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The 7 - Music - Bitching About Setlists
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Big Bad
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#1 Posted on 17.7.05 0401.34
Reposted on: 17.7.12 0404.22
At the risk of sounding like a messageboard bigamist, I often frequent www.interference.com, a U2 fan forum. Since the band is currently on tour, one of the hot topics of conversation is the fact that U2 is playing generally the same songs in every concert. The band generally has a '#1' setlist that they play in most shows, and if they have a second night in the same city, they playing maybe 2-3 different tunes (on cities where they play 3-4 shows, they switch out maybe 5-6 songs into their sets).

The main avenues of criticism are....

* This shows a lack of creativity on U2's part, since if you know what one setlist is going to be, you basically know them all and most of the 'surprises' that come into play. A lot of fans would prefer a constantly rotating setlist like the ones played by Pearl Jam or Bruce Springsteen, where they play 25 songs one night and 25 totally different songs the next.

* U2 have such a deep catalogue of songs that sticking to the same 25-35 for the entire tour is kind of a waste.

* They play too many of the big hits and not enough rare material that would be a treat for the diehards.

I was wondering what everyone's take on these arguments are, not just for U2 but for bands in general. Would it bother you if you went to see your favourite band several times and they played the same tunes each gig? Would it bother you if they played nothing more than a 'greatest hits' show or (conversely) if they ignored some of their big hits in lieu of more random material? Are bands obligated to play certain songs?
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Merc
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#2 Posted on 17.7.05 0548.04
Reposted on: 17.7.12 0548.12
I think it would be much harder for someone like U2 to try to please all the fans. The fact they have such a big catalogue of songs makes it tough to get everyone's favourites in. I'd think if they tour, then having say 40 songs in the rotation makes sense.
They are probably always going to have to play the mega hits otherwise people, ie average punters, get pissed off. I'd have to imagine that after the mega hits and the latest album stuff, the band probably goes with stuff they have fun playing, or haven't done a billion times in the last year.


samoflange
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#3 Posted on 17.7.05 0655.20
Reposted on: 17.7.12 0655.28
It's funny, when I first started reading your post I immediately thought of Springsteen and Pearl Jam as being two acts that always play different material at shows. Just a little example of what that means exactly, back in 2003 Pearl Jam played 3 shows (with an extra 60 minute acoustic show as well) in Boston without repeating a single song. While this is an extreme case, its not really that far off from what PJ does normally. There are 5 or 6 big songs of which you can usually count on 3 or 4 being played. There's also 2 or 3 covers they are into playing for that particular tour. Then after that anything is fair game.

For a band with as much material and history as U2, I see no reason why they feel bound by such a limited number of possible songs to play live. Perhaps there are some songs that they simply don't like anymore. Perhaps they are listening to some higher up who basically tells them what they should be playing. Or perhaps U2 has just gotten comfortable with their setlist and don't want to put in the effort to make it more interesting. Whatever it is, I think it sucks and it really tarnishes the legacy of a great band.

This is also a complaint of mine with regards to Tom Petty's shows nowadays. It's probably not as bad as U2, but still there are enough repeat songs for it to be annoying.

I definitely lose a lot of respect for bands that work with concrete setlists. It shows a lack of respect for their fans by throwing the same songs out there every night. The argument that these bands are trying to please the casual fans is invalid. Having 5 or 6 big hit songs in a night is fine for these people. They won't know many of the other "undercard" songs anyway. So why not switch it up and play some different stuff in the undercard to please the more hardcore fans.
Mr. Boffo
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#4 Posted on 17.7.05 0930.28
Reposted on: 17.7.12 0930.34
I don't know. I guess it depends on what people are expecting. If I know that they play all the same songs at one tour, then obviously I'm only going to go to one show. But with a group that you've mentioned, I'd consider going to more than one show.

How many shows for the same band do people go to anyway?
EddieBurkett
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#5 Posted on 17.7.05 1044.12
Reposted on: 17.7.12 1044.18
    Originally posted by Mr. Boffo
    How many shows for the same band do people go to anyway?


