5 iconic rock band’s very first setlists
Rock News

5 iconic rock band’s very first setlists

And videos of a couple of their first gigs!
20 December 2022 3:15PM

2022 saw a bunch of rock acts announce performances on our side of the globe. 

With live shows slowly but surely coming back into full swing, we thought we’d check out the setlists that five iconic rock bands started off with.

Editors note: Not gonna lie, I just straight up chose 5 of my favourite iconic rock bands, so don’t be mad if your favourite isn’t on this list! 

Cheers to Setlist.fm for providing all of the setlists. 

AC/DC

AC/DC’s first ever performance was on December 31st, 1973 at Chequers Nightclub in Sydney. Back then, the band consisted of Dave Evans (vocals), Malcolm Young (guitar), Angus Young (guitar), Larry Van Kriedt (bass) and Colin Burgess (drums). 

They performed two different sets at the club, with a set of mainly covers from The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. Check out the setlist below:

Set 1)

School Days (Chuck Berry cover) (from TNT, 1975)

Honky Tonk Women (Rolling Stones cover)

Get Back (The Beatles cover)

Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones cover)

No Particular Place To Go (Chuck Berry cover)

I Want You (She’s So Heavy) The Beatles cover)

The Old Bay Road

Midnight Rock

Show Business (from High Voltage, 1975)

Rock N Roll Singer (from TNT, 1975)

Soul Stripper (from High Voltage, 1975)

Rockin’ In The Parlour (b-side of Can I Sit Next To Your Girl, 1974)

Can I Sit Next To You Girl (from TNT, 1975)

Baby Please Don’t Go (Big Joe Williams cover) (from High Voltage, 1975)

Set 2)

School Days (Chuck Berry cover) (from TNT, 1975)

Honky Tonk Women (Rolling Stones cover)

Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Rolling Stones cover)

Nadine (Chuck Berry cover)

Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis Presley cover)

That’s Alright Mama (Elvis Presley cover)

Tutti Fruitti (Little Richard cover)

The Old Bay Road

Midnight Rock

I Want You (She’s So Heavy) The Beatles cover)

No Particular Place To Go (Chuck Berry cover)

Lucille (Little Richard cover)

Get Back (The Beatles cover)

All Right Now (Free cover)

While we don’t have any footage of AC/DC’s first ever live performance, we did manage to find a recording of them playing ‘Can I Sit Next To You Girl’ from 1973:

Foo Fighters

Bassist Nate Mendel, drummer William Goldsmith, frontman Dave Grohl and his Nirvana bandmate guitarist Pat Smear, took the stage for the very first time as the Foo Fighters on February 19th, 1995. 

They performed at a loft party to a group of friends and family in downtown Seattle in the Marine building, where a couple of Mendel’s friends were illegally living at the time. 

It was Grohl’s first live performance since Nirvana, and the band performed mostly tracks from their very first album, with a couple others in the mix. 

Have a look at the setlist below:

Winnebago (Late! cover)

This Is A Call

I’ll Stick Around

Butterflies

Floaty

Big Me

Wattershed

For All The Cows

Good Grief

Alone + Easy Target

Podunk

Exhausted

Speaking to Rolling Stone in 2015, Grohl said: 

“I remember it being such a huge relief that we just made it to the end and then it was maybe a month later that I heard the recording of it – and I was fucking mortified.

“I thought we sounded great and I heard the recording like, ‘Ohhh . . . that’s the Foo Fighters? We’ve got to practice.'” 

Unfortunately Grohl is still trying to hunt down the bootleg of the Foos’ very first gig - but we have found a video of their full gig from just a couple weeks after their first performance. 

It features a very similar setlist to their first gig, and it’s pretty cool to be able to watch the thing in full. Check it out below: 

Metallica

40 years ago this year on March 14th, four kids from California performed as Metallica for the very first time at Radio City in Anaheim, California. Those kids were James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Ron McGovney and Dave Mustaine.

Hetfield was solely on vocals for Metallica’s first gig, and told Kerrang! a few years ago:

"There were a lot of people there, maybe 200, because we had all my school friends and all Lars' and Ron's and Dave's buddies. I was really nervous and a little uncomfortable without a guitar, and then during the first song Dave broke a string.

“It seemed to take him eternity to change it and I was standing there really embarrassed. We were really disappointed afterwards. But there were never as many people at the following shows as there were at that first one."

The band’s first set only included two originals, and the rest were covers. Check out the setlist below:

‘Hit the Lights’ (Hetfield, Ulrich)

‘Blitzkrieg’ (Blitzkrieg cover)

‘Helpless’ (Diamond Head cover)

‘Jump in the Fire’ (Hetfield, Ulrich, Mustaine)

‘Let It Loose’ (Savage cover)

‘Sucking My Love’ (Diamond Head cover)

‘Am I Evil?’ (Diamond Head cover)

‘The Prince’ (Diamond Head cover)

‘Killing Time’ (Sweet Savage cover)

To mark their 40th anniversary for their first gig earlier this year, Metallica shared a photo of their hand-written setlist, as well as the flyer for their show. Have a look below.

Tool

Tool’s very first performance was believed to be on July 10th 1991, and luckily for us, there’s fan-shot-footage from the night. Frontman Maynard James Keenan’s energy is absolutely insane in the footage, and honestly a little unsettling. 

The frontman was going through a dark time around their first gig. He wrote in his book:

"Then I lose everything and I'm living on $400 a month. I needed to destroy. I needed to primal scream and I needed to be loud enough to make people go, 'What the fuck was that?!' I needed to get it out. It was that tipping point where you either become a serial killer or a rock star."

There’s not much reported on Tool’s very first gig, but from the footage, we definitely know they played their early versions of:

Part of Me

Hush

Sweat

Cold and Ugly

Sober

Have a watch below:

Rage Against the Machine

Rage first performed in front of a crowd on October 23rd, 1991, at California State University. 

The gig, which was completely free, was all captured on film, where you can see some students walking by to get to their next lecture, and others sticking around to jam.

Leadman Zach de la Rocha was only 21 at the time. Bassist Tim Commerford and stickman Brad Wick were just 23, while guitarist Tom Morello was the oldest at 27.

The baby-faced band ripping through 11 tracks, with the opener being a very early version of the legendary ‘Killing in the Name’.

In fact, this performance happened before their debut album was even recorded, making the footage even more insane to watch. 

Check out the iconic setlist and full performance below.

Killing In The Name (instrumental)

Take The Power Back

Autologic

Bullet In The Head

Hit The Deck

Township Rebellion

Darkness Of Greed

Clear The Lane

Clampdown

Know Your Enemy

Freedom

What a treat!