Concerts in which bands perform an album’s entire tracklist have been around for some years now and some people think of the practice as artists cashing in, or compromising credibility in some other way. While that may be what’s happening in some specific cases, I think it makes perfect sense that a band would want to perform an album in its entirety at shows.
As you might have heard, albums don’t sell like they used to; a lot of people just stream songs, and a lot of people who buy music digitally just pick and choose individual tracks. Performing a full album live is a way for a band to get people hearing a collection of songs in the order that the artists likely took a lot of time to put together. It might also get a music fan who typically only buys individual tracks to buy the whole album if they like what they hear. As for the fans who are already familiar with the album, there is something special about taking in the album experience live.
Sometimes, artists will perform a brand new album live even though their new music isn’t as popular as their older stuff—Iron Maiden and Smashing Pumpkins, for two examples. This is totally understandable if the albums are important to the artists and they want fans to give the albums a chance. Plus, if you think about it, does it not seem logical that while on a concert tour promoting a new album, that an artist would be playing all of that album? I feel like that’s just never been the standard practice for whatever reason, but that there is some logic to the idea.
As for bands playing one of the most popular albums from their catalogue, to commemorate some anniversary of the album or otherwise, I just don’t get the “selling out” accusations. The album is the band’s work, and the album likely holds a special place for anyone buying tickets to the concerts, so it’s all good, and everybody’s happy. Really, how is a band playing their most popular album in its entirety on a tour selling out any more than a band playing their most popular song at every concert they ever play?
Am I missing something here? If you think so, or if you agree with me, please let me know in the comments. Also, I’d love to hear what albums you’d pay to see performed live. I’ll start the list with these suggestions: Nine Inch Nails’ Downward Spiral and Year Zero, The Cure’s Disintegration, Radiohead’s OK Computer, Tori Amos’s Little Earthquakes, Tool’s Ænima, and Opeth’s Still Life.