Created By: Watergirl909 on February 5, 2013 Last Edited By: Watergirl909 on April 2, 2013

Lively Setlist

Bands alter their songs when doing them live.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
You've gotten tickets and have been waiting for months to go see your favorite band or singer. You've been re-listening to their albums to the point where you know the songs better than their creators, and can even tell where they made mistakes and kept going. Perhaps you have posters, maybe even hand-drawn ones in your home. So, you go to their concert, and are all hyped up to hear them preform your favorite songs, LIVE!

Then, something... different happens. You know the song they're playing, but they're doing it differently. Maybe they attached an intro to it, or an outro. Or they're singing it differently, or they've changed the lyrics. Or, maybe it's an Unplugged Version, which is a subtrope of this. Whatever the case is, your favorite musician has changed the song. You have just experienced a Lively Setlist.

While pretty much every live performance is different from the studio version in some way, this is not for, say, an extended solo. Only when the pace or the delivery (for example, angry to sad, or demented altered sound to yelling) are altered or when entire new sections are added or lyrical alterations are done (like, topical changes or a different person singing it).

Sometimes, this is well received, and is welcomed by the fandom. Other times, it encounters They Changed It, Now It Sucks. The important thing is, the live version is different from the standard album version in some way.


Examples:

  • Kiss built their career on this. Most of the studio versions of their songs are, well, lacking. The first Alive album was partially done to make people who hadn't heard them live know that they practiced this trope, in spades. In fact, they'll still occasionally take a song that they never play and make it balls-to-the-wall epic, like "War Machine", in Harford, CT in September 2012 (last show of "The Tour").
  • Marilyn Manson has done this with many of the aforementioned methods, including replacing female backing vocals with Twiggy Ramirez, adding outros and intros, and altering lyrics (with The Dope Show being a major one, being the source of an in-song Shout-Out to wherever they are as well as other, minor variations).
  • They Might Be Giants does this a lot, partly to have fun and partly to troll the audience. For instance, they'll play the first four bars of one song and then switch to something completely different. They also like messing with the lyrics, inserting ridiculously lengthy drum solos (once per show), and doing call-and-response.
  • LCD Soundsystem did this. They had the pholosophy that it's pointless to have a concert if all you're going to do is recreate an album's sound.
  • During live performances, Billy Joel makes a habit of stretching the closing saxophone solo of "New York State of Mind" out for a good thirty seconds longer.
  • During the 2012 Grammys, Taylor Swift switched a line in "Mean" to read, "Someday I'll be singin' this at the Grammys..."
  • The Grateful Dead refused to come close to performing anything the way it was on the album (and if they'd tried, their audience would have probably rioted). Three minute singles like "Dark Star" became epic guitar jams lasting upward of twenty minutes in concert, and they regularly nested songs into the instrumental sections of other songs. In one case, they played an entire set of nested songs, finishing with the final verse of the song that started the set.
  • One of the reasons to listen to the live performance recordings of Tom Lehrer is the comedic intros he gives before the actual songs. The studio recordings seem rote and lifeless in comparison.
  • Joe Walsh often changes some of the lyrics to "Life's Been Good" in live performances, including the version recorded on the Eagles Live album (such as changing "I lock the doors in case I'm attacked" to "I lock the doors in case I get drunk", among some other lyric changes in that version).
    • Also in a performance on the '80s concert TV show Rock and Roll Tonight, he changed the line in "Rocky Mountain Way" that read "bases are loaded and Casey's at bat" to "bases are loaded, James Watt's at bat"--possibly in response to then Interior Secretary Watt banning the Beach Boys from doing a concert on the Washington Mall.
  • Often occurs with Kid A / Amnesiac era Radiohead songs. The most notable example must be 'Like Spinning Plates', but 'Everything In It's Right Place', and to a lesser extent 'Idioteque' are also major examples. Made all the more notable in that the latter two songs are played at nearly every concert.
  • Rush:
    • An extended guitar intro ("Broon's Bane") is often added to live performances of "The Trees".
    • Recent tours have had Reggae-style segments inserted into performances of "Working Man".
  • The live version of Astronomy Domine (as found on Ummagumma) by Pink Floyd adds a reprise of the first verse immediately after the first, a lengthy keyboard solo in the middle of the instrumental section, and an additional chorus preceding the last verse before the coda.
  • Barenaked Ladies often do this, especially during the wacky bits in their "If I Had $100000", incorporating local or topical things into the list of things they'd do with the money.
  • Jimmy Buffett would change the lyric in "Why Don't We Get Drunk" from "I just bought a water bed filled up for me and you" to "I just bought some acapulco gold for me and you"
  • British Alternative Rock band blur do this occasionally, such as with their 1999 hit 'Tender', which when played live ends around the time the shortened Radio edit ends, only for a quieter, acoustic section not featured on the studio recording and played solely by Albarn to come in, before ending the song in a grand audience sing-a-long style. The song will typically last 9 or 10 minutes live, compared with the 7:40 running length of the album version.
  • Garth Brooks has a third verse to "Friends in Low Places" that's heard on a live version. The "infamous" third verse is actually a reprise of the second verse with the last three lines changed. The last of these lines is "And you can kiss my ass"


Rolling Updates
Community Feedback Replies: 24
  • February 5, 2013
    elwoz
    They Might Be Giants does this a lot, partly to have fun and partly to troll the audience. For instance, they'll play the first four bars of one song and then switch to something completely different. They also like messing with the lyrics, inserting ridiculously lengthy drum solos (once per show), and doing call-and-response.
  • February 5, 2013
    StarSword
  • February 5, 2013
    StarSword
    • During live performances, Billy Joel makes a habit of stretching the closing saxophone solo of "New York State of Mind" out for a good thirty seconds longer.
  • February 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    LCD Soundsystem did this. They had the pholosophy that it's pointless to have a concert if all you're going to do is recreate an album's sound.
  • February 6, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Joe Walsh often changes some of the lyrics to "Life's Been Good" in live performances, including the version recorded on the Eagles Live album (such as changing "I lock the doors in case I'm attacked" to "I lock the doors in case I get drunk", among some other lyric changes in that version).
    • Also in a performance on the '80s concert TV show Rock and Roll Tonight, he changed the line in "Rocky Mountain Way" that read "bases are loaded and Casey's at bat" to "bases are loaded, James Watt's at bat"--possibly in response to then Interior Secretary Watt banning the Beach Boys from doing a concert on the Washington Mall.
  • February 6, 2013
    NateTheGreat
    One of the reasons to listen to the live performance recordings of Tom Lehrer is the comedic intros he gives before the actual songs. The studio recordings seem rote and lifeless in comparison.
  • February 6, 2013
    Xtifr
    So, basically, any band that improvises? That's going to be a mighty long list! There are entire genres where improvisation is a standard element--jazz, blues, psychedelic rock, bluegrass, etc., etc. Name a popular band from the late sixties or early seventies, and you'll probably have an example. Here's one of the most extreme:

    • The Grateful Dead refused to come close to performing anything the way it was on the album (and if they'd tried, their audience would have probably rioted). Three minute singles like "Dark Star" became epic guitar jams lasting upward of twenty minutes in concert, and they regularly nested songs into the instrumental sections of other songs. In one case, they played an entire set of nested songs, finishing with the final verse of the song that started the set.
  • February 6, 2013
    IsaacSapphire
    I am told that in live performance the Ho Yay of the Franz Ferdinand song "Michale" gets turned up by exchanging the line "come and dance with me" to "come all over me"
  • February 9, 2013
    StarSword
  • February 9, 2013
    GymQuirk
    • Rush:
      • An extended guitar intro ("Broon's Bane") is often added to live performances of "The Trees".
      • Recent tours have had Reggae-style segments inserted into performances of "Working Man".
  • February 9, 2013
    Xtifr
    In many genres of music (most, except for particularly manufactured forms of pop), this is an Omnipresent Trope. Especially if we're going to consider things like "stretched a saxophone solo out thirty seconds longer" to be examples. Few musicians enjoy rigidity, and creative people tend to be...creative.

    I'm reluctant to list examples, because I wouldn't know where to stop. Pretty much every band I've voluntarily gone to see perform live has been an example. And I've seen a lot of bands perform live in my life. (I feel like I should insert something about "get off my lawn" here.) :)

    This is even found in classical music. Many composers will put in little more than some starting suggestions and hints for the featured soloists.
  • February 9, 2013
    porschelemans
    I think examples such as "Saxophone solo extended by 30 seconds" are too frivolous to be used. Only examples where the entire song is radically changed should be listed, such as in the case of Radiohead's 'Like Spinning Plates'. Otherwise there'll just be endless Entry Pimping.
  • February 9, 2013
    rodneyAnonymous
    Whether "the entire song is radically changed" is very unspecific / subjective. The criterion should probably be simply whether the lyrics are different.
  • February 10, 2013
    porschelemans
    I find the post above me ridiculous, as lyrics are by far the least important part of a musical composition. A song can be radically changed in a very objective way without altering the lyrics at all. Look at my example, the difference between a studio version that was recorded backwards on throbbing synthesisers and a live version performed forwards (obviously) on piano should be immediately obvious to anyone blessed with the gift of hearing, even if the lyrics are the same.

    I think this should only apply to cases in which the lyrics have been altered greatly, or, more importantly, when the instrumentation or song structure is noticeably changed. An extended saxophone solo does not change the instrumentation or song structure by any significant amount, but an entirely new saxophone solo not present in the studio recording alters both.

