Should bands play encores?

After Renigate the old argument about encores has raised its leary head.


At the Amsterdam gig, problems with monitors meant that Reni was less than keen to play on encore whilst Ian Brown was keen for one more song causing the famous bust up.


It’s not an unusual argument. Singers are used to rubbish monitors and, being closest to audience, are the most drawn to playing an encore despite the situation.

Many bands have fallen out over encores over the years and there are many differing attitudes to them…



The set reaches a climax, a dramatic pause then the orgasmic rush of the held back classic tunes, the venue is in meltdown and everyone has got their money’s worth. It’s an attractive proposition and one that is easy to drift into. The encore has been part and parcel of music since day one, a leftover from ancient times, why mess with something that works? The audience has spent good money and wants a show and wants a reward for its loyalty as you plod through the dreaded tracks from the new album…now it’s time for the hits, for gods sake even the Fall play encores!



The encore is piece of hokey showbiz teasing that has no place in a serious band’s set up. Playing an encore is like assuming your audience are dumb, clapping chimps hopping with delight as the band drags themselves out for one more song. The climax has gone and this is the sticky wet damp on the sheets of rock n roll, the leftovers, the desperate attention seeking, crowd pleasing pat on the back.

The Stone Roses never used to play encores, neither didn’t Joy Division, leave them wanting more, the tease…



What do you think? Should bands play encores? Or are they too corny? Do they show a desperation to be loved…is music bigger than getting your money’s worth ?

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. I don’t mind breaks and then the set restarting. Kraftwerk have several planned pauses in their sets for costume changes and it’s great – it works.

    Encores should be spontaneous, not expected.

  2. Most of the time songs played in the encore were part of the set list, but it’s all about building up the audience anticipation, then ending the gig on a high!! But if a band played a full set without a break, it would bother me!! What I don’t like is a band coming back to do an encore that includes songs previously played earlier that night!!

    • yes, they did the once I saw them as well – it was ‘Warsaw’ if I remember correctly (it was obviously a long time ago).

  3. Personally I find scripted encores rather cheesy. By which I mean bands who have deliberately saved two (or more) popular songs to play after they’ve gone backstage for a few minutes, and they’re there at the bottom of the set list; they were never not going to be played, so why the farce? It’s a gig, not a fucking circus. Why not just play the set? Obviously I am going to stay and watch because it is part of the gig – “oh, so if the crowd hadn’t liked it you wouldn’t have played your best known song? Really?” but there’s nothing sadder than seeing a band come back after an under par performance to an indifferent crowd.

    One incident that sticks in my mind was a Manic Street Preachers gig in Derby in 2010. The band had played an absolutely blistering set – hardcore fans (which I’m not) described it as one of the best of the tour, encompassing songs from their entire career over the course of a relentless 90 minutes. They absolutely gave their all. They famously do not do encores. So I’m leaving and I hear this bloke in front of me say to his mate “No encore, the tight bastards” and he sounded actually disappointed. What a twat.

    Genuine encores, where a band knows they’ve played a blinder and the reception is overwhelming, can be amazing, especially when it happens at a level where bands don’t usually encore as a matter of course. But most of the time I’d rather just watch a good set, and if you want to end on your big single (as of course the Manics do) then just do it.

  4. yes, if they are a genuine encore. if the crowd want them back and the band decide to do something. and theres time to do it. not so easy these days.

    if its a planned part of the set, it isnt really an encore …..

    • what I really hate is bands that leave their hit until the encore. its like saying “we’ve only got one song and we’re going to make you beg for it”

  5. The Fall a couple of years ago at Manchester Academy.
    Brilliantly fierce gig, more than satisfied. Band finish. Band slope off to much stamping cheering and yells for more. Nothing. House lights go up. Half the punters have left when the band come on and do ONE MORE TUNE! Mad rush to the front for all who were still in the room. Bounce sweat bounce. Band leave.

  6. There is something exciting about an encore, especially if it was a killer show. Then the crowd is revved up, and when the band goes off, the noise of applause, screaming and the chanting for an encore fills the venue. Then the band returns and everyone goes bananas. Ya, it’s showmanship. Is it cheesy? It can be. But it’s still fun.

  7. I can’t believe, John Robb, that you’re attempting to turn what happened last night into an argument for or against doing encores. Reni storming off and Ian calling him a ‘c***’ to an audience who have waited over a decade to see them live isn’t only a totally unprofessional way to end a gig, it shows no respect for the fans at all. I am the Resurrection is their best number, and they owed it to their fans – and tickets for these shows have not been cheap – to play it to them.

  8. I think they should. Even if there was a fuck up at Roses gig that doesn’t mean other bands should leave after the set. The only problem with encores is that if you are waiting and it’s not happening – it’s really frustrating, especially if a band usually does them.

  9. Having been there last night, having spent a lot of money on the ticket, flight, and two days leave, is it too much to ask the drummer to grit his teeth and play the one song the entire audience wanted? Really? He’s being played an epic amount of money for this tour, I spent an epic amount of my money to see it. Complete disregard, unprofessional, and primadonna-esq behaviour. I felt/feel cheated. My favourite song of all time, I’ve waited years to see them do that song, and now I’m still waiting. Do they expect me to pay again, on the whim that Reni might get fucked off with a monitor? By the way, he’d managed the rest of the gig just fine. I hope he reads this as I feel owed big time. Thanks Reni. As for the question of encores, I don’t think anyone cares, just play the full set if you don’t want to come back out

  10. I agree with Leroy 100%.
    I wonder if it would be such a bad thing to get rid of Reni?
    I noticed at the footage of the press conference, he was playing, “I’m top status” and interupting and contradicting the others, particularly Ian Brown…. and now he is playing that game onstage too.
    Get rid.

  11. Whether or not they play an encore I really think bands should play around two hours if they’re charging over fifteen quid a ticket. If the Stranglers’ Jet Black can do two hour sets in his seventies then the younger musicians shoul keep up!

    It is generally expected that a band encores, so much so that if they don’t it causes aggravation. Killing Joke couldn’t encore in Sheffield and this meant women leaning on tha frot barrier got plastic cups thrown on their heads. I told these angry people to calm down as they got a great gig and for all they kew one of the band could have just died! I later was informed that Jaz was too sick to even stand up after the gig so it was even better that they played one of their best Gatherings in Manchester the next day.

  12. The anticipation of a genuine encore is exhilarating..impromptu or not. You want more? You shout for more? Still not heard? Shout louder! I’d say no band could resist the pull of a passionate, vocal and appreciative audience. Me?.. I’d want them to play their best set, one which the band had thought about and argued over… and if they’d played a blinder and worked the crowd up into a frenzy.. if more was wanted.. if more was demanded.. then I’d expect to see them back on stage to return the love.


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