The art of imitation - A tribute to the tribute acts

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Feb. 2, 2017, 11 a.m.

Comedian Athena Kugbleno has performed on bills such as; Omid Djalili, Richard Blackwood and Dane Baptiste! Join her as she gives us her view on Tribute acts!

It is a shame such acts are made to suffer for their art. People can’t wait to tell you they are lawyers or accountants but the individuals most likely to be coy about their employment, other than parking attendants, are the people who pay their bills by pretending to be more successful people for a job.

These performers deserve our respect! The world’s biggest stars all had humble beginnings. When they were nobodies with bad hair and cheap shoes you may have been able to see them at long forgotten venues in Tottenham, Edmonton Green and Enfield Town – I know that Elton John and Rod Stewart have both been lucky enough to play The Regal on Fore Street. I bet Cliff Richard dropped into a few open mics in Winchmore Hill. Now, because they have a millions more in pounds and Twitter followers, you would be lucky to spot these icons in anything smaller than the O2 Arena. Why go to the people when the people go to them?

Their tribute acts occupy venues celebrity egos long ago vacated. And whilst doing so, continue a long tradition of celebration via imitation. Talent is oozing out of every corner in north London but we are so preoccupied with fame, we forget to look for it closer to home. If you think Adele’s voice is magnificent, then you have to give the same credit to someone whose voice is exactly the same. It takes incredible bravery and skill to look at an act thought of as uniquely gifted and emulate without fault everything they do with only a fraction of the adulation or material gains.

Tribute bands get established acts new fans too. Long ago (longer than I care to admit), I left my London enclave for university and was surprised to be treated to a ball. I quickly learned that at university, everything is called a ‘ball’ and this was only a cave full of bad dancing and turbo shandies*. I was impressed by one aspect of the entertainment; a band called Gidea Park who played some pretty fun music. It was only a few months later whilst watching Top of the Pops 2 I realised they had been playing songs by a little known band called The Beach Boys. In those days I was into Reebok Classics and Puff Daddy. Gidea Park’s musical education was as enlightening as my formal one.

If you wanted to get the younger members of your family into the Rolling Stones, would you really trust men of a certain age, with bodies ravaged by drugs and hedonism, to deliver the energy and exuberance associated with their heyday? If you see the real thing, you see the Rolling Stones of today. See a tribute, go back in time and see them as they should be enjoyed, for a fraction of the price too.

There are fantastic venues on your doorstep showcasing the talent that remembers its roots whilst memorialising the local talent that went stratospheric. Instead of watching millionaires in Row Z of Wembley Arena, watch the real grafters shine in front of your very eyes. Let the mountain come to you.

*a lemonade flavoured alcopop, topped up with lager. My generation’s tribute to the shandy.

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