“You still turn me on” – Reflecting on the Big Reunion* (part 3)

Let me first start with the best news, there is a teaser available for the second season of The Big Reunion! And all the ‘rumors’ I heard during my research trip actually are confirmed in it. The second season will show the return to fame of Eternal, 3T, A1 amongst others, and a ‘superband’, 5th story, in which for instance Gareth Gates & Dane from Another Level participate. I really hope they’ll announce soon when their concerts are going to take place! For now, I’ll share some reflections on the phenomenon of the Big Reunion…

Almost a month ago I was in the UK to conduct small interviews and research about the phenomenon The Big Reunion (in which acts who where popular in the late 1990s are reunited for ‘the performance of a lifetime’). After a sold-out tour in May, the producers set up a ‘Christmas Party’ concert series, which toured five cities in the UK. Almost all gigs were sold out. I visited the concert in Birmingham, in the LG Arena, and I visited the O2 Arena in London. I did not attend the concerts at the O2, but I talked to many people who were standing in line to enter the arena. As the acts gave two shows in the arena, I had the opportunity to ‘do research’ three times, so in the end I talked (shortly) to over forty people. (If you happen to read this and have experience with how to call this process – mixture of small interviews + ethnography -, please leave a comment!) The majority of the visitors of the concert was aged between 20-40 years old. I think this fits the target audience of the television show, and this age group was the one growing up with the music from the acts (the heydays of 5ive, Atomic Kitten and Bewitched were the late ’90s/ beginning ’00s, so then these visitors were aged somewhere between 8 till 20).

Now, my research is still going on. I will not only analyze the concert itself, but since I talked to quite a few people, I will also do a short analysis of the reasons why people visit the concerts. I’m not finished yet, but I can already see a few patterns in my data. To be honest, I thought upfront that the television series of The Big Reunion was for most people the reason to visit the concert. I thought people would be interested to actually see the bands: either again or for the first time, or how they ‘still’ perform live (since the concert show has a high energy level, which is already shown in the preparations that were broadcasted on television + see the videos below). Surprisingly, many visitors attended the concert because – and this is very alike visiting a ’90s party – it evoked ‘childhood memories’, which is still a broad concept that carries different meanings for everyone. So, currently I’m exploring and discussing these patterns more in-depth in my paper. If you have to been to a Big Reunion and want to share your story, feel free to leave a reply 🙂

See here Atomic Kittens performance in the LG Arena, Birmingham:

And for the Christmas Party element of the show, 5ive performed a cover of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody, LG Arena, Birmingham:

*The title of this blog post might be a bit provoking, but I think it also employs a nice reflection on the Big Reunion.

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