This summer is not just the season of movie sequels, it's also a time for musical second acts. Huge bands from decades past are dusting off their guitars and vocal chords, heading out on the road and proving that the AARP set can still rock out. Here's a look at five of the biggest musical reunions this year:
Message in a Bottle: The Police Are Back
To the delight of anyone over the age of 30, legendary rock trio The Police (Andy Summers, Stewart Copeland and Sting) has reunited for their first world tour in more than two decades.
In 1983 the three-man group was arguably the most popular rock and roll band on earth following the release of their multi-platinum album "Synchronicity." Only a year later, however, in-fighting caused the band's break up; an aborted 1986 reunion failed for the same reasons. After sharing the stage at this past February's Grammy Awards for the first time in twenty-three years, the Police announced a formal reunion, and later, their tour.
Over the course of the summer, the band will play more than forty stadium and arena shows in North America in addition to high-profile headliner gigs at the Bonnaroo Music Festival and the Virgin Festival. High-energy band Fiction Plane will be opening throughout the tour.
Take Me Home: The Genesis of Genesis 2.0
Lest the Police be the only trio of grey hairs reuiniting this summer, Genesis is together again following a fifteen-year hiatus.
After trudging through an ever-changing lineup of interchangable band members, Genesis hit its stride in the late 70s with the addition of Phil Collins as vocalist and drummer. In the late 80s Collins began pulling double-duty, launching a solo career while still staying with the band. But after Collins' solo projects -- which have included projects as diverse as writing Broadway songbooks and teaming with hip-hop group Bone Thugz-N-Harmony -- began to take off in earnest, the group fell apart.
At a November 2006 press conference the band announced its intention to reunite because, as Collins put it, "We just sort of felt that now was the kind of right time to have a go, really." The U.S. leg of their tour currently features more than twenty performances and in a testament to the band's popularity, six have already sold out.
Knockin' on My Door: The Return of Def Leppard
If Madonna was the poster girl for 80s pop, Dep Leppard was her arena-rock big brother. The band's hard (but not-too-hard) driving tunes, big hair and tight spandex pants were an MTV staple in the 80s, giving the channel both the musical and visual punch it thrived on.
With the release of the 1987 album "Hysteria," Def Leppard cemented themselves at the top of the glam rock game. Six hit singles including "Animal," "Love Bites" and "Pour Some Sugar on Me" came out of the record. Undeterred by the 90s grunge revolution, the band staggered through the next decade and a half, releasing albums to little acclaim and attention.
The band's 2007 summer tour includes fifty performances from coast to coast, including several gigs in the northern Midwest. No word yet on how big the band's hair will be.
Stray Cats Return Home
When it comes to 80s rock, there's only one band that's known for its innovative use of thr upright bass: The Stray Cats.
The band was formed in 1979 in New York but a year later relocated to Britain, where their blues- and ska-influenced riffs became enormously popular.
"Rock This Town" took the U.S. by storm in 1982, its energetic bluesy guitar and toe-tapping bass lines propelling the band to stardom. In classic VH1 "Behind the Music" style, the band's rapid ascent led to insurmountable tension, and the band broke up in 1984.
Lead singer Brian Setzer went on to a successful career with the Brian Setzer Orchestra, which helped ushed in the swing music and dancing trend of the late 1990s. After several failed reunion attempts in recent years, the band jelled again a few months ago. At this point, the Cats are promisng eighteen shows from July to August, and are hinting at more.
The Great Pumpkins
"My heart is in Chicago, and my heart is in the Smashing Pumpkins," wrote Billy Corgan in June 2005 full-page advertisements in the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times newspapers. "I want my band back, and my songs, and my dreams. In this desire, I feel I have come home again."
Walking off stage at a sold-out concert in Paris in late May of this year -- the first Smashing Pumpkins concert since 2000 -- Corgan seems to have gotten his wish. The 1990s mega-act are indeed back, but with a new face: original members James Iha and Auf der Maur have been relaced by Jeff Schroeder and Ginger Reyes.
In 2005 Corgan explained what he wanted out of a reunion: "...if I ever go back...it's going to be dangerous. It's not going to be gingerbread cookies and milk." Holding true to that claim, the Pumpkins will be sit in on two "residencies," one at the Orange Peel Club in Ashville, NC and the other at the Fillmore in San Francisco. At each stop, the band will play nine days straight, varying set lists by combining new and old hits as well as songs written on the day of the show.