Love it or hate it, the full-albums-in-concert format is rapidly gaining favor among touring artists. Fans seem to be split on the issue -- some love the attention to the arc of narrative cohesion and the flow of musical conception, while others decry the lack of surprise and spontaneity that comes with knowing the content of a set-list before you arrive at a show.
Here, a handful of Buffalo News readers sound off on the topic:
"When a band creates a great album, and thousands or millions of music lovers appreciate that album over a period of time, the album itself becomes so much bigger than the band. When an album reaches this status, it becomes its own entity entirely. From reading past interviews with bands who have approached the task of playing an album in its entirety, it seems they often benefit from the experience. I think it can make them more humble musicians, and maybe it could take away some of the self-indulgence that occurs when bands just play what they want to hear."
-- Rami Abu-Sitta
"I personally like [the full-album idea], from the bands who understand and know their fans. The hard-core Bruce [Springsteen] fans know that an album is a statement. They also probably lived in a time where they listened to the album in its entirety, and that album brings them back to a time in the past -- memories good and bad.
"I think that as you progress through the years, you lose a bit of that. Today's fans are focused on singles, but really, would a 'pop' band play an entire album in concert? Of course, I think the typical Billy Joel fan may not appreciate 'The Stranger' being played [in full], and the average Green Day fan may appreciate [the whole] 'American Idiot,' so there are exceptions. In today's music industry, I would guess most artists still live by the thought of the album as a statement, but I'm not sure the majority of listeners do."
-- Chris Webb
"I like the idea provided the artist[s] follows the 'Springsteen format'. I believe he/they performed the album material as a first set, and then did a regular second set. This was the format that the BPO followed in September, with Bob Stillman, when they performed James Taylor's 'Sweet Baby James'. It was very satisfying hearing the whole album from beginning to end. It also really increased the anticipation for the second set, in which they did a greatest hits format.
"However, as much as I would love to hear [Steely Dan's] 'Can't Buy A Thrill' in its entirety, for example, I'd be pissed if I paid top dollar to hear a 40-minute album set."
-- Andrei Neimanis
"I'm in Todd Rundgren heaven this year. I saw him perform 'A Wizard, a True Star' in its entirety with about 12 costume changes and a killer band! I just learned that from September 5 to 15, Rundgren will be performing his 'Healing' and 'Todd' albums back to back. Yes, I'm happy!"
-- Gregg Gizzi
"If the album is 'worthy' -- meaning well-written and sequenced -- then it's something to behold in concert. There's really an art unto itself in making an album that hangs together as a coherent work, rather than a collection of songs. I think you need to have more than a common theme -- rather, a narrative or emotional arc. So if you have that, it can really click in concert.
"I've heard about many of these great shows - Genesis doing 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway,' The Who doing 'Quadrophenia,' Pink Floyd doing 'The Wall,' recent Springsteen shows, etc. -- but unfortunately, didn't experience them firsthand. I'm not sure I would have appreciated Genesis at 10 years old anyway! However, I was lucky enough to see the Decemberists do 'The Hazards of Love' in its entirety -- a really outstanding show!"
-- Paul Zablotski
"Porcupine Tree is playing the first disc from its double-album 'The Incident' to open the show this tour, [which stops at the Town Ballroom on May 4]. I had the album for only a week when I saw them in Cleveland in September. Thus, now that I am hooked on that album, and love the way it flows, I am really psyched to see them perform it again at the Town."
-- Dave Radka