When is a band not a band?

A recent conversation had me thinking about this.

It all started when it was announced that Tom Hingley of the Inspiral Carpets was booked to play a gig in the bar/venue I work in and I asked a patron who is a fan of all things Madchester if he was attending.

His initial response was to put it mildly lukewarm.

'It's not the Inspiral Carpets is it though?' was the stumbling block for him.

And yes, of course it isn't the Inspiral Carpets, but it is the singer of the band, and he is doing an Inspiral Carpets set with a full band backing him rather than it being for instance a solo acoustic outing.

With this being the case it could be argued that if you close your eyes on the night then it would be difficult to tell the difference between the acts.

As he still wasn't one hundred percent sure about it all I pressed on and pointed out that there are a great deal of bands out on the road, with some who are playing stadiums, that only feature one original member, and there are those who don't even feature the original singer, and it doesn't seem to impact on the quality of the show, or the uptake of tickets from fans.

After pulling the pin and lobbing a few names at him like little hand grenades of enlightenment it was grudgingly accepted that the only difference between Tom Hingley playing the Bellfield Tavern and say Queen touring, or Thin Lizzy, who went out with no original members at all, was a perception issue.

It is something we bolt onto the premise that says more about us than the artist or band.

I've even been guilty of it myself.

When the post Mick Jones Clash toured I refused to go to the Barrowlands gig in Glasgow as for me, at that time, it wasn't the Clash without Mick in the line up.

I've since regretted that silly unbending pointless decision many times over the years.

Thankfully I learned from that though, and since then I've seen plenty of bands who could be described as a few steps away from being recognizable as the original act, and enjoyed them all.

The conversation about this went back and forth for a while as it does with pub chat, and the outcome was that I sold him two tickets and I don't doubt he will have a ball, but it does beg the question when is a band not the band?

It can't be claimed that Tom Hingley is attempting to pull the wool over the eyes of Inspiral Carpets fans as he isn't going out under that name, but setting possible legalities aside he wouldn't be the first, or last, frontman to do so if he did.

It's an industry norm.

Bands break up and get back together, members die, other run off to do all manner of things, and often the show must go on is the battle cry.
It's not unheard of for the very last original member of an act to step aside and be replaced meaning that the band literally has no one involved who was there at the inception either.

So where is the point where we draw the line and consider a band to be selling a lie, or to be nice a little fib?