On the aforementioned Pearl Jam 2003 tour, my brother saw them in Boston two nights, New York two nights, New Jersey one night, and I think somewhere in Pennsylvania one or two nights. He spent about a week and a half following the band around.
samoflange
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#6 Posted on 17.7.05 1157.00
Reposted on: 17.7.12 1158.04
    Originally posted by Mr. Boffo
    I don't know. I guess it depends on what people are expecting. If I know that they play all the same songs at one tour, then obviously I'm only going to go to one show. But with a group that you've mentioned, I'd consider going to more than one show.

    How many shows for the same band do people go to anyway?


I think it has a lot to do with what sort of band or artist it is. Groups like Pearl Jam come off much better live than they do on their albums. Their main strength is the intensity and sincerity of their music, which comes through much better live than in the studio.

Another band I've recently seen in concert, Cake, is an example of the opposite side of the spectrum. They come off much better on their albums than they do at a live show. Thats not to say they aren't good live, but their music is jsut the type that benefits from being polished in the studio rather than delivered in its raw form at a show. A few other bands that I've noticed are similar in this way are the Chile Peppers, STP and Radiohead (though many would disagree with that one).

That said, I think U2 is an awesome live band and definitely belongs in the first catgory. I just wish they would do more to show it.
Spiraling_Shape
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#7 Posted on 17.7.05 1206.59
Reposted on: 17.7.12 1207.28
I would think the biggest complaint about their setlists as of late would be the decision to open and close with "Vertigo." I'm really glad they didn't do that at the show I went to.
spf
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#8 Posted on 17.7.05 1856.06
Reposted on: 17.7.12 1856.32
I think it's tough when you're a stadium band and people are paying $80 to see you for the experience of hearing the hits that made you huge. I mean, I want to hear "With or Without You" and "One" etc. That said, you figure a 20-25 song setlist...you can flip a good 10-12 songs and still give people 8-15 songs a night that change.

That's one reason why I've always liked Tori Amos live, and was willing to see her multiple times on a tour, because I know the setlist will not be the same from night to night.
Maestroken
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#9 Posted on 22.7.05 1420.53
Reposted on: 22.7.12 1424.29
preface: (I know nothing about the current tour, but I'll go off my experiences at their show where they had the heart-shaped catwalk.)


It's such a multimedia show, with the screens, and the mobile sets and the such that it needs to have some sort of uniform set list for them to be able to have the whole show go on. If they just decided to just play Pride during the time frame they usually play One, and the buffalos were running in the background of Pride it'd be awfully odd.
Big Bad
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#10 Posted on 22.7.05 1449.18
Reposted on: 22.7.12 1449.23
I don't want to sound like one of those nerdy fans who wants them to bust out the b-sides or anything. When I went to see U2 on their last tour, their performance of Where The Streets Have No Name might've been one of the highlights of my life. That said, I went to concerts held five months apart, and saw a changeup of about nine songs between the show. That's not bad in my books; if U2 has songs that are working well in the show, there's no real reason to change them. If I had gone to see back-to-back shows with only one different song, however, I might've felt a little bit browned off.

The 'lack of greatest hits' thing would bother me more if I went to see, say, OMC and they didn't play "How Bizarre" or something.

    Originally posted by Spiraling_Shape
    I would think the biggest complaint about their setlists as of late would be the decision to open and close with "Vertigo." I'm really glad they didn't do that at the show I went to.


The idea here is that U2 used to open and close with the same song way back in the day (1976) since they usually didn't have enough songs to actually fill an encore! It seems kind of odd to me, since I haven't actually seen a Vertigo show yet (September, baby!), but who knows.

Peter The Hegemon
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#11 Posted on 22.7.05 1934.36
Reposted on: 22.7.12 1935.33
I wish Paul McCartney would be as varied as U2--just having a couple of different songs when he plays a second night in the same city would be HUGE.

I do think artists who have a big enough following (and catalog) should try to do something for the diehard fans, but the reality is, a lot don't. U2's setlist looks interesting enough compared to some out there.

Not every artist can be Springsteen or Pearl Jam, but it would be nice if most of them just took a small step in that direction.
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