Indie-pop shoegazers Lush reunited this year, their first shows together in almost 20 years, gap yah psychedelic types Kula Shaker released a new album and those Oasis reunion rumours just won’t go away. Britpop reunions, then – in the news again. But which Britpop reformations have worked in recent years, and which ones have fallen flat? Let’s see…
2003 wasn’t a great year for Brett Anderson and his raffish cohorts. After 2002 LP ‘A New Morning’ was critically mauled and fared badly in the charts, the quintet took stock and posted on their website that “there will not be a new studio album until the band feel that the moment is artistically right to make one”. That moment came in 2013 when, following a string of reunion dates – London’s O2 Arena among them – that were bigger than any venues they’d played in their prime, they released excellent new LP ‘Bloodsports’, thus righting a lot of wrongs.
Not sure if you’ll remember this little-known group from Essex? Oh wait, no, they’re still one of the biggest bands in the country. Things may have been rocky in Camp Blur by 2003’s Coxon-less LP ‘Think Tank’, but in December 2008, after a five-year hiatus, fans got the best Christmas present of all when all four band members confirmed they would be returning to the fold. The comeback began with two huge Hyde Park shows in June 2009 and continued with sporadic festival headline shows, two returns to the London outdoor space and finally ‘The Magic Whip’ – their brilliant, Hong Kong-inspired album released this April. In 2015, Blur are as strong as ever.
During the post-Britpop wilderness years, Shed Seven drummer Alan Leach became a wedding DJ. Oh dear. Thankfully, however, in 2007 he stepped away from the decks as the band embarked on a greatest hits reunion tour. Though Shed Seven never earned the kudos of some of their more noted Britpop peers, nostalgia proved a strong enough lure for the tour to become their biggest ever, with venues bumped up due to demand. A compilation album followed, as well as a 15-year anniversary tour of second LP ‘A Maximum High’ in 2011. They’re the Shed that keeps on giving.
It’s one of the great Britpop reunion travesties that Pulp decided not to release a new album after reforming in 2011. Still, at least there were some incredible shows – a triumphant Hyde Park headline in 2011 and a secret set on the Park Stage at Glastonbury the same year among them – and a ‘new’ single (‘After You’, recorded in 2001 but not released until 12 years later). And hey, maybe there’s some kind of savvy smarts in not risking their legacy on a new LP anyway. Let’s just keep telling ourselves that, yeah?
The London trio’s 2012 comeback album ‘Stand Upright In A Cool Place’ – the original line-up’s first since 1996’s ‘Free Peace Sweet’ – deserved a warmer reception than the lukewarm one it was given. It only charted at Number 76, but was a moving meditation on the passing of time set to sun-kissed melodies, reminding us that Britpop wasn’t just about ‘Parklife’.
Something of a Britpop punchline, the London four-piece are essentially a synonym for the worst excesses of the era. Their 2014 ‘reunion’ show at Bush Hall in London, meanwhile, barely even qualified as one: singer Johnny Dean cobbled together a new line-up to play a perfunctory run through of the hits, which were sadly thin on the ground. No wonder drummer Matt Everitt prefers life as Shaun Keaveny’s foil on the Radio 6 Breakfast Show.
The Liverpudlian Britpoppers released their comeback album ‘Troubled Times’ in 2012 and its title proved a sad omen: the record was a disappointed retread of the ’60s-influenced psychedelia that made their name, but with grimly uninspiring lyrics (“Maybe it’s gonna rain/Like never before in Spain“) and a distinct lack of hooks. A shame, because they weren’t half bad in their day.
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The London group’s orchestral quirks stood out from the crowd in the heady days of Britpop, with singer Jake Shillingford even more of a theatrical dandy than Brett Anderson (if such a thing were possible) and so a reunion had the potential to establish them as on the of the great, lost bands of the era. But their 2009 reunion in Koko and subsequent sporadic shows failed to herald a reappraisal, and they’ve not made much of an impression since.
While The Verve’s 2007 reunion and subsequent 2008 LP ‘Forth’ technically were well received (the album went straight to Number One in the UK), you could make for a strong case of nostalgia and positive thinking playing their part. You know how ‘Be Here Now’ sold bucketloads just because it was Oasis and then everyone collectively came to their senses? Yeah, that thing. Lacking the youthful, antagonistic angst that made the likes of ‘Urban Hymns’ so vital in their day, their noughties comeback just felt a bit sluggish.