The release of a new album is an exciting thing for both bands and fans. Bands will come out with different ideas, reveal how they have transformed since their previous album, and offer a look at unexplored aspects of their artistry. With each album, a dozen fresh, new, undiscovered songs come out for fans to dig into for weeks, searching for new emotions and sampling new musical styles. And of course these new songs will replace some of the old ones on a band’s concert set list. So, every new album also means that some old songs will rarely or maybe never again be played live.
I’ve been a big fan of Kings of Leon since I first heard them when I was in middle school. I was in love with every song that came out on every album. I listened to their whole discography almost every day. Back then, there was no “Mechanical Bull” or “Walls.” I don’t know how many times I watched the video of their 2009 London concert. It is just the definition of perfection for me; if I had a time machine, that concert would be the first place in time that I would go to. A few years later, I had a chance to see a Kings of Leon concert in Budapest, but I was too late: late by six years. “Mechanical Bull” had already been released and Kings of Leon weren’t a southern garage rock band anymore. There were new songs, new emotions and new stories, but none of them were for me. Actually, I think bands that have made more than five albums should sometimes give old-songs-only concerts for people like me.
However, it’s not always new albums that kill old songs. Sometimes it’s just an accident – for instance, one that causes a guitarist to lose his middle left finger, so that he will never be able to play some songs again: in other words, what happened to Jamie Hince of The Kills. After watching the duo’s concert video shot in Paris in 2011, before the accident, at least a few dozen times, I was too late again when I saw them at Pukkelpop in 2016. Although I also like their new songs, we’ll never again be blessed with “No Wow” as an opener; we’ll never again sing along with Alison Mosshart as she performs live “Future Starts Slow” or “Satellite” (the first songs by The Kills that I fell in love with).
The Dead Weather is an entirely different case. As this is a supergroup that includes Jack White of The Raconteurs, Alison Mosshart of The Kills, Dean Fertita of Queens of the Stone Age and Jack Lawrence of The Greenhornes, they can rarely come together as a band. After releasing two albums in 2009 and 2010, they performed their most recent concert in 2010. Although they were able to release a third album, “Dodge and Burn,” in 2015, they haven’t played a single show since 2010 due to the band members’ busy schedules. So until they find time to do a new concert, all we can do is watch their old concert videos again and again (the 2009 Paris concert is my favorite).
Then we come to fictional songs composed for the movies. If you’ve watched “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” (and if you haven’t, you definitely should, or at least listen to “Garbage Truck” and “Threshold” on YouTube), you’ll know about Sex Bob-Omb, a fictional band in the movie. Sex Bob-Omb actually performs real songs written by Beck, and they’re really, really good. We’re lucky because, despite the fact that they were actually recorded in the studio, the band is seen playing a few concerts in the movie. So we may say that we have semilive performance videos. However, since the band members are not actual musicians but actors, we’ll never have a Sex Bob-Omb concert in real life, which is a very sad thing.
So this is just the fate of some songs. We’ll never sing them along with thousands of other people, and we’ll never witness them being performed by the bands that created them, even though everyone who took part in the creation process is still alive and active.