It seems that every big name in pop and rock music is back on the road these days, despite the soft economy.
Venues around the Southland are opening their doors to Boomer and Gen X fans who haven't worn side ponytails since the '80s or flannels since the '90s, but are once again rocking the look — as well as their tatty band T-shirts — to relive their glory days.
Keen to the trend is the Orange County Fair, whose theme for this year's month of fun from July 16 to Aug. 15 is "The Beat Goes On." Accordingly, the fair's annual concert series is packed with tributes to some of the biggest names in the world — as well as appearances by the real deal, including Train, Faith Hill, Blue Öyster Cult, ZZ Top and the B-52s.
But this summer also has seen a slew of tour cancellations, from Christina Aguilera to the Eagles; 10 shows of the newly returned Lilith Fair have been canceled due to slow sales, along with seven stops on the American Idols LIVE! Tour.
One of the most surprising postponements this summer was the second round of U2's gargantuan 360° Tour (and 170-ton, $40-million stage), which tore through Los Angeles last year in a much-feted series of shows that culminated in a bestselling live DVD.
Lead singer Bono suffered an accident while rehearsing in Germany just two weeks before the North American leg of the tour was to open, resulting in emergency back surgery and doctor's orders for months of rehabilitation and rest.
More than one million ticketholders were left showless for 2010, including tens of thousands of fans in Southern California who had planned to go to summer shows at venues like Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
Many have turned to tribute acts like Orange County-based The Joshua Tree, which seeks to emulate the boys from Dublin by using the same equipment, costumes and sound. Such tribute bands are taking the stage at concerts in parks and fairs around the country.
Like the band it impersonates, The Joshua Tree has seen its own share of unexpected opportunities since it played the O.C. Fair last summer. The band announced recently that its singer has departed the band, and the band is now seeking a replacement.
"The search for a new singer is going well," said guitarist Chas Alm, who performs as the Edge. "We have had several people respond wanting to audition, and more coming in every day."
Alm said the challenge is to find someone who is a great singer and who can mimic Bono's style.
"We have had some good singers audition with more scheduled to come in," Alm said. "We are committed to taking our time and finding the right person. We have been videotaping the auditions and showing the tapes to some of our longtime JT fans that are diehard U2 fans to get their feedback."
In the meantime, Shawn Brady, a singer from another world-class tribute band, Canada-based Elevation, will sing with the Joshua Tree at the O.C. Fair show.
"Brady is an amazingly talented performer and a really great guy," Alm said. "I first spoke with him seven years ago when we started The Joshua Tree, and he and his bandmates have been friends ever since. As a band, The Joshua Tree has always strived to capture that special something that makes seeing the real U2 live an amazing experience. Brady and his band also capture that something special, and I know he can help us make July 24 at the O.C. Fair a great night."
Along with the appearance at the Fair, The Joshua Tree has played throughout Southern California and Las Vegas, including the latter's Fremont Street Experience, where more than 30,000 people attended a New Year's Eve party.
But above all, Alm said, the band is composed of everyday folks with outside lives, who do what they do for the love of the music.
"We plan to continue with The Joshua Tree as long as it is still fun," Alm said. "We have always said if playing shows ever felt like work, then we would know it was time to stop. We all have professional careers and families that are very important to us. Where some people spend their weekends playing golf or working on home-improvement projects, we play in a tribute band. Life is good."
If You Go
What: The Joshua Tree, U2 tribute band
When: 8:15 p.m. July 24
Where: The Hangar, O.C. Fair, 88 Fair Drive, Costa Mesa
Cost: $12.50; includes fair admission
Information: OCfair.com or u2jt.com
Los Angeles Times Summer Concert Series at Pacific Amphitheatre:
The Pink Floyd Experience
Blue Oyster Cult
Sammy Hagar and The Wabos
w/ DJ Richard Blade
The Fab Four
Sgt. Pepper's Experience
Joan Jett & The Blackhearts w/Cherie Currie
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Nightly Entertainment at the Hangar
Wild Child: Jim Morrison Tribute
Blasphemous Rumours: Depeche Mode Tribute
Dog 'N' Butterfly: Heart Tribute
Michael Jackson LaserSpectacular
Pink Floyd LaserSpectacular
Hotel California: Eagles Tribute
The Joshua Tree: U2 Tribute
Royal Crown Revue
Vitalogy: Pearl Jam Tribute
Journey Unauthorized: Journey Tribute
Led Zeppelin Live with Heartbreaker: Led Zeppelin Tribute
Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez
Purple Reign: Prince Tribute
Wild Child: Jim Morrison Tribute
Mark Wood and the Parrot Head Band: Jimmy Buffet Tribute
Sweet & Tender Hooligans: Morrisey/Smiths Tribute
Jumping Jack Flash: Rolling Stones Tribute
The Grascals – Bluegrass
Colin Hay of Men at Work
Aug. 13Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun