The world of live rock music is still learning how to adjust in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Large-scale tours were pushed back months, or sometimes years, and even when concerts were rescheduled and repromoted, capacity restrictions and venue limitations meant some serious reconfiguration.
Nevertheless, as vaccination rates continue to increase around the world, many of rock’s biggest acts, eager to get back to doing what they love most, have either already hit the road again, or announced upcoming concert dates for the rest of 2021. Others – like Ozzy Osbourne, Roger Waters, Queen, Iron Maiden and more – will resume their touring schedules in 2022.
Others still have been noticeably quiet, as you’ll see in the below rundown of Rock Stars Who Haven’t Returned From COVID-19 Lockdown Yet.
While AC/DC have no upcoming shows scheduled, they still offered fans a treat in November when they released their 17th album, Power Up. A few weeks before its release, singer Brian Johnson hinted there could be a tour in 2021. “It would be lovely just to get out there, stand on that stage and just give it everything you’ve got,” he said on Joe Walsh‘s Old Fashioned Rock N’ Roll Radio Show. “It’s going to be the biggest roar you’ll ever hear in your life, when any band, anywhere in the world, stands up there.”
The future of Aerosmith‘s touring career has been uncertain for several years. In 2016, singer Steven Tyler implied that a farewell tour could happen soon, but he didn’t have specific details. “Look, there’s two bands that still have the original members: us and the Stones. I’m grateful for that,” he told Rolling Stone. “Whether we do a farewell tour or go into the studio and do another record, I’m just excited about it.” More recently, guitarist Brad Whitford noted that the pandemic postponements had definitely thrown a wrench into things. “The European tour, they tried to plan one last year, and they’re talking about next year,” he said. “It’s a pipe dream right now. Nothing’s gonna happen for a long time.”
It’s been nearly three years since Bad Company‘s last tour, a run of shows that included appearances alongside Cheap Trick and Lynyrd Skynyrd. Those shows were mixed between singer Paul Rodgers‘ own Stars Align tour, a co-headlining event that also featured performances by Jeff Beck and Ann Wilson. Since then, there’s been no word on additional tour dates. But last year, following the death of onetime Bad Company singer Brian Howe, Rodgers posted a video assuring some confused fans that it was not him who had died. “The reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated. I’m happy to say that I’m very much alive,” he said. “Yeah. Take care of yourselves and each other. I hope to play for you again soon.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Bon Jovi frontman Jon Bon Jovi was a bit wary of whether or not large-scale tours would even survive for the long haul. “I’ve read these articles that ’20 is out of the question, and ‘21 is possibly out of the question,” he told Howard Stern in April 2020. “So in ‘22 when they tell you can’t play to 50,000 people anymore, do you go, ‘Oh, well, I can’t tour the way we used to’? It’s all things to consider.” The band did offer some streamed concerts and drive-in showings, but as for now, onstage performances will have to wait.
Boston‘s last tour was four years ago, and even then, founding member and leader Tom Scholz found it challenging to fit in the time to play live, mainly due to his diligence in the studio. “The real problem was that I was always in the studio, being the writer, producer and guy that plays most of the instruments on the recordings,” he said in 2014, after touring the band’s sixth album, Life, Love & Hope. “I was in the studio for years on end working on those albums, and I simply didn’t have time to interrupt it with a tour.”
Last year was supposed to be a busy time for David Crosby, with multiple tours and performances with Phil Lesh, Joe Walsh and Jason Isbell. Even though he has a brand new album, For Free, Crosby is clearly still antsy about all the downtime. “I don’t want to be sitting at home,” he told Rolling Stone in April 2020. He also admitted that tendinitis has made it harder for him to play guitar. “I’m 78. [He turned 79 in August.] I only got a few years left. You know that. I don’t want to spend them sitting on my butt. I got a lot of music in me still.”
Bob Dylan‘s Never Ending Tour” has hit a hiatus; he last played a live show in December 2019. While it’s unclear just when he’ll perform next, he’s offered some tidbits to tide us over in the meantime. Most recently, he presented Shadow Kingdom — his first broadcast performance in nearly 30 years — for a pretaped selection of some of his songs filmed in a darkened speakeasy.
