Setlists haven't featured much in music literature - until now

The new pocketbook that features a collection of setlists from seminal gigs.
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The Independent Culture

When The Grateful Dead used to perform, the unforgettable sight at their concerts was rows of earnest fans listening to the first bars of a number then manically scribbling in notebooks the name of the song. What they performed assumed as much importance as how they performed it. Even now, internet sites see fans swapping information about what Bob Dylan and a host of others played, which songs were added or changed from venue to venue.

The setlist is of crucial importance to fans; but until now, setlists have not featured much in literature about rock and pop music. A new pocketbook puts that right, with a collection of setlists from seminal gigs.

Legendary gigs come in all shapes and sizes. It's diverting to see the setlist of Spinal Tap's gig at New York's Carnegie Hall on 4 June 2005. The list can't convey the midgets in druid costumes dancing round a miniature Stonehenge suspended from a coat rack. But songs such as "Break Like the Wind" and "Tonight I'm Gonna Rock You Tonight" give a flavour of the event.

What is interesting in looking at the lists is the odd choices made at gigs that have passed into history. The Beatles' concert at Candlestick Park, San Francisco on 29 August 1966 was their last public performance. One might have thought they would both open and close with a Lennon/McCartney number; instead, they opened with "Rock'*'Roll Music" and closed with "Long Tall Sally". But then, at his 1969 gig in Toronto John Lennon, having fallen out with his band mates, only did one Beatles number.

One thing the collection of setlists brings home is the variable "work ethic" of concerts and artists. Woody Guthrie performed at the US Department of the Interior, Washington, on 22 March 1940. Following that, he was commissioned by the department to write songs for the opening of a dam. He wrote 26 songs in 30 days. At her Carnegie Hall comeback concert on 23 April 1961, Judy Garland sang 33 songs. Arctic Monkeys in Sheffield last year performed a respectable 14, Joy Division's last-ever gig at Birmingham in 1980 had 11 songs, and Led Zeppelin's debut gig (15 October 1968 at the University of Surrey) a measly five numbers.

The Rolling Stones' first gig, at the Marquee Club on 12 July 1962, must, by contrast, have exhausted their entire repertoire – 18 songs, many of them blues numbers, for a handful of people. But audience numbers aren't everything. The Sex Pistols played the Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester on 4 June 1976 in what is said to be one of the most important performances in music history. Fewer than 100 people turned up, but among that number were members of The Smiths, Joy Division, The Fall, Buzzcocks and Tony Wilson.

A setlist adds to the story of one of the most notorious gigs in history: Bob Dylan and The Hawks at Manchester Free Trade Hall on 17 May 1966. This was the "Judas" gig, when a member of the audience accused Dylan of betraying his folk heritage by going electric. The setlist tells a different story. The second half was indeed a rousing electric set. But the first half was a solo acoustic show featuring some of his best-loved songs. That part has been written out of history.

And of all the setlists, which is the most striking? I'd say it could be The NME Poll-winners' Concert at Wembley Empire Pool on 1 May 1966. The Who opened, then came Dusty Springfield, The Spencer Davis Group, The Small Faces, The Walker Brothers, The Yardbirds, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles.

The setlist is all we have left of this event. The gig was never televised because of a row between Lennon and Mick Jagger over who had headlined the previous year's concert. The Beatles never played live before a British audience again.

'The Little Black Book of Setlists' is published by Portico Books, priced £5.99

Frank Sinatra (with the Red Norvo Quintet)

West Melbourne Stadium, Melbourne, 1 April 1959

Sinatra's two-date Australian tour in 1959 was notable particularly for the singer's finest, and wildest, performances. Just as he began singing " I've Got You under My Skin" a woman in the audience screamed. Sinatra responded coolly with: "Get your hands off that broad!"

