Bands Reunited, R.I.P.

James Cassidy of Information Society

A few days ago, I lamented the death of VH1 as a true music channel, watching it fall victim to the “If it’s naked, it’s news” maxim. That got me thinking about the old “Bands Reunited” show that aired for a few seasons on the channel.

The show chronicled the effort to reunite members of an old, now defunct band – for one final show. Host Aamer Haleem went globe-trotting trying to track down former members of ABC, A Flock of Seagulls and Romeo Void, who were usually grayer, heavier and no longer performing in any way. Haleem usually ambushed the band mates as they ate dinner or worked at their jobs, asking them on-camera to reunite in a way that rarely got a negative response. Then after a sometimes-awkward reunion (depending on how the band broke up), the band would dust off their instruments, try to remember the words and chords to their hit songs, and play a few days later to a jam-packed crowd of Gen-Xers.

My favorite episode was probably when the show reunited The Alarm, a Welsh band that tried very hard to be U2. Haleem found drummer Nigel Twist in a cubicle in the San Francisco Public Defenders Office. As the lights and cameras all rushed over to Twist’s cube, his office co-workers huddled around in wonder as the seemingly mild-mannered investigator by day blinked like a deer in the headlights. Someone wondered out loud if he was being profiled for the TV show “Cheaters.”

I found it fascinating to watch some people relive the years gladly, almost touched that someone still remembered who they were. Others found the spotlight uncomfortable and squirmed during the interviews and reunion, reluctant to relive bad memories and relationships gone sour. And some reunions fell through as former friends refused to bury the hatchet on an old feud.

Of course, seeing how Limahl from Kajagoogoo had aged was entertaining, a sort of “Where Are They Now?” vignette inside the show itself. And somehow, despite paunchy bellies, smoothed-over fingertip callouses and memories debilitated by drugs and real life, the band members came together to sound just as good as they did 20 years ago.

Every once in a while, Vh1 will rerun some episodes – usually when they’ve run out of soft porn, low-budget countdown shows. If you can catch an episode, it’s worth it.