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Live Set Lists Discussion

Dec 15, 2021
United States
So I've been thinking about two conflicting interests in what songs a band, particularly a famous one should play live.

For the more hardcore fans, we've heard their big hits to death and are sick of them. They're such cliche choices, disappointing to hear, when you could have heard one of the band's other many, many great songs that are perhaps deeper cuts or from not their most popular albums. You want to hear those songs live because they haven't been done yet or done a million times.

On the other hand, for the more casual fans, you're probably not that familiar with their entire discography, maybe only seen the MTV music videos of their big hits once or twice, or maybe just listened to their most popular album or a greatest hits album once or twice. So if you went to a live show, and never heard those big songs played, or only a handful of them, you'd probably be rather confused as to why they're missing.

This is more of an issue now for older, more mature bands who have released many, many records, such that even a setlist of nothing but their hits would be impossible because they've been around so long they have more hits than could fit in a setlist. Whereas younger bands may only have 1 or a few albums, so by necessity they're going to have to play deeper stuff, or perhaps more stuff from the newest album to help promote sales.

For me, bands like Priest, Megadeth, Maiden, KISS, Metallica, etc. would fall into the former category, but say Rolling Stones or AC/DC would be in the latter. I love their hits but I never really got that into their other deeper songs on albums.

What are your thoughts on this?


Staff member
Mar 27, 2018
Honestly, I don’t go to concerts much anymore. But when I was younger I went….A LOT. i started going to concerts around 1976. My first concert was Aerosmith, the Rocks tour. Aerosmith is my favorite band and I have seen them in concert at least a dozen times. I believe Aero has pretty much played their entire discography, except a handful of songs, at their concerts. No matter how many times I have heard Dream On or Sweet Emotion played live, I always loved it.

I went to an Ozzfest back in 2004 that was freakin awesome. I got introduced to a couple new bands at Ozzfest….Slayer & Dimmu Borgir ( which I didn’t like at the time), Lacuna Coil, Hatebreed. IMO the setlist didn’t matter. It was a major thrill just to hear all this really cool music played right before my very eyes (and ears). Judas Priest had a ripping show “Hellbent for Leather”, “Diamonds & Rust”, “Painkiller”. Ozzy played a decent set, ”Mr. Crowley”, “Bark at the Moon”, “Sweet Leaf”. You have to realize that all this heavy music was fairly new to me, so it didn’t matter if the songs were hits or deeper cuts……it was really a fantastic feast of music!

The very best concert I went to was Boston back in 1977. When they played “smokin” there was not a single person who didn’t light their Bic lighter….lol. What was really cool was Bob Seger opening for Boston.

I think that metal connoisseurs might over think & analyze a setlist too much. If it’s your first time seeing a band live, then hell yeah you want to see your favorite songs played. Most concert tours are going to be promoting the most recently released albums, but you can pretty much bet that one of the most popular hits is going to be the encore.

BTW, I plan on catching Aerosmith’s Peace Out tour. :p There is one song Aero has never performed live and I hope they do it on this tour…

Mar 29, 2022
Sydney Australia
I just wanna say that I don't get when famous bands state this :"we don't like playing that song live " or/and "I hate that song so we don't play it anymore".....I mean, THEY wrote and sang that song themselves !!!!!
Anyway, I don't think famous bands should do only the hit songs of their repertoire because many fans wanna hear the other songs too. B.O.C. for example hardly ever do Deadline live , but it rips big time....they just do Don't fear the Reaper on repeat !!!! Bands should diversify on stage.