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Reunion tours by popular rock bands are equal parts excitement and gloom. And 2007 is stacking up to be a riveting year rife with disappointment.

The gravitational pull of the chance to see one of your favorite bands — or one of an era’s most popular bands — one last time is powerful. You want to be a part of something big, privy to an historical moment that you can talk about for years. “I was there,” you’ll say. Or if you’re lucky, “And they rocked.”

But the mere premise of reuniting for one last hoorah is inherently nostalgic, and that makes the whole thing feel potentially sad and outdated, with a hint of camp. It brings into question the true meaning of rock music: is it here to inspire, destroy and give the middle finger to all things bland, or is it here simply to entertain and encapsulate past moments in our lives?

2007 could provide answers. This year’s list of bands reported to be reuniting for strings of live performances is substantial, and diverse. It includes The Police, Van Halen (recently canceled), Genesis, Sebadoh, Rage Against the Machine, Iggy and the Stooges, Smashing Pumpkins, Crowded House, and the UK band Squeeze.

Bloggers are keeping a running tally of who’s performing and who’s not, and trying to determine whether certain bands have sold out or not. Mojo’s Party Ben is all over Sonic Youth’s recently announced reunion tour, and another blogger is buzzing about the Meat Puppets plans to reunite.

Sell-outs or not, big-show ticket prices upwards of $200 will surely guarantee fat paychecks for many of the artists, who will soon leave their respective tours and go back to what they were doing before: Disney Tarzan soundtracks, 16th Century lute songs and primetime television for some; punk and indy music side projects, film soundtrack scores and political activism for others.

While band reunion season is in full swing, the opportunity is there to pick a favorite piece of music history and go rock out for a night. And chances are, you will get exactly what you’re looking for.

–Gary Moskowitz

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