explanations/justifications):
1) Welcome To The Pleasure Dome – Frankie Goes To Hollywood (an obvious opener, grandiose, absurd but full of life and colour; like the very concept)
2) Is There Something I Should I Know – Duran Duran (big, dumb, loud fun. Need I say more? Probably. But can I? In a word: no)
3) Get Into The Groove – Madonna (by track 3 in a set-list it’s well-time the 19Graties were into the, erm, groove)
4) The Look Of Love – ABC (if you’re going to do faux-Bowie it might as well be this faux-Bowie, right?)
5) More Than This – Roxy Music (…and if not that faux-Bowie then this one? Actually that’s mean to Bryan Ferry – and to David Bowie…)
6) Cat People – David Bowie (…and if not THAT faux-Bowie then, finally, this one? Actually that’s mean to David Bowie, but then, so was his whole post-Serious Moonlight persona)
7) Need You Tonight – INXS (this is a great song, the sort of song you’d like to tie up and thrash till its black and blue! Ooh – too soon?)
8) Hello – Lionel Ritchie (Hello?!??!?!)
9) How Soon Is Now – The Smiths (how soon is half-time in this gargantuan set?)
10) When The Doves Cry – Prince (give the bass player a rest)
11) Rockit – Herbie Hancock (give the musicians a rest)
12) Don’t You Forget About Me – Simple Minds (don’t you, doe-doe-doe-don’t you forget about this song!)
13) Super Freak – Rick James (Supercool: I’m (In A) Rick James (Costume) B’arch)
14) All Through The Night – Cyndi Lauper (this gig will actually go all through the night so it doesn’t matter when this song is played – it just becomes more ironic the further down the list it is placed)
15) Billie Jean – Michael Jackson (what time is bed-time at MJ’s house? When the big-hand is on the little-hand. Yeah-yeah, whatever peeps; this is still a cool-as(s) song)
16) We Don’t Need Another Hero – Tina Turner (where else are we going to take this bad-boy?)
17) Always Something There To Remind Me – Naked Eyez (A great Burt Bacharach cover, perhaps the best? And the band had that good ‘z’ in their name. Besides, the synth player was getting bored…)
18) Doot-Doot – Freur (The Rolling Stones song ‘Do Do Do Do Do’ is the wrong era. The Police song ‘De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da’ is pants. And besides the European ironists in the audience that lap this sort of show up were getting bored. Well, more bored)
19) Nineteen – Paul Hardcastle (The average age of an audience member in this gig will not be na-na-na-na-nineteen. The average amount of time that has lapsed since the average audience member left their house for a show this good will be na-na-na-na-nineteen years. And this whole thing’s about meta-ironies right? Well this remix – the DJ was getting bored – will go for na-na-na-na-nineteen minutes and will be the set-closer and encore all in one. Na-na-na-na-nice!)
Right, so with that as a first set-list in place, and pending confirmation that Butterfly P.I.G. will reform to be the local support act, only one question remains now:
Who’s coming with me? If I book this, will you come?