"When I go see a popular band live (or a live cover band), I want them to play the tunes..."

(Debated about making this anonymous or not - if you have a strong opinion, please comment - thanks)

It really does depend on the band and the type of music. If I go to see something very guitar heavy, I like it to differ from the recorded version and it usually will. Something more electronicy and I’d like that to be closer to the recording. If I see the band regularly I’ll give them more latitude too, whereas if it’s someone who’s doing the equivalent of a ‘greatest hits’ comeback type of tour, I’ll expect fidelity.

A good example was The Police, who I finally saw a couple of years ago after waiting for decades. Mostly they were great, but a couple of times they played a couple of the standards in a (what seemed to me, anyway) fairly self-indulgent, flowered up way. It struck me at the time that it was at least a misjudgement of the audience. The stadium was pretty much filled with people like me, who missed them in their heyday or who were reliving their experiences. We pretty much wanted the hits as we remembered them. At worst it felt a bit like arrogance on their part. (Big shock, I know. How much a band owes to their audience in this is also something we’ve debated before. I tend to feel that in this kind of circumstance, where the band are pretty much getting together for one last money-spinner they owe the greatest hits package).

Funnily enough, I saw the same Police tour and was thrilled to see them doing more than going through the motions. The songs weren’t turned into jazz wankery (the way they sounded on Sting’s Bring on the Night) but each member got a chance to show off their virtuosity. Very satisfying. I came to see the Police perform, and that’s what I got.

The Eagles on their last tour sounded great, but it was so faithful that it was boring. Talk about going through the motions…

More or less like the recorded version is my preference…throw in a brief solo here or there, or extend one there…add a verse or two that was cut from the album version…get the crowd to sing along with the songs that it fits. All great, so long as the song is still recognizable as their version of the song. But, also great is the song being exactly like the recorded version, only with the post-recording production cut out.

If I go to the trouble of seeing a band live, it’s a band I like a lot, and I like bands that are good musicians. They can play their songs however the hell they want to play them.

I suppose I do prefer a band not to play songs just exactly the way they were recorded, because then they sound rote. If I’m going to have to stand up and get beer spilled on me, I’d like it to be a different experience than sitting at home with the CD player. But, again, it’s their show and they can play what they feel.

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any band i like did/does significant jamming, noodling and lengthening.

Jam and Jazz bands are free to do what they any because that’s what’s expected, a free form rendition of what they do.

Other bands are free to do what they want as well, but their fans may be expecting to sing along and maybe take cues from the song structure. Lowering the really, really high notes on some vocals just makes sense, as does mixing up the intricate harmonies, but the fans came to hear what they hear in their rooms while listening to your recorded music.

In the mid 90’s I was in a Ska band, and we played a show in Toledo with a few of the more well known Ska acts at the time. Good show, sold some merch, nothing really out of the ordinary.

We came back a few months later and the fans there literally knew the words to the songs better than our singer, not that he flubbed that much. What shocked me was that these kids practically studied our music, and were singing along, and I would have felt bad if we deviated from what they were planning on singing. That was the most moving experience in my music career. We thought we just gave them a show, but we gave them something they internalized and felt good about. I can’t imagine that feeling on a stadium scale at all.

My other anecdote was from when I saw Our Lady Peace at the Newport in Columbus. I liked most of their singles, and was invited to go to the show by a friend. Overall it was a great concert. When they got towards the end of the show, the band started playing a song I hadn’t heard before.

It seemed that the vocal part was about to come up, and the singer just held the mic up to the crowd. The crowd sang the entire song word for word (it was 4am, the song, not the time). I didn’t know the song then, but the feeling of a crowd becoming an impromptu chorus was something to behold. Subsequent concerts of theirs have not failed to disappoint either.

I’ve been to a Slayer show where they played “Reign in Blood” in it’s entirety, and in track order, and the fans ate it up. Same thing when Rush did “Moving Pictures” the same way.

