How To Construct Your Set List? Start At The End

Set list

Performing as part of the Harvey Duo, Alan Harvey and I once spent ages before a gig deciding in what order to play our songs. Just for fun, on this one occasion, we agreed to perform our songs in strict alphabetical order starting with Another Cup Of Coffee by Mike & The Mechanics. It worked perfectly until we got to end the gig. We couldn’t think of a decent finisher ending with the letter Z!

What is the best way to construct a set list? We started from the end and work backwards!

To get a set list first of all – I ask myself – will I get an encore?

I know this may seem very unlikely but it does happen!

If I’m the last act it’s often traditional to get asked to play an extra song to end the evening. A lot obviously depends on how good I was and whether I ran to time or not! You can usually check whether an encore is expected by having a quiet work with the MC before you start playing.

Most MCs will discuss timings before you start and ask you whether you wanted to be reminded you had 10 minutes left to play etc.

If there is a chance of playing an encore, I play something upbeat so the audience goes home on a high. Sometimes there is enough time for 2 songs!

I never ask my audience if I should play an encore – I think its a little pretentious – so I always prompt a couple of people to shout “More!” before I start playing 🙂

Generating your setlist


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