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Evolution of The Beatles Setlist

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Found this on Bootlegzone Forums:

--- Quote ---A while after Purple Chick finished the stellar Beatles Live sets, I sat down and listened to the bulk of the Beatles' live material. I watched as they deteriorated from their heroic Star Club heights to their terrifying, pretty bad Memphis lows. I also noticed that, it seems, they never seemed to totally revamp their setlist; instead, they took what they had previously and simply replaced some old stuff with new material. Instead of just changing, their setlist evolved.

I figured, since I was bored, I might as well dig into exactly how it changed.

I'm starting with the first full setlist I've seen that took place during the era where they were written down regularly; the "It's The Beatles" concert, December 7, 1963.

1. From Me To You
2. I Saw Her Standing There
3. All My Loving
4. Roll Over Beethoven
5. Boys
6. 'Till There Was You
7. She Loves You
8. This Boy
9. I Want To Hold Your Hand
10. Money (That's What I Want)
11. Twist And Shout
12. From Me To You (Reprise)

What we see is a compilation of songs from their first two albums, plus some singles. Love Me Do, the first hit single, is already out of the setlist; many a #1 will follow it over the years.
The "Ringo" song is Boys, the "George" song is Roll Over Beethoven. It's odd that Ringo's song is still from the first album, where George has already moved on to his new one.

Moving on, the next full-size show, the debut DC concert, Feb 11, 1964.

1. Roll Over Beethoven
2. From Me To You
3. I Saw Her Standing There
4. This Boy
5. All My Loving
6. I Wanna Be Your Man
7. Please Please Me
8. 'Till There Was You
9. She Loves You
10. I Want To Hold Your Hand
11. Twist And Shout
12. Long Tall Sally

FMTY Reprise, Boys, and Money are gone.
There's been some shuffling, making this probably the only setlist where George got the opener. Ringo's song has been updated to it's With/Meet The Beatles status, and Please Please Me has been returned (probably because in the US, it's new; thanks, Vee-Jay). There is the odd presence of Long Tall Sally, which wouldn't be on a record until that June (although they'd played it before since the Star Club; maybe they figured more people in America would know the song). Regardless, this song would be a show closer until being replaced with Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby (and it would come back for the last American tour).

The next "full concert" we see is Adelaide, June 12, 1964:

1. I Saw Her Standing There
2. I Want To Hold Your Hand
3. All My Loving
4. She Loves You
5. 'Till There Was You
6. Roll Over Beethoven
7. Can't Buy Me Love
8. This Boy
9. Twist And Shout
10. Long Tall Sally

This is pretty much the same setlist that would be through the whole Australian tour. Please Please Me, From Me To You are gone. Can't Buy Me Love has been added for the first time. You'll also notice there's a lack of a Ringo song for the only time; this is because Ringo is absent and I guess they didn't want Jimmy Nichol singing "I Wanna Be Your Man". Near the end, on the 17th, You Can't Do That would be inserted to replace I Want To Hold Your Hand, at least for the time being.
Oddly, it seems even AFTER Ringo was back, there was no "Ringo" song in the setlist. It seems weird until you consider Ringo was recovering from tonsilitis.
Even with YCDT added in, this is the shortest Beatles setlist thanks to the lack of Ringo.

At this point, AHDN came out, and we saw tracks from it show up, but no full concert until the Coliseum, in Seattle, August 21, 1964.

1. Twist And Shout
2. You Can't Do That
3. All My Loving
4. She Loves You
5. Things We Said Today
6. Roll Over Beethoven
7. Can't Buy Me Love
8. If I Fell
9. I Want To Hold Your Hand
10. Boys
11. A Hard Day's Night
12. Long Tall Sally

I Saw Her Standing There, 'Till There Was You, This Boy are gone. Three new AHDN tracks are added, I Want To Hold Your Hand returns, and for some reason I Wanna Be Your Man has reverted to Boys (there's a bad pun in that somewhere). This would be the first Hollywood Bowl setlist. Twist And Shout will remain the opener until being replaced by She's A Woman a year later.

There's a dearth of full show recordings, and setlists as far as I know, until June of '65 (although the new stuff was added late '64.)
The next glimpse we see of a full new setlist would be at Palais des Sports, Paris, June 20, 1965...

1. Twist And Shout
2. She's A Woman
3. I'm A Loser
4. Can't Buy Me Love
5. Baby's In Black
6. I Wanna Be Your Man
7. A Hard Day's Night
8. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
9. Rock And Roll Music
10. I Feel Fine
11. Ticket To Ride
12. Long Tall Sally

Big changes here, mostly because of the two transitions we missed before Ticket To Ride; the release of I Feel Fine/She's A Woman and the release (obviously) of Beatles For Sale. We can guess that a late '64 setlist included a few songs that weren't Ticket To Ride, I Wanna Be Your Man (Boys), and apparently Kansas City/Hey-Hey-Hey-Hey was being played.
So, the changes. You Can't Do That, If I Fell, Things We Said Today, She Loves You, All My Loving, Roll Over Beethoven, I Want To Hold Your Hand, and Boys are gone.
Ringo's song is now "I Wanna Be Your Man" again, and George gets a new song for the first time; "Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby", of Beatles For Sale (which also features I'm A Loser, Baby's In Black, and Rock And Roll Music.) Both sides of the pre-BFS single are played, plus the new Ticket To Ride (but not Yes It Is, to the delight of many, I assume).
Twist And Shout still opens, Long Tall Sally still closes.