Perdido (Instrumental)

Between the Devil and the deep Blue Sea
I Could Have Danced all Night
Just One of Those Things
I Get a Kick out of You
At Long Last Love
Willow Weep for Me
I've Got You under My Skin
Moonlight in Vermont
The Lady is a Tramp
Sinatra Speaks
Angel Eyes
Come Fly with Me
All the Way
Dancing in the Dark
One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)
All of Me
On the Road to Mandalay
Night and Day

Judy Garland

Carnegie Hall, New York, 23 April 1961

Judy Garland's effortless star appeal became undeniable with this classic Carnegie Hall performance. "Over the Rainbow" was even played twice for good measure. So good was this show that Rufus Wainwright " re-performed" the entire set back at the Carnegie Hall in June 2006.

The Trolley Song
Over the Rainbow
The Man That Got Away
When You're Smiling (the Whole World Smiles With You)
Almost Like Being in Love
This Can't Be Love
Do It Again
You Go to My Head
Alone Together
Who Cares (So Long as You Care for Me)
Puttin' on the Ritz
How Long Has This been Going On?
Just You, Just Me
The Man That Got Away
San Francisco
I Can't Give You Anything but Love
That's Entertainment
Come Rain or Come Shine
You're Nearer
A Foggy Day
If Love Were All
Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart
Stormy Weather
You Made Me Love You/ For Me & My Gal/ The Trolley Song
Rock-a-Bye Your Baby
Over the Rainbow
After You've Gone

The Rolling Stones

Marquee Club, London, 12 July 1962

The Rolling Stones' very first concert. Five men shaking their moneymakers, with the world barely taking notice. Compared with today's Stones – with giant record-breaking tours in front of millions of fans – this tiny gig in front of a handful of people must all seem so long ago.

Kansas City
Honey, What's Wrong?
Confessin' the Blues
Bright Lights Big City
I Believe I'll Dust my Broom
Down the Road Apiece
I Want You to Love Me
Bad Boy
I Ain't Got You
Hush Hush
Ride 'Em on Down
Back in the USA
Kind of Lonesome
Blues before Sunrise
Big Boss Man
Don't Stay Out Night
Tell Me That You Love Me
Happy Home

The Beatles

Shea Stadium, New York, 15 August 1965

As legendary gigs go, The Beatles at Shea Stadium is top of the list. This was the first stadium rock concert and in front of a then-record sell-out crowd of 55,600. Performing on a makeshift stage, the band earned $160,000 for their 30-minute set.

Twist and Shout
She's a Woman
I Feel Fine
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
Ticket to Ride
Everybody's Trying to Be my Baby
Can't Buy Me Love
Baby's in Black
I Wanna Be Your Man
A Hard Day's Night
I'm Down

Bob Dylan (with The Hawks)

Manchester Free Trade Hall, 17 May 1966

The infamous "electric" Dylan gig and quite possibly the most discussed concert in the history of rock and roll. Audience member John Cordwell heckled Dylan with a taunt of "Judas" – a comment on Dylan's betrayal of his folk roots by playing an electric guitar. Dylan responded with "I don't believe you, you're a liar", then instructed the band to "play fucking loud".

She Belongs to Me
Fourth Time Around
Visions of Johanna
It's All Over Now, baby Blue
Desolation Row
Just like a Woman
Mr Tambourine Man
With The Hawks:
Tell Me, Momma
I Don't Believe You (She Acts like We Never Have Met)
Baby, Let Me Follow you Down
Just like Tom Thumb's Blues
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
One Too Many Mornings
Ballad of a Thin Man
Like a Rolling Stone

Led Zeppelin

University of Surrey, Guildford, 15 October 1968

Led Zeppelin's debut show as Led Zeppelin – a name chosen by Keith Moon when predicting that the band would go down like a "lead zeppelin". Originally named The New Yardbirds, the group signed a $200,000 recording deal (then a record signing for a new band) just one month after this gig.

Train Kept a-Rollin'
I Can't Quit You
As Long As I Have You
How Many More Times
Pat's Delight

John Lennon

Toronto Rock'n'Roll Revival Festival, Toronto, 13 September 1969

As a supergroup consisting of Lennon and Ono, Eric Clapton on guitars, Klaus Voorman on bass and Alan White on drums, you would just expect this gig to be magnificent. This was also Lennon's first show without the other Beatles.

