LONDON (Billboard) - Out in the California desert, the
Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival is fast becoming an
oasis for high-profile reunions.
The Jesus and Mary Chain, the Pixies, Rage Against the
Machine, Gang of Four and Bauhaus are just a handful of the
acts whose return to the stage has taken place at the Indio,
Calif.-based event in recent years.
The trend will continue this year when two of Britain's
most important '90s alternative bands -- the Verve and
Portishead -- make their respective U.S. returns after nearly a
"The fans like them," said Paul Tollett, principal of Los
Angeles-based Goldenvoice, which organizes Coachella. "But also
they attract other bands to the bill and give a serious feel to
the show." This year's lineup also boasts Roger Waters,
Kraftwerk, My Morning Jacket, the Raconteurs, the Breeders and
Love and Rockets.
"The festival's strength is that we know (which) bands to
pick," Tollett added. "(But) we don't want every band that
starts to play again. They need to be in top form for the
With that in mind, the reunited My Bloody Valentine turned
down an offer to play its first show in 10-plus years at this
year's festival, telling Tollett the band needed more time to
hone its live show.
'FURTHER DOWN THE ROAD'
But the Verve and Portishead should be nearing peak shape
for Coachella, which will serve as a launch pad for anticipated
new album releases. Portishead's third studio album,
appropriately titled "Third," will land April 28
internationally via Island and the following day in the United
States via Mercury. It will be the trip-hop pioneers' first set
since a 1997 self-titled album.
"They've been asking us for quite a few years,"
Portishead's Adrian Utley said of Coachella. "It seems like a
good place to play, being out in the desert, and it was started
by what seems to be some pretty cool people."
Utley described the band's new album as "the same mindset
we've always had, only further down the road."
New tracks received their airing in December 2007 at the
All Tomorrow's Parties festival in Minehead, England, which the
band curated. More U.K. and European audiences will get a taste
during a spring tour.
The status of the Verve's as-yet-untitled fourth EMI album,
tentatively due in June, is less clear. In January, manager
Jazz Summers, CEO of Big Life, was one of several artist
managers to voice concerns over the new EMI regime's ability to
handle big releases. The band is unsigned in the States.
The group split up in 1999 at the height of its commercial
power before reuniting last summer. The first new music from
the Richard Ashcroft-led act, a 14-minute jam dubbed "The Thaw
Session," was released as a free download in October.
Parlophone managing director Miles Leonard said the Verve
is "currently writing only," and neither he nor Summers would
comment on whether the situation with EMI had been resolved.
The band's last album was 1997's "Urban Hymns." Tickets for
a six-date U.K. tour in November 2007 reportedly sold out in
less than 20 minutes, with a string of arena dates added soon
after. A headline slot at Scotland's biggest festival, T in the
Park, has been confirmed, while the coveted Sunday night slot
on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2008 is also understood to
be the Verve's.