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Evolution of Concert Style and Content


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Thread Starter
It seems to me that there are three versions of Carpenters concerts: 1- Early fame, 2- Hits plus the Oldies included, and 3- the Show style- found in concerts 1976 forward. Had things changed, how do you think Karen and Richard's show would have evolved?

David A

Well-Known Member
Fun :) Two thoughts:

Had the Carpenters not had any new monster hits, I believe they would have remained in "Show Style" as long as the act remained a duo. There would of course be changes over time to songs performed, lighting, staging, but fundamentally a "show".

Had the Carpenters had some kind of big resurgence that included a number of new top 5 hits, they _might_ have returned to what you call the "Hits plus the Oldies" format, in order to focus on and push the new hits.

New hits or not, aside from perhaps some extended Vegas gigs, I suspect that they would have cut way back on touring for the most part. Given their experience with the impact of excessive touring on their lives and health, I think those days were gone for the duo. I do think they would have continued to do TV specials, either their own or as guests (Holiday specials in particular), at least through the 1980's.

When I look at the Carpenters beyond the 1980's I have a harder time envisioning them as a duo, or what they'd be doing. So many variables.


Well-Known Member
Thread Starter
Given Richard's love for the Music, Music, Music special, I could see them including a mini-medley of American Standards to replace Grease and also replacing Warsaw Concerto with Slaughter on 10th Avenue. I can't imagine an opening number to replace Hush (aside from perhaps a reworked Top of the World), but I can see the Flat Baroque intro becoming a staple.


Well-Known Member
Would hope that their concerts would be lengthened to at least 90 minutes in duration with the hits being performed in their entirety with a lesser emphasis on medleys. Would think that Karen's drum solo would be eventually removed as she continued to age, or at least something different than "Strike Up The Band" which was becoming too repetitive in concert and on their specials. Richard would need to choose something other than the also repetitive "Warsaw Concerto" to allow for a wardrobe change for Karen. A nice addition would be them together with two stools, no music and harmonizing together similar to their "From This Moment On" segment from one of their specials which also would give the band a break. Also, two songs for the encore would be wonderful!
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Another Son

Well-Known Member
I don’t know, but I do have some comments about what I agree to be three distinct concert styles.

The first style, just a straight-forward presentation of songs, including full versions of all the hits, was the most satisfying. Yes, the presentation might be thought of as a bit dull by today’s standards, but back then, that was totally acceptable and usual for pop concerts. What could actually be more exciting than hearing Karen and Richard sing all those great songs all the way through?

The 1974-era concerts still had just a few of the great songs sung all the way through. Unfortunately, other great songs like ‘Superstar’, ‘Rainy Days & Mondays’, ‘Hurting Each Other’ and, usually, ‘Yesterday Once More’ were reduced to less-than-satisfying medleys. And, yes, the 50s & 60s medley had