    Along the same lines, changing one line of a song is not a significant change lyrically, whereas adding, removing, or completely changing an entire verse would be an enormous change.
  • February 10, 2013
    robinjohnson
  • February 10, 2013
    Watergirl909
    I don't think it should apply to stuff like extended solos, but I would say that lyrics are extremely important (that's not to say the rest isn't, but, well, keep reading). Taking the lyrics out of a song leaves only a basic emotion, while the lyrics define it. If you were to take the lyrics of Disturbed's Another Way To Die out, you've still got an angry song. But the lyrics define what the songs is angry at (pollution, and environmental destruction). It is true, changing everything but the lyrics of a song can also create a radical change (take, for example, Marilyn Manson's cover songs, which bring the darkness of the lyrics to the forefront by making the music as dark as they already were). Personally, I see this as applying to altered song lyrics, drastically altered instrumentation (lengthened solos, no, but new ones or altered ones, sure), or altered singers (to use Manson again, switching from women to your best friend/bassist/person you've described your friendship with as a marriage/guy who sends you random dick pics changes the meaning quite a bit). Basically, lyrics and instruments are equally important. Lyrics are the difference between a vague emotion and a specific message, but the instruments provide the emotion to the message, and changing them changes the emotion.
  • February 11, 2013
    porschelemans
    I think something should be added to the main text about how examples should only be given when there are significant change to the music or lyrics. As has been previously mentioned, some of the examples listed are only minor changes, and it's hard to say where this should end unless you set (rough) guidelines on what is significant enough to be counted as an example of this trope.

    Dave Gilmour playing a longer guitar solo at the end of Comfortably Numb does not count as this, but Pink Floyd drastically changing the structure of Astronomy Domine between the studio version on Piper At The Gates Of Dawn and the live version on Ummagumma (the first verse is reprised, among other things. I haven't heard that version in a while.) does count.

    Similarly, if a musician changes a line like "I love you and I want to get married to you" to "I love you and I want to live my life with you" in a life performance, that is not significant enough to be a proper example. But if a musician changes a verse going:

    "I love you and I want to get married to you

    To live out my life and have my children with you

    To go on holidays and long walks on the beach

    But above all else I want you to feel happy"

    to

    "I love you and I want to live my life with you

    But I just can't get on with your cheese addiction

    The smell of cheese keeps me awake late in the night

    And brings on an insomnia I just can't fight"

    then there has been a significant enough change in lyrics for the example to be applied. I know there is No Such Thing As Notability, but this could so easily be flooded with such vague examples that it may become difficult to pick out the extremely significant ones from the "saxophone solo thirty seconds longer" type examples.

    Not putting in boundaries on what can be included also produces the question of what truly counts of this trope. Does a singer messing up and forgetting a line count? No. Even if they quickly warp it into something humorous, it's just them ad libbing.
  • February 12, 2013
    Duncan
    • Barenaked Ladies often do this, especially during the wacky bits in their classic "If I Had $100000", incorporating local or topical things into the list of things they'd do with the money.
    • Jimmy Buffett would change the lyric in "Why Don't We Get Drunk" from "I just bought a water bed filled up for me and you" to "I just bought some acapulco gold for me and you"
  • February 13, 2013
    Watergirl909
    So, I made changes to the body based on the discussion as well as my original view for this trope.
  • February 14, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    Satirist Tom Lehrer apparently did this. For example, in the song "Pollution", a line reads: "The breakfast garbage, that you throw into the (Frisco) Bay... They drink at lunch in San Jose." The album notes that the line is varied when performed in different areas; the example given was "The breakfast garbage, that you throw out in Troy... they drink at lunch in Perth Amboy."
  • February 14, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    When the popular band "Huey Lewis and the News" played in Cincinnati, the part of the song "The Heart of Rock and Roll" that says "...in Cleveland. Detroit!", he replaced the motor city with a slower "Cincinnati?" (or added it, not quite sure)
  • February 15, 2013
    Xtifr
    ^ That's something routinely done by all sorts of bands--when a song mentions a city or a bunch of cities, make sure the city you're in gets a shout-out.
  • February 16, 2013
    porschelemans
    I don't think minor changes to the lyrics should count. Otherwise this will just get into People Sit In Chairs territory. I think at least an entire verse should have to be changed. It's the same thing we had with the "Saxophone solo 30 seconds longer" thing, it doesn't really change the song that much.

    Also, if your going to include bands making minor changes to their lyrics, where does one stop? Does a singer messing up, forgetting the words, and scat singing to the melody until they can remember the lyrics count? I would say no. I think this should only apply when a) There has been a significant change to the instrumentation or structure of the song, or b) When at least one verse has had it's lyrics by and large changed.

    Shout Out's to the city you're playing in shouldn't be included. That's a big enough thing to be a trope in itself. In fact... Someone might want to YKTTW that...
  • March 2, 2013
    SquirrelGuy
    Garth Brooks has a third verse to "Friends in Low Places" that's heard on a live version. The "infamous" third verse is actually a reprise of the second verse with the last three lines changed. The last of these lines is "And you can kiss my ass"
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=hqkfa5g1bm2zso5a816i1pf6