Now that U2 are taking The Joshua Tree on tour it seems like nearly every major band has gone on a classic album tour of some sort in recent years. It’s easy to understand why. The collapse of the recording industry has forced artists to make more and more of their money on the road, and at a certain point fans want to see something different. Not only does a complete album show guarantee they will see their favorite songs, it also offers a unique experience that may never come around again. Casual fans get guaranteed hits and hardcore fans get the promise of deep cuts. But there’s still many acts that haven’t given into the trend. Here are 10 complete album shows we’d like to see in the future.
The clock is ticking quickly on this one since Black Sabbath play their final concert February 4th in their hometown of Birmingham, England. But they're very close to making this happen already though since the current show features six of the eight tracks from 1970's Paranoid. "Electric Funeral" was in the rotation as recently as 2013, so all they'd need to do is learn "Planet Caravan." Black Sabbath is a band that likes a lean, consistent setlist, so we can't imagine this happening, but it would be a great parting gift to the fans. Sure, it would be even cooler to hear Masters of Reality or Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, but we gotta be somewhat realistic here.
There may be better odds of Dylan bringing out Joan Baez, Garth Hudson, Robbie Robertson and Scarlet Rivera for an old timers jam than him agreeing to play an old album, but if he did one it would likely be Highway 61 Revisited. Every single song from the album has been done in the past 12 years, with the exception of "From A Buick Six," which hasn't been touched since 1965. This is very, very unlikely though. This is a guy that doesn't hesitate to stuff half his set with Frank Sinatra songs. As long as we're living in fantasy world, though, how about a night of Street Legal or Infidels, complete with all the outtakes? The fans would die of shock should such a thing happen. Hint: It's not going to happen.
If you wanna get technical, Neil Young has occasionally played new albums like Greendale and Prairie Wind straight through right around the time they came out. But he's never gone out and done an old one. It simply goes against his anti-nostalgia, "I'm-not-going-back-to-Woodstock" mindset. If he ever changes his mind, we'd love to hear 1976's Zuma. The same Crazy Horse lineup of Ralph Molina, Billy Talbot and Poncho Sampedro that cut the album with Young is alive and well today. A minor stroke took Talbot briefly out of commission in 2014, but Young claims he's back in fighting shape. Should Crazy Horse ever tour again, the fans would be thrilled to hear Zuma. It would involve the first live "Through My Sails" in history and a supremely rare "Pardon My Heart," but neither of those are major lifts. Don't hold your breath waiting for this one to happen though.
Elton John has no problem devoting nearly his entire set to songs from his 1970s heyday, but for some reason he's balked at jumping on the complete album show bandwagon. He did a tiny handful of Captain Fantastic shows in 2005, but that's it. We'd love to hear any of his albums from 1970 to 1976, but our favorite is Tumbleweed Connection. It's also the one with the most cohesive theme, so such a show makes a lot of sense. He hasn't done "My Father's Gun" or "Amoreena" since the 1970s, but he's got a band full of pros ready to play anything. This year marks not just his 70th birthday, but also his 50th anniversary of working with Bernie Taupin. What better way to celebrate than playing the albums?
Phil Collins is launching a comeback tour this year even though he hasn't released an album of original material since 2002's Testify. He's got enough hits to pack an entire show, but it would be a lot of fun if he played his debut in its entirety. It's his best album and he hasn't done great songs like "The Roof Is Leaking" in over a quarter century. It'll be a fun way to break up the standard hits revue. And should he ever go back to Genesis, there's a ton of other albums we'd love to hear – but let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Shortly before Billy Joel came out of semi-retirement in 2013, he spoke to Rolling Stone about his future plans. "If I was going to play again in places like New York, I would probably feature entire albums," he said. "It would give me a chance to do songs we haven't played. We'd do one album and then play some obscurities. I enjoy playing those more than I enjoy playing the hits." Billy, what happened? This was a stellar plan. You play Madison Square Garden every single month and always try to make each show special. Why not surprise everyone and break out The Stranger this year? Six of the eight songs are regulars at your show. "Get It Right the First Time" hasn't been done since 1979 and "Everybody Has a Dream" hasn't surfaced since a one-off in 1998, but you can learn two songs. C'mon. It's time. While you're at it, how about doing Songs in the Attic in sequence?
Rod Stewart challenged his audience last year when he played a huge show in London's Hyde Park that was nothing but rarities. There was no "Maggie May," "Forever Young," "Reason to Believe" or even "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy." It's easy to imagine that many fans walked away a little disappointed, but there's an easy solution. He just needs to play Every Picture Tells a Story. That means he'll still do "Maggie May," "Mandolin Wind" and "Reason to Believe," but also "Every Picture Tells a Story," "Seems Like a Long Time" and "That's All Right." It's win/win. He can also do Gasoline Alley and we'll be pretty happy. Rod, your pick.
Tom Petty originally planned on playing Wildflowers straight through this year, but it eventually morphed into a 40th anniversary tour with Wildflowers pushed back to some point in the future. But there's no reason he still can't do a beloved album at some of the shows. The obvious choice is Damn the Torpedoes. That means big hits – like "Refugee," "Here Comes My Girl" and "Even the Losers" – along with lesser-known songs, such as "Louisiana Rain" and "You Tell Me." As long as he's at it, he should also do the amazing B-side "Casa Dega" from that time period. An Echo tour also remains in our fantasies, but we gotta be somewhat realistic here.
It's been a long time since Madonna has released an album that connected with a mass audience, and her live show tends to be divided evenly between huge hits and brand new tunes much of the arena doesn't know. Why not break out of that cycle by re-staging a classic album like True Blue? Songs like "Live to Tell," "Papa Don't Preach" and "Open Your Heart" have aged remarkably well. It would be a huge event that would really fire up the Madonna faithful. From there, she could do Ray of Light and Like a Prayer. It would be the perfect way to give her career a huge jolt.
It seems pretty unlikely that Stevie Nicks is going to agree to record a new Fleetwood Mac album anytime soon, which means their shows will continue to focus exclusively on the music they made between 1975 and 1987. A tour late in the year or early 2018 seems like a very safe bet at this point, but it would be a shame if it was just a repeat of the last one. With Christine McVie back in the fold now, they have the chance to do Rumors straight through. They already do nine of the eleven songs. They'd just need to add in "I Don't Want To Know," "Oh Daddy" and then play them all in sequence. The hardcores are going to ask for Tusk, but let's do one thing at a time here. We need to live in the land of the possible.