Electric Light Orchestra
Over the course of the past decade, Jeff Lynne‘s Electric Light Orchestra did quite a bit of touring – something the frontman wasn’t even planning. “I don’t know what happened,” he said to Variety in 2019, just before the release of the band’s 14th album, From Out of Nowhere. “I just got talked into it by somebody on the radio [in 2013] – it was for charity, and we only had two numbers. That’s all we practiced for, so we had to do ‘Mr. Blue Sky’ twice, because we hadn’t learned enough songs for the encore. But it went down so great that then the BBC invited us to the Hyde Park concert for Radio 2 [in 2014], and that’s what got us started, really.” Lynne’s 2020 tour dates were canceled and have yet to be rescheduled.
Christine McVie briefly implied in February that Fleetwood Mac‘s post-pandemic touring plans may not include all the members of the band. “If we do, it would be without John [McVie] and without Stevie [Nicks], I think,” she said on BBC Radio 2. “I think I’m getting a bit too old for it now – especially having had a year off. I don’t know if I could get myself back into it again.��� But one of her younger bandmates, Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell, who joined the group for their 2018-19 tour, was more optimistic. “We had a meeting and everybody said, ‘Let’s take a couple of years off and relax and do other things, and see how we feel in a couple of years,” he said. “And if everybody is engaged … we’ll reconvene and see what we can do. So, it’s up in the air.” Meanwhile, former guitarist Lindsey Buckingham will embarking on a solo tour in support of a new album.
Even though his former Genesis bandmates are launching an extensive tour later this year, Peter Gabriel will not be joining them. (“Peter left so long ago,” guitarist Mike Rutherford admitted to Rolling Stone, “I really don’t know what we could do with him now.”) Gabriel himself has no planned upcoming solo dates.
Earlier this year, guitarist David Gilmour made one thing clear: There will be no Pink Floyd reunion. “I’m done with it. I’ve had a life in Pink Floyd for quite a lot of years, and quite a few of those years at the beginning with Roger [Waters],” he told Guitar Player. “And those years in what is now considered to be our heyday were 95 percent musically fulfilling and joyous, and full of fun and laughter. And I certainly don’t want to let the other five percent color my view of what was a long and fantastic time together. But it has run its course, we are done, and it would be fakery to go back and do it again.” While Waters has announced a series of shows scheduled for 2022, Gilmour hasn’t made any plans for his own solo tour.
Ann and Nancy Wilson aren’t quite ready to bring Heart back on the road, but they’ve kept busy with personal projects. Ann, who recently announced an upcoming solo tour, released several singles, while Nancy released her debut solo album, You and Me. “I don’t think that getting back on the road means it’s going to return to the way it was a year and a half ago,” Ann noted in April. “We’re starting fresh; we’re starting from scratch. And whatever shows we do are going to be drastically different.”
Paul McCartney, fresh off the December release of McCartney III, has no upcoming tour dates, but he hasn’t appeared to have called it quits yet. In a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, the 79-year-old legend noted that for many musicians the idea of touring at age 80 and beyond is “unimaginable – and unseemly,” but he doesn’t necessarily view it the same way. “People say age is a number,” he said. “It’s a big number the older you get. But if it doesn’t interfere, I’m not bothered. You can ignore it. That’s what I do.”
The last time Stephen Stills went out on tour, it was with his former girlfriend, and the inspiration for his classic Crosby, Stills & Nash song “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” Judy Collins. That was in 2017-18, but he hasn’t made any rumblings about a solo tour lately. But his former bandmate Graham Nash is due to kick off some shows next spring.
When U2 wrapped up their 2018 tour in Berlin, singer Bono had some ominous words for the audience: “We’ve been on the road for quite some time, just going on 40 years, and the last four years have been really something very special for us,” he said. “We’re going away now.” To date, there’s been no explanation about just what he meant by that.
At one point, the Who‘s Roger Daltrey was set to play a short series of solo North American shows this summer, but those dates have since been canceled. “When I booked these shows several months ago, I was confident that things would be back to normal by August,” the singer explained. “But due to the uncertainty of the current travel situation and the challenges for a [U.K.] act to be able to perform in the [U.S.], I have reluctantly decided to cancel the shows.” The Who, meanwhile, have U.K. dates awaiting rescheduling, but for now, the band is exercising an abundance of caution. “”If one fan caught coronavirus at a Who concert,” Pete Townshend said, “it would be one too many.”
In February 2020, roughly a month before the pandemic struck, Neil Young warned fans not to get their hopes up. “Don’t expect anything,” he told a fan on his website who asked about live performances. “I am not focused on playing. I am taking care of my music.” Young did launch a series of virtual fireside sessions that were streamed online. A year later and Young is still biding his time. “No gigs planned until I am sure the audience is safe,” he said in June 2021.
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