Fans are fickle, and they should always be, otherwise we end up with Biebers and Jepsens.

I really depends…

If Rush is gonna play YYZ. I don’t want a hybrid that isn’t YYZ, unless it’s a definitive stray towards a jam between segments and not some bastardized version of the whole song, as long as they finish the rest of the tune the right way, all is right with the world. :slight_smile:

Some Bands are Awesome Live and punctuated with their improv.

Some bands are just crap…to see them Live makes it even worse…there is no studio magic holding your hand under the lights.

My feeling is, if you can’t play your tunes Live without backing tracks…DON’T FUCKING PLAY LIVE…or don’t write tunes you cant play…Better yet…get the people you need to play live and stop faking it.

It’s not rocket science.


Some bands’ songs lend themselves to interpretation because they use a fairly easy-to-expound-upon riff as a base and/or make their crust on the “going to town” aspect of their music.

Other bands’ songs tend to be more about the arrangement and to break from it isn’t as easy or desirable, because it’s more about “that moment” or the ambiance and not about instrumentalists or vocalists going to town.

Guitar solos I don’t mind if they play note for note or if they differ. Actually, basically any music that is not singing or accompanied by singing can be different. But for the lyrics and the music backing the lyrics, I want to be almost exactly the same because I like to sing along and even changing the backing music will change the rhythm.

Also, I prefer the general sound (i.e on album what we’d term “production”) to sound somewhat different from their albums. I was disappointed in this regard when I saw OMD a year or so ago. Their sound was exactly like it was on their albums, and I expected their voices to have changed or at least their instruments to have a live sounding quality to them.

I suspected that it was a lip synch: the only way I could tell that it wasn’t was that they forgot the lyrics once or twice! They did have a sound guy to the side attentively pushing buttons throughout the songs, though. I guess with his help they were able to tweak their singing and instruments to exactly match their albums.

I’m usually disappointed in vocal performances from rock bands vs the album. You can see how much of a crutch the studio is. Dave Grohl, however, knocks it out of the park in person.

I voted for mostly the same, but yes, it does depend a lot on the band, and “mostly” might be an exaggeration in any case. I want to hear their big hits (and, if I am lucky, any other songs I particularly like), and generally I prefer them not mucked about too much, but I am quite happy to hear new material, less familiar older songs, and even a cover or two. If a band just played their hits and their latest album (and I knew the album), I would probably be disappointed.

If it’s a tribute band, I’d expect them to be very close to the originals, but a band whose set is all covers are probably playing songs loads of people play so I don’t mind them mixing it up.

Popular bands playing their own songs can do what they like! If I knew they had a rep for playing note perfect reproductions I probably wouldn’t bother going to see them.

I voted for as original as possible. If I wanted to hear what I hear on the CD, I’d listen to the CD. The best concerts I’ve been to we’re when the musicians didn’t stick to the script, and the most memorable songs were memorable because they tried something different.

I hate it when the singer is bored with the song they’ve been playing for years and is phoning it in.* i.e. Geddy Lee on Working Man.*

I can’t imagine doing the same song 200 nights a year, and feel lucky that I’m not a rich, famous rock star for that very reason.

I’m a huge Todd Rundgren fan, and he’s had a lot of fun changing around songs. The stupidest song he ever wrote, “Bang The Drum All Day” (which is of course the most popular) he started playing on ukelele, throwing in verses from “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.

When he’s changed stuff around the most has been the most enjoyable, because he’s having fun with it and that fun is infectious. He was asked to re-record his older singles, he did it in Bossa Nova style, touring the album with a Tiki Bar on stage.

I want it to be close enough to the album that I can sing along (loudly and enthusiastically!), but still without sounding as if they are just lip-synching directly from it.

I prefer bands that improvise and change things up, but I voted “depends on the band.” Some bands do simpler, more stripped-down shows and if the performance is good, I don’t deduct points because they’re not improvising.