Set Lists and why we love them as a souvenir that money can’t buy


Louis Berry

The Set List is a collector’s item for many and Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody shares his thoughts on an often overlooked gem.

They’re a kind of badge of honour.

An “I was there” proof.

Set lists are that rare piece of band merch that can’t be bought. You can have as many t-shirts, plectrums, posters or whatever else is on offer.

But, for most punters, you can only get a set list if you’re lucky and in the right place at the right time after the gig has finished.

Lots of bands don’t use them anymore, anyway. Not the paper kind. There will be some app or another on a phone perched on the keyboards or behind the drums.

So, this is a kind of thanks to those bands who do put pen to paper, or at least print something out from a PC, and then place them carefully on the floor about five minutes before they come on stage.

They are invaluable to us reviewers and photographers who are writing up your gig. We aren’t always entirely so familiar with your work we can rattle off the set, in order, to our mates in the pub the next night.

You may be doing songs from your yet-to-be released new album and we’ve never heard them before.

Some of them will give us little clues as to where the speaking bits will be – thanks, Tom.

Others disclose the encore – thanks Frank.

We enjoy the different use of font or handwriting. We enjoy the fact we have something to take home with us.

So, to all those bands who use a paper set list, we’re grateful and we thank you.

They are a tiny insight into your mindset.

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There are bands who use abbreviations or initials for their songs, such as Black Honey and those who meticulously spell out all the details, such as The Magic Band – a gig which will live in the memory as one we very nearly didn’t get to see at all and required a clandestine back door meet up with “a guy who will get you in”.

There’s the wall of mountainous batch of set lists posted after every show at Primavera which are scrutinised by journalists from all over the world.

Chelcee Grimes’ list was a complete unknown to us before she came on stage. All we knew before the gig was that she also plays football. It was a revelation, though, and one of the best gigs we saw that year.

SPINN get two appearances in this gallery, but the award for the most inventive list is going to Spoon for their use of the Radiohead style Microgamma font on their list. Bonus points, if needed for the use of all capitals, too.

Images by Getintothis’ Peter Goodbody, Lucy McLachlan, Amy Faith and Peter Guy.