Staying Relevant

I've seen a trend with some bands such as Kansas, Styx, Yes, Queensryche and Judas Priest.  The trend is at live concerts to focus mainly on the tried and true popular songs of the bands past, as opposed to playing a healthy amount of newer or at least later material.  I know some of these bands like Styx and Kansas haven't released new material since early 2000, but Kansas has albums such as Power, In the Spirit of Things, Freaks of Nature and Somewhere To Elsewhere all which have some good songs on them.  Musicatto, Ghosts, Freaks of Nature, Distant Vision are all worthy of being played live yet are ignored.   
Styx has Cyclorama, the only album to feature vocalist Gowan, yet he never gets to sing material he recorded, or at least very little of it.   
Yes have some decent later albums which Steve Howe played on like Keys to Ascension, The Ladder, Magnification all which have songs which are live worthy such as Minddrive, Homeworld, and In the Presence Of. 

Even the bands which do have recent albums seem to skimp on this material played live.  According to, Yes only played 3 songs "Believe Again" and "The Game", sometimes "To Ascend.  Queensryche released a great album titled Condition Human and only play Arrow of Time.  When I saw Judas Priest late last year, they only played three songs from the newest album and their later material was ignored. 
It's interesting that while these bands are still going and going strong, their live fan base is not nearly as big as bands such as Iron Maiden or Rush. 

Iron Maiden and Rush have always made a point of playing 4 to 6 songs off of the newest releases.  In addition, both bands have had tours where they haven't focused on the tried and true popular songs.  Rush's Clockwork Angels tour had a lot of 80's material.  And while it was popular, I'm sure the casual Rush fan would've been disappointed not hearing The Trees, Xanadu, or Freewill.  To them, the best part of the show was near the end with YYZ, Spirit of Radio, Tom Sawyer.  Nevertheless, this may cause the casual Rush fan to check out material they may not have been aware of. 
Iron Maiden have been the smartest of all.  They satisfy both sets of fans, the die hards and the casual.  They do a rotation of tours.  A tour for a recent release where they play a great healthy portion of the newest album, some later material, and a few oldies (they've been known to leave out Run to the Hills).  Then they do a tour which represents an older section of their career by focusing on older tried and true material. 

Over all, it seems that if a band wants to maintain a consistent fan base or grow it, not only do they need to produce new material, but also play that newer material live.  Only by playing newer material live will it become a new stage favorite.  This would mean that perhaps Run to the Hills, The Trooper, Breaking the Law, Living After Midnight, Closer to the Heart, Xanadu, Queen of the Ryche, Silent Lucidity, Roundabout, I've Seen all Good People, Carry on Wayword Son, or Dust in the Wind may get dropped.  But the world won't end if you don't hear these songs at a show.  Enjoy the one's you did hear and if they're unfamiliar, check them out, you might like them.  And they may become a favorite.  It's the interest in the newer material by the fans which keeps a band relevant.  And the only way to get the fans interested in newer material, is to have the band interested in their own newer material. 


What are your thoughts on this?  Do you prefer to hear mainly older tried and true material, or do you like to hear newer material at a show?

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