Don't Go There: Rules Of The Road Vol. 4
6. Do not make a big deal about inserting new songs into a set list heavy on old, familiar fare. (And especially avoid asking permission to perform the new stuff.)
It's your concert. Own it. Who cares if a big chunk of the crowd is there to hear the big radio hits and old album-track standbys for the umpteenth time? This thought occurred to me last night during Jackson Browne's show at the Warner. Browne has a new album coming out next week - his first set of new songs in a half-dozen years - and so, of course, he wants to play the fresh material.
But he seemed almost apologetic about it, more or less asking the audience to indulge him.
And he kept mentioning it as more and more new material was played, possibly because there were a bunch of people in the audience calling - quite loudly - for "Running on Empty" and "The Pretender," but maybe because Browne did, in fact, feel genuinely guilty about loading the set list with so much new stuff. Or maybe because he was nervous, last night marking the opening of the tour and all.
Whatever the reason, Browne really shouldn't have made such a big deal about it. (He even mentioned at one point that he asked some of his musician friends about introducing new stuff into their set lists, about how they're better at it than he is, and about how James Taylor shared his own method, in which JT introduces new material by saying: "Here's a new song - but it's just like the old ones." Har har.)
Dude, you're a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. You can do whatever you want. Just play the new stuff without any real fanfare (and certainly without apologizing) and let the material speak for itself. It's what your pal Springsteen does, and it works just fine for him.
Exception: You're the Rolling Stones.
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