Nostalgia is big business in Dubai. In the busy winter season, barely a week goes by without a one-hit wonder stopping by these shores in a bid to reverse their fading fortunes. Part of it, we’re sure, is a matter of money and availability. But we’re also convinced there’s something about the similar age and shared experiences of Dubai’s expat population that makes the city a breeding ground for nostalgia.
With one of the biggest retro bills we’ve seen planned for the Mixtape Rewind festival at Emirates Golf Course on Friday November 16, we spoke to Go West guitarist Richard Drummie and Ace of Base’s Jenny Berggren to create a ten-part plan for how once-big bands can go about reinventing themselves in 2012 – credibility optional.
1 There’s no shame in rolling out the hits.
None at all – even if you’re on your own without the band who helped make them. Jenny Berggren, 40, is touring Ace of Base’s back catalogue solo. ‘People want to hear the old stuff, but I’m doing them with my own productions. Since it’s me singing the whole thing, it’s not going to be the same show.’
2 Don’t worry about writing any new material.
Among the worst offenders on the Mixtape bill are Snap!, who haven’t brought out an album of new material since 1995, while La Bouche and Culture Beat haven’t since 1998. Richard Drummie, 53, of Go West, says the band won’t play any new songs in Dubai. ‘We know what people are coming for. The worst words you can hear at a concert are, “I’m playing my new album in its entirety.”’
3 Your old material can help to tell your story.
Jenny says, ‘At first I felt like I didn’t want to be one of those artists. [But] since the business is going the way it’s going, I found it’s the perfect way to come across with my story.’
4 It’s okay to bury the hatchet.
Snap! broke up between 1996 and 2005, while Go West broke up for seven years from 1993, and were lured back to the stage with a lucrative gig offer seven years later. ‘Back in 2000 my manager phoned and said, “Do you want to do one of those ’80s shows?”’ remembers Richard. ‘I said no. He said, “It’s at Wembley.”’ The band later made a new record in 2006.
5 Be prepared to go it alone, but don’t worry if no one likes it.
Berggren released her debut solo album, My Story, in Sweden in 2010, where it charted at number 48. ‘I knew it would be received that way,’ she says. ‘We’ve always had a funny reception in Sweden.’
6 But keep your options open in case it doesn’t work out.
‘The rest of the band are doing other things,’ Jenny adds. ‘We’re just wishing each other luck at this stage. I have a dream that we’ll get back together, so I don’t want to bang anyone on the head.’
7 Don’t give up the day job.
‘Go West doesn’t take up seven days a week,’ says Richard. ‘I still have time to work with other musicians. I don’t really mind [doing the nostalgia circuit] because it gets us out and about. It’s another option.’
8 Don’t feel you have to squeeze into tight trousers any more.
‘We enjoyed going out wearing clothes you wouldn’t wear in civilian lives,’ says Richard. ‘We weren’t very thought-out in the image department. Now we just wear shirts and jeans.’
9 Rip off the competition.
No Mercy had a 1996 hit with a cover of La Bouche’s ‘Where Do You Go’ from two years earlier. Who will play it first on the night?
10 Realise where you went wrong.
‘We turned down the Bond theme,’ remembers Richard. ‘It was for The Living Daylights. We said, “We can’t sing something called ‘The Living Daylights.’” That was dumb. We could have just called it something else.’
Mixtape Rewind takes place at Emirates Golf Club on Friday November 16, www.timeouttickets.com
Mixtape: the bill
Who: British pop duo.
Last chart hit: 1993.
The one you might remember: ‘We Close Our Eyes’ (1984).
Who: American dance trio.
Last chart hit: 2002.
The one you might remember: ‘Where Do You Go’ (1996).
Jenny Berggren of Ace of Base
Who: One quarter of the Swedish pop hitmakers.
Last chart hit: None solo – the band’s last notable international hit was in 2002.
The one you might remember: ‘All That She Wants’ (1993).
Who: German Eurodance collective.
Last chart hit: 2003.
The one you might remember: There have been three re-releases of 1992’s ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’ (in 1996, 2003 and 2008).
Who: German Eurodance duo.
Last chart hit: 1999.
The one you might remember: ‘Be My Lover’ (1995).
Who: Trinidadian-German singer.
Last chart hit: 2005.
The one you might remember: ‘What is Love’ (1992; with remixes in 2003 and 2009).
Who: More German Eurodance.
Last chart hit: 2003.
The one you might remember: ‘Mr Vain’ (1993, plus reworking ‘Mr Vain Recall’ in 2003).