Inspired by the recent Rockitt Rant about Poison releasing yet another greatest hits album and most likely performing the same set list (again), I’ve given some thought to why bands don’t mix up their live sets anymore. What’s the matter with these rockers? Don’t they connect with their fans? Why won’t they perform some deep cuts?
Kiss is a classic example of this. Sure, they played some new songs from Sonic Boom on their last tour, but when’s the last time the band really reached into their catalog to pull out the deep tracks like “I,” “Saint and Sinner,” or “Sweet Pain?” Hell, even “Shandi” played anywhere except Australia would be a treat. These bands have to know that the fans love to hear deep tracks, and if you’re worried about casual fans not knowing the songs, or complaining about not hearing the hits, then only play one or two deep cuts. Or maybe, just maybe, the band could mix it up and perform a different set every night? Aerosmith always does. Springsteen always does. It’s one way to sell multiple tickets to area shows.
Poison is another perfect example. They’ve been touring the amphitheaters since 1999 and they’ve played the same greatest hits set since then too. Although songs like “Sexual Thing” and “Lay Your Body Down” have been out in the public since the late 90s, they’ve never performed these songs live. There are also 5 great songs on Power To The People that they could perform, and while “I Hate Every Bone In Your Body But Mine” was played on one (or two) tours, they have since forgotten about these songs. I would love to hear “Strange,” or “Can’t Bring Me Down,” or anything from Crack A Smile, but the band won’t do it.
Motley Crue needs to mix it up as well. Wouldn’t it be nice to see the Crue pull out songs like “All I Need,” or “Too Fast For Love?” Other Crue tracks that would sound great live are songs like “Afraid,” “Misunderstood” (I know Vince didn’t sing this one, but so what? Play it anyway. Vince is only going to sing every third word regardless), or “Hell On High Heels.” That would be spectacular!
Bands need to reach deeper into their catalog to entertain the masses. While Kix does a great job of mixing it up, I would cream my pants if they would play “Luv-A-Holic” just once in concert. We know that you have to play “Don’t Close Your Eyes” and “Cold Blood,” but there are other great songs in your repertoire that would sound great in concert. Buckcherry — is there any chance that you could perform “For The Movies” or “Borderline?” Papa Roach, why not play “Infest?” The die-hard fans would go nuts!
Iron Maiden is a superb example of a band that gets it right. Sure, some fans mocked their decision to play A Matter Of Life And Death in its entirety, and other fans were disappointed when the band toured last year only playing newer material, but all of their concerts sold out. On other tours, Maiden gave the fans only the hits from back in the day. Every Iron Maiden tour is a new experience and that’s why I will continue to pay for their tickets. If Poison mixed it up like that, I would make it a point to see them every summer.
Pearl Jam is another band that really gets it. Not only do they perform different sets tour after tour, they perform different sets night after night. When Pearl Jam plays three nights at Madison Square Garden, all three nights sell out. A big part of that is due to repeat customers. Fans know that every Pearl Jam concert is going to be a different experience, so they purchase tickets for all three nights, not just one. Could Poison or Kiss sell out multiple nights at the Garden? They’re having enough trouble selling out one night at an amphitheater.
Bands need to realize that the cost of tickets has skyrocketed in recent years, and if they expect fans to part with $100 to see a show, then they really need to work hard. Not just on stage, but they need to scrutinize their set list and dust off some classics. Don’t be lazy! Re-learn some of your older material and bring the deeper cuts to the concert. That would make every show worthwhile and it’s almost guaranteed that fans would come back year after year. I know I’d shell out my money. Would you?