Meet three of the UK’s biggest tribute bands who explain what it takes to play the music of your idols. 

By Alex Jones

22 May 2024

Kings of Lyon frontman, Christian Dawson.

Tribute acts are among the most well attended small scale live music events in the UK, the ticket cost and party style atmosphere of the events contributing to a consistently solid crowd size. Feedback spoke to the tributes inspired by Green Day, Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon to find out a little more about how playing in a tribute band works. 

The standard of tributes is not to be sniffed at. There is no doubt about the talent of these groups. From the Jam actually has two members that were in the original Woking band and the Bootleg Beatles have played over 4000 times over their years replicating the fab four. 

How does one go about becoming a tribute artist? How does the skill set differ from normal gigging? Well, it is different for everybody. But here is what happened to Ultimate Green Day, Antarctic Monkeys and Kings of Lyon

Ultimate Green Day 

For Leigh Bucknall of Ultimate Green Day, the tribute scene has been the bulk of his music career for the vast majority of his adult life. Replicating the American trio has been the goal of the band since they were teenagers. “The 3 of us met through a mutual love of Green Day back when we were 14/15 years old. We have played in original bands together and always played Green Day songs together. 

“I think you can tell by our performances that we have all played these songs for almost 20 years.”

In fact, it is not even Leigh’s first Green Day tribute band. “I joined a tribute called Green Bay back in 2007 on 2nd Guitar. And Dan joined Green Date on bass back in 2017. Since both tributes folded it made sense for us to just take it on, be the best and have a load of fun with it. And now we’re playing our favourite songs to sold out clubs and festivals across the UK.”

As a man with experience in the field, he needed to be tested with a more difficult question. At what point does a band deserve to get its own tribute band?

“The obvious bands to be a tribute to are ones like The Beatles and Queen, ABBA etc. Just like the originals, great tribute acts stand the test of time and as long as there is demand for it people will keep dooming it. You can’t go anywhere without hearing or seeing those kinds of bands. It’s great nowadays that tributes are around for every kind of band, making it accessible to everyone.”

Antarctic Monkeys 

Antarctic Monkeys have a fascinating origin story. The rapid changes in style that Arctic Monkeys seem to go through from album to album has left a large section of fans of the Sheffield band desperate to see a return to the power chords and classic indie sound that the group adopted in their first album: Whatever people say I am, that is what I’m not. 

And that’s exactly where Antarctic Monkey’s come in. “We used to exist really because we were doing the first album, and as soon as everyone moved away from that, we were still playing songs like Mardy Bum that the Monkeys wouldn’t play anymore.” Ian Flethcer, lead guitarist explained.

“I think none of us pretend to be from Sheffield, none of us pretend to be anything other than working class lads who kind of fell into this. We’re in there with a kind of love for it.

“It is with the greatest of respect that we play. We are proper fans. When we play the songs they feel like our own because we’ve done it for so long. There’s a real honesty to it and I think that comes across. It’s Mecca for an Arctic Monkeys fan to go to Sheffield and be in an Arctic Monkeys tribute band.”

Kings of Lyon 

Christian Dawson is the frontman of Kings of Lyon. The tribute to the Nashville band of brothers began performing in 2009 and have perfected covers across all nine Kings of Leon studio albums. 

Christian has found people much more accepting of the tribute scene than he expected. 

“People seem to be less cynical about the tribute thing, they are happy to go along. There’s a lot of medium sized venues that rely on the tribute scene to keep afloat.

“In the last two years we’ve grown in size and grown to a five piece… we need that extra for the big stadium sound.”

Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Tiktok for more content!

Upcoming tribute acts for your calendars: 

23 May – The ELO Experience, Manchester Opera house

25 May – The Bon Jovi Experience, Prince of Wales Theatre (Cannock)

26 May – Kings of Lyon + The UK Strokes, Huddersfield

31 May – Definitely Oasis, Peterborough

You may also like…
document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function() { // Select all audio modules with the custom class var audioModules = document.querySelectorAll('.custom-audio-module'); audioModules.forEach(function(module, index) { // Create a container for the counter var counterContainer = document.createElement('div'); counterContainer.classList.add('counter-container'); counterContainer.innerHTML = '0'; // Append the counter container to the module module.appendChild(counterContainer); // Get the audio element var audio = module.querySelector('audio'); // Initialize the counter var counter = 0; // Add play event listener to the audio element audio.addEventListener('play', function() { counter++; document.getElementById('audio-counter-' + index).textContent = counter; }); }); });