Blue Suede Shoes
Dizzy Miss Lizzy
Yer Blues
Cold Turkey
Give Peace a Chance
Don't Worry Kyoko (Mummy's Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)
John John (Let's Hope for Peace)

Jimi Hendrix

Isle of Wight Festival, 30 August 1970

Jimi Hendrix played many magnificent shows but this performance with Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox (replacing The Experience) was one many people still talk about today. Hendrix would be dead within three weeks.

God Save the Queen
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Spanish Castle Magic
All Along the Watchtower
Machine Gun
Lover Man
Voodoo Chile
Red House
Dolly Dagger
Midnight Lightnin'
Foxy Lady
Message to Love
Hey Baby (Land of the New Rising Sun)
Easy Rider
Hey Joe
Purple Haze
Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)
In from the Storm

Sex Pistols

Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 4 June 1976

This performance has been named as one of the most pivotal performances in music history. Members of Joy Division, The Smiths, The Fall and Buzzcocks were in attendance, as was Tony Wilson. Famously, fewer than 100 people turned up but, years later, more than 1,000 swore they were there.

Don't Gimme No Lip Child
I Did You No Wrong
No Feelings
Pretty Vacant
Whatcha Gonna Do about It?
No Fun (repeated)

Joy Division

Birmingham University, Birmingham, 2 May 1980

This was, sadly, the band's last ever gig. Ian Curtis, the band's troubled leader, stumbled off-stage during "Decades". The band played on without him. Curtis reappeared for the final song, not knowing that it would be the last time they would play live together.

Shadow Play
Means to an End
New Dawn Fades

The Smiths

Free Trade Hall, Manchester, 13 March 1984

One of the earliest gigs from The Smiths' first major UK tour in support of their debut album. The band's fans were rowdier than the venue's security staff were expecting. The first four rows of the stalls completely collapsed as the audience jumped on the backs of the seats, causing a panic.

Hand in Glove
Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now
Girl Afraid
This Charming Man
Pretty Girls Make Graves
Still Ill
This Night Has Opened my Eyes
Barbarism Begins at Home
Back to the Old House
What Difference Does it Make?
I Don't Owe You Anything (with Sandie Shaw)
Reel around the Fountain
You've Got everything Now
Handsome Devil
These Things Take Time


King Tut's Wah Wah, Glasgow, 31 May 1993

Having travelled up to Glasgow that day, Oasis barged on to the bill by threatening the club's bouncers to let them play or risk the band trashing the place. They were the first band on and, with only a small audience watching, managed to grab the attention of the Creation Records boss, Alan McGee. He signed them up there and then.

Rock'n'Roll Star
Up in the Sky
Bring it on Down
I Am the Walrus


Glastonbury Festival, Pilton, Somerset, 28 June 1997

Radiohead's first gig since the release of OK Computer a few days earlier was going to attract much attention. However, this performance is considered by many, including the festival's founder, Michael Eavis, as the finest performance in the history of the event – despite the torrential soup of mud and rain.

My Iron Lung
Planet Telex
Exit Music (for a Film)
The Bends
Nice Dream
Paranoid Android
Karma Police
Climbing up the Walls
No Surprises
Talk Show Host
Fake Plastic Trees
The Tourist
High & Dry
Street Spirit (Fade Out)

Arctic Monkeys

Sheffield Leadmill, Sheffield, 22 January 2006

This low-key show at the Sheffield Leadmill coincided with "When the Sun Goes Down" being the second No 1 for the Monkeys. During the performance, Alex Turner asked for the doors to be opened so the people outside who were turned away from entering could hear them play.

When the Sun Goes Down
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor
View from the Afternoon
Still Take You Home
You Probably Couldn't See for the Lights but You were looking Straight at Me
Bigger Boys and stolen Sweethearts
Dancing Shoes
From the Ritz to the Rubble
Perhaps Vampires is a Bit strong But...
Leave before the Lights come On
Mardy Bum
Fake Tales of San Francisco
A Certain Romance