Green Day played the whole of ‘Dookie’ at Reading and Leeds this summer, while Kim Deal would apparently rather play the whole of ‘Last Splash’ with The Breeders than spend another minute in Pixies: bands playing seminal albums in full are here to stay. Ever since the ‘Don’t Look Back’ series of concerts started back in 2005, more and more bands have seen the sense in celebrating their finest moments/cashing in on former glories. The question is: if we gave you a blank cheque, who would you prod onstage with strict orders to start at Track One, Side One and keep going without deviation? Here’s what NME’s writers said:
Primal Scream, ‘XTRMNTR’
WLDN’T THT B MZNG? For all the occasional merits of this year’s ‘More Light’ and 2002’s ‘Evil Heat’, Primal Scream haven’t released an end-to-end beast of an album since ‘XTRMNTR’ at the turn of the millennium. It was a tough act to follow anyway. From the twisted industrial hip-hop of ‘Kill All Hippies’ to the soaring motorik highs of ‘Shoot Speed Kill Light’, ‘XTRMNTR’ gave it both barrels all the way, and when the ‘Scream unveiled the new tracks at Brixton with Throb Young, Andrew Innes, Mani and Kevin Shields lined up stagefront like an advance guard, it pinned you to the wall. Let’s have it in full – they’ve already done it with ‘Screamadelica’ after all – and get Mani, Young and Shields back for the party. But keep Barrie Cadogan and Simone Butler too.
Matthew Horton, writer
Kate Bush – ‘The Kick Inside’
My first thought for this was Radiohead playing ‘OK Computer’ from beginning to end. It’s one of the most perfectly crafted albums of all time from the grinding guitar of ‘Airbag’ to the expansive soothing warmth of ‘The Tourist’. But I think it’d have to be Kate Bush’s 1978 album ‘The Kick Inside’. First, it would push her out of touring retirement – she hasn’t played a show for 30 years – and ‘Kick Inside’ is a rare thing, an album without a single dud. It would also mean hearing ‘Wuthering Heights’ live which would be like swimming with dolphins or visiting the pyramids or seeing the Northern Lights or one of the other wonders of the world.
Lucy Jones, Deputy Editor, NME.com
Mogwai – ‘Young Team’
I’d love to see Mogwai do their mighty 1997 debut, ‘Young Team’, in full, complete with Mari Myren reading the translation of a Norwegian student paper review of the band, Barry Burns’ weird backmasking, Aidan Moffat singing ‘R U Still In 2 It’, and re-enactments of the fake prank calls about inter-band fights. Ideally the gig would take place on the side of a windswept cliff while furious rain lashed down.
Laura Snapes, Features Editor
Elastica – ‘Elastica’
Sure, Justine Frischmann might now be living as an artist in LA with apparently no desire to get back with her old girls (and Justin Welch) but one day the world will realise that, actually, Elastica’s self-titled debut was the best album of the ’90s and bankrupt itself getting them back together. Imagine – the opening staccato riffs of ‘Line Up’ sending a sweat-drenched crowd packed into a tiny venue wild, Justine drawling the so-sexy-it-hurts lines of ‘Car Song’ with a nonchalance that borders on boredom or the closing jagged thrills of ‘Stutter’ reminding the men in the audience hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. In a world where reunions are tediously predictable as soon as a band breaks up, Elastica’s would easily be the most exciting and worthwhile.
Rhian Daly, Assistant Reviews Editor
Sign up for the newsletter
Madonna – ‘The Immaculate Collection’
Madonna’s stagecraft is amazing and she’s still fit as an Olympian – just watch last year’s Super Bowl half-time show if you don’t believe me. But she never packs enough hits into her live set. If she just played her 1990 greatest hits album in full, with the usual bells and whistles and flashes of nipple, it would probably be the best stadium pop show ever. Come on, imagine a gig that included ‘Like A Prayer’ and ‘Vogue’ and ‘Holiday’ and ‘Into The Groove’ and…
Nick Levine, writer
Aphex Twin – ‘Drukqs’
If you’re gonna hear an album performed live from start to finish, it might as well be one that was elegantly crafted that way – a sprawling adventure through barking synths and violent breakbeats that, despite no lyrics – one sole scream of “COME ON YOU CUNTS LET’S HAVE SOME APHEX ACID!” aside – somehow feels like it tells a story. The fact that Mr. Richard D. James barely ever plays live any more would make it all the more special. Might need to book myself into some kinda post-traumatic stress syndrome clinic afterwards though, such are its aggressive, paranoid noises. Burrrr!
Al Horner, writer
Tears For Fears – ‘Songs From The Big Chair’
These titans of overblown ’80s pop still tour, but rarely seem to grace the British Isles with their presence. ‘Songs From The Big Chair’ is their masterwork, an album that skirts the bounds of credibility with overblown production and squealing saxophones but always stays on the right side. It’s an album that has big pop hits (‘Everybody Wants To Rule The World’) and contemplative moments (‘I Believe’), and at eight tracks, they could bang out the lot of it and stick ‘Mad World’ (from the preceding ‘The Hurting’) as the encore. Would like them to wear the chunky knits from the cover too, please.
Dan Stubbs, News Editor
Daft Punk – ‘Random Access Memories’
Anyone who saw the pyramid-based ‘Alive’ tour will know that Daft Punk’s live shows have always been the sort of experience that sucked your brain out through your ears, squeezed it full of pure neon-lit pleasure and then returned it to you, never quite the same again. Following their disco reinvention, and with Pharrell and the inimitable Nile Rodgers joined by Giorgio Moroder and the rest of the all-star cast that made the record such a trip, this would be the sort of show you’d be telling your grandkids about in hushed tones for decades to come. And it could really happen – digits crossed.
Kevin EG Perry, Assistant Editor NME.com