The Perfect Setlist

It’s always a toughie when a band is touring. They’re out there promoting their new material, but the fans turn up wanting to have a good night listening to their classics. Finding a suitable balance is always going to be difficult, but apparently, there is some thought that goes into it.
Here’s how my hometown boys and recent 6000 miles… featurees work it out, their strategy revealed by lead guitarist Jamie Cook to NYMag.com.

“The View From the Afternoon”
“When I saw the Strokes at Madison Square Garden, they started with the first song on their first album, and it was great. I thought we should do the same.”

“Brianstorm”
“To start off the set, we play stuff people can dance to.”

And then, that awkward moment discussed above:

“Don’t Sit Down ’Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair”
“This is the first new one, five songs in. Some people are waiting to hear it, and some people are going to be like, F*** this! Why can’t they play an old one?

Before he demonstrates that he’s been to gigs as an audience member as well:

“I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor”
“I imagine a fan bringing a date to our show who doesn’t know us that well. We play loads of new stuff, and when we get to ‘Dancefloor,’ he turns to her and says, ‘You’ll definitely know this one.’ If she says, ‘I don’t know this one either,’ that’s when maybe you shouldn’t see much of her again. We’re helping our fans: If they pass this test, it must be love!”

Acknowledging the difficulties of introducing new music on tour:

“She’s Thunderstorms”
“We’d love to go out and be able to play twelve new songs, but that’s not really fair, so there are five new ones on here — this one opens the new album. At the first few gigs, the idea is to test them out and see how they go.”

And ending on the right note:

“Fluorescent Adolescent”
“It’s good for singing along. For the last song, that’s what you need. That’s it! Let’s hope the sun shines, but just in case, bring an umbrella.”

And I agree with most of what he says, but let’s be honest, his hands (and those of every other band on tour promoting a new album) are tied. That might account for the “interesting” guitar work on the new album, incidentally. The fans are not there to hear the new stuff – even when it becomes a hit some way down the line, they won’t remember seeing it live.
There’s no familiarity with a  favourite lyric, no personal link to an event or events in one’s life; there’s no emotion attached to it.

But  – against what the Arctic Monkeys told us “There’s only music so that there’s new ringtones” – without new music, there would be no tours and the whole argument would be rendered invalid anyway. Thus, it looks like the age old recipe of the 70:30 split of old to new. And working on a set of about 20 songs, that still means that you’re going to get 14 of your favourites in.

It’s probably still worth the price of a ticket.

Suck It and See is the fourth studio album from the Arctic Monkeys and is released on 6th June.

The band recently announced two hometown gigs at the Don Valley Bowl on June 10 and 11. They will be headlining the annual V festival occurring August 20-21 with Eminem, Rhianna and Plan B and will also be headlining the T in the Park festival with Coldplay and the Foo Fighters which runs from July 8-10.

Don’t sit down…

Feels like someone should have suggested that for me this week. Busy.

But no, this is the new one from the Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys: Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair.

I’m getting heavy Beatles, I’m getting dark Oasis and there’s a soupçon of The Smiths and a hint of The Pixies in there too.
What an utterly splendid blend.

P.S. We don’t recommend doing the things that Alex Turner is suggesting: Wearing a shellsuit on bonfire night is downright dangerous and heavily unfashionable and you should certainly check that your medical aid is in order before kung-fu fighting on roller skates.

Chasing the sun with Tony Christie

Because of the timing of the flights on my recent trip up to Durban, coupled with the relative geographical positions of that city and Cape Town and with the addition of a pinch of the turning of the earth, I found myself chasing the sunrise east on the flight out and chasing the sunset back home on the flight back. Needless to say, our pursuit was rather fruitless last night and so we gave up when we reached Cape Town airport, but we tracked down the sunrise on Wednesday morning with no difficulty. It was almost as if it wanted to be caught.

And all the while, I was enjoying something very chilled on the iPod: Tony Christie’s Made in Sheffield, in which Christie covers songs written and previously performed by Sheffield artists and bands such as Richard Hawley, Arctic Monkeys, Pulp, Human League and others.
And while you can listen to Christie’s wonderful cover of
The Only Ones Who Know via that link to  the album review above, here’s Alex Turner singing an (almost) equally relaxed version with Richard Hawley at the Union Chapel in Islington.

Christie’s gentle pub crooner/swing/jazz style didn’t seem wholly appropriate as we set off, but it soon became apparent that it was the perfect accompaniment for gazing out of the window at South Africa beneath me. And ironically, it probably prevented me from smashing the aggravating bloke sitting next to me in the face, South Yorkshire style.