The only thing more exciting than your favourite band announcing live shows is your favourite band announcing extra special live shows. As much as we love regular gigs, we especially adore the ones where something particularly memorable happens. And what could be more memorable than seeing an iconic album played live in its entirety? From U2 to Frank Turner, then to Enter Shikari, artists of all sizes and genres seem to be doing it. But are full albums shows all they’re cracked up to be? Or should bands just stick to playing the hits?
Firstly, there’s the obvious matter of the setlist. You know exactly what’s going to be played and in what order (except for the rare cases when an artist decides to mix up an album’s order, or throw in some b-sides or bonus tracks). This could be a blessing or a curse, depending on whether you like to be surprised at gigs or not. Depending on the length of the set, there may not be much time for songs from other albums, so fans who prefer the other stuff may be disappointed. Of course, full album shows are usually announced as such well in advance, but there still always seems to be someone who missed the memo. There’s nothing worse than trying to listen to a band play a quiet song that they haven’t played in 10 years, while some drunk guy ruins it for everyone by talking loudly about last night’s football match.
On the other hand, full album shows are the perfect way to mark the anniversary of a classic record, as well as a gesture of appreciation to the hardcore fans. For old-school fans, it’s a way of saying “thanks for sticking with us all these years.” For newer fans, it’s a way of experiencing the ‘good old days’ that they may have missed out on by discovering the band too late. Regardless of which category you fit into, it’s a unique opportunity to celebrate an album that you love while surrounded by equally adoring and nostalgic fans.
Then of course there are bands like Black Peaks or Press to Meco; smaller bands who only have one album but choose to play it in full for every date of a tour. Instead of being about nostalgia, these gigs are simply about showing off a record that the band are incredibly proud of, and this usually comes across in their performance. For the fans lucky enough to be at these shows, it’s a chance to see every song from an album live before the band reach superstar status and some of these songs are retired for good.
Ultimately, the pros of full album shows outweigh the cons as long as you’re a fan of the album in question. If you prefer their other material, or just aren’t that familiar with the band, it might be best to sit these shows out and wait for an opportunity to see a more balanced set spanning an entire career. Meanwhile, for those who truly appreciate the significance of the occasion, these shows will likely be an unforgettable experience.