A while later, Help comes out, and the first example of the full Help!-era setlist: Shea Stadium, August 15, 1965.
It's worth mentioning that Yesterday had been played on Ed Sullivan, but would not enter the setlist until the electric arrangement in '66, maybe because they didn't feel like hauling an acoustic guitar around.

1. Twist And Shout
2. She's A Woman
3. I Feel Fine
4. Dizzy Miss Lizzy
5. Ticket To Ride
6. Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby
7. Can't Buy Me Love
8. Baby's In Black
9. Act Naturally
10. A Hard Day's Night
11. Help!
12. I'm Down

I'm A Loser, Rock And Roll Music, I Wanna Be Your Man, Long Tall Sally are out. Ringo's song is now Act Naturally, and the closer is now I'm Down (as it will stay until the last tour). Not that big a change.

Act Naturally wouldn't last long; in about a week, it was back to I Wanna Be Your Man, as it would stay for the rest of time.

Then came the late '65 UK tour. We've got nothing from that era, which is sad because that was the only time We Can Work It Out was played (apparently they brought out an organ, which would be hard to haul around.) A setilst seems to survive:

1. I Feel Fine
2. She's A Woman
3. If I Needed Someone
4. Act Naturally
5. Nowhere Man
6. Baby's In Black
7. Help!
8. We Can Work It Out
9. Yesterday
10. Day Tripper
11. I'm Down

It's a 11-song setlist instead of 12, which is odd. Twist And Shout, Dizzy Miss Lizzy, Ticket To Ride, Everybody's Trying To Be My Baby, Can't Buy Me Love, I Wanna Be Your Man, and A Hard Day's Night are all out (although, if indeed there were 12 songs, one of these other than IWBYM may have survived). George has a new song, If I Needed Someone, as it would stay for the rest of time. IWBYM is Act Naturally again. Nowhere Man has also been added, as has both sides of the new single, and Yesterday.
Twist And Shout would not return, but I Feel Fine would not open for long.

We reach mid-1966, and the final configuration of the setlist, first seen at the Grugahalle, in Essen, June 25, 1966...

1. Rock And Roll Music
2. She's A Woman
3. If I Needed Someone
4. Day Tripper
5. Baby's In Black
6. I Feel FIne
7. Yesterday
8. I Wanna Be Your Man
9. Nowhere Man
10. Paperback Writer
11. I'm Down

Another 11-song setlist! Slackers! We Can Work It Out, Act Naturally, and Help! are out. Ringo has gone back to I Wanna Be Your Man, Rock And Roll Music is back as an opener, and the new single is being played. (Not the B-side, sadly.) When this setlist was first installed, Revolver wasn't out yet; however, even once it came out, nothing from it would be played (George Martin mentions an attempt at Taxman in Japan during his book about Sgt. Pepper, "With A Little Help From My Friends", but that makes no sense and he's probably wrong.)

For the American leg of that tour, I'm Down was replaced with Long Tall Sally again.

And that's it. Not one song from three years earlier was still in the setlist, the oldest being "I Wanna Be Your Man" from With The Beatles (first in the second setlist configuration). Beyond that, no pre-I Feel Fine material (Long Tall Sally excluded).

And for sh*ts and giggles,

1. Get Back
2. Get Back
3. I Want You (She's So Heavy)
4. Get Back
5. Don't Let Me Down
6. I've Got A Feeling
7. One After 909
8. Dig A Pony
9. God Save The Queen
10. I've Got A Feeling
11. Don't Let Me Down
12. Get Back

Bleh. Overrated if you weren't backstage.

So, discuss. Any major errors, changes I missed, et cetera? I'm thinking about doing this again for Paul's solo setlist, if I get really bored.

--- End quote ---

Very interesting to see how the setlist evolved over the years. Thanks for that BM.

Thank you , BM, that was great!

Out Of Me Head:
Were these office workers not shouting "change the record" by the fourth go at Get Back?

Apologies for reviving a 15-month-old thread, but I was looking for posts discussing the December 1965 UK tour and I found this one.

That's a great discussion of the evolution of the set list through the Beatlemania years.

They obviously did put some thought into their set list - they didn't just get up on stage and knock out their greatest hits for 25 minutes and walk off (surprising how much thought they did put in considering they knew that no-one could hear them anyway!!).

There's always a cover version rocker or two for John, and from '64 onwards McCartney gets to squeal a Little Richard-esque number at the end.

George and Ringo get one each in the middle of the set (apart from Washington '64 when George gets the opener).

And there's always a ballad in there.

There's normally a couple of the most recent hit singles included, but they don't dwell on past glories and churn out a bunch of their earlier hits. There are only a couple of instances of songs being used in the set that were more than 18 months old - I Feel Fine/She's A Woman and a couple of Beatles For Sale tracks (all from late-64) are hanging on in there on the summer '66 tours, and they resurrected a few 1963 tunes for the summer 1964 US shows - but that was only because those songs had become hits all over again. Lennon even points out the fact on the Hollywood Bowl LP: "The next number's an oldie ... some of you older people might remember .... it's from last year .... it's called She Loves You". Twist & Shout and I Wanna Be Your Man are the only '63-era songs to make it into '65, and only the latter song makes it all the way to the final tours of 1966.

The rest of the set would be rounded out with a B-side or maybe a track or two from their most recent album.

As the original poster pointed out, the set evolves over the years rather than seeing wholesale changes from tour to tour, which is interesting. They were only playing for 25-30 minutes so could easily have filled several sets with popular tunes.

I wish there was a tape somewhere of a December 1965 UK show - I'd love to hear them doing We Can Work It Out!


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