The 90s – pre-streaming, dance-craziness and a decade I can just about remember!

Being a musician, you often cover a wide range of styles and genres, and running an entertainment consultancy you hear and watch anything and everything music wise on a daily basis. This year alone, I’ll be performing everything from The Beautiful South hits, to Michael Buble through to The Carpenters, from Phil Collins to James Brown, Bobby Darin to Chaka Khan, Miles Davis to Stevie Wonder, I could go on…

The truth is that the LIVE music industry now is based on nostalgia and looking back, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t have a problem with it because, lets face it, there’s lots of great music to look back on and celebrate, but the only decade that feels truly nostalgic and warms my heart to play and listen to, is the 90s (and early noughties). This is not because I don’t care for other bygone eras, in fact the 80s and 90s are probably the decades I listen to music from least, mainly because I’m learning songs from other decades, but you know when somebody describes a track or album as being ‘their time’? That’s how I feel about these decades! 

Of course, you’re never going to like all the music produced and made famous in a decade, but through running ‘Your Wedding Entertainment’, I’ve noticed a recent shift as our prospective brides and grooms, mostly aged between 25-35 like me, see the 90s and to some extent either the 80s or noughties, as the decades they not only look back on but actually remember living and remember fondly!

We’ve just started working with two very high quality bands called De La Ghetto and Back to the 90s, and they have got far and away the most enquiries for evening reception entertainment recently. De La Ghetto are more recent in their choice of material, covering hits from the likes of Rihanna and Calvin Harris alongside Artful Dodger, but Back to the 90s, in my opinion, do a great job in reproducing some awesome tracks from that decade live, not an easy task. 

Sure, there will always be room for top 70s funk and soul band, Motown outfit, jazz/swing crooner, or the 80s anthemic songs performed live, but unless I missed something, until recently there weren’t many bands ‘nailing’ that classic 90s groove-based infectious dance sound. It may not be the most musically complex and repetition plays a key role, but watching their videos, it occurred to me that the production side of the operation has very little room for error and makes it an impressive show. 

As a musician, my actual playing and performing the tunes of my youth is actually quite limited, Brand New Heavies, Omar and Mary J. Blige being about the sum total of the artists who’s songs I’ve actually played live. Obviously, I’m very familiar with and enjoy playing the great songs released in that decade from the pen of Paul Heaton and The Beautiful South via my current job with The South, but I was very young when they were released and they were not the soundtrack of the school discos or my friends walkmans/mp3 players/whatever they had. I-pods were the new ‘trendy’ thing then and streaming wasn’t really available like it is now.

Some of the 90s/early nougties artists and bands I was listening to were/still listen to are (in no particular order) Fat Boy Slim (not just because of his Beautiful South/Housemartins connection), House of Pain, Daniel Beddingfield, Justin Timberlake, Shaggy, Craig David, Artful Dodger, Sweet Female Attitude, Blur, Franz Ferdinand, Arctic Monkeys, Jack Penate and Corinne Bailey Rae. 

My fiancée, who really wanted De La Ghetto for our wedding but the line up is pretty full, suggested that a future project for me be incorporating some of that classic 90s feelgood sound into what I do. I might just do that! I think its definitely an underrated sound when done properly live, and its one of those styles where you can’t help but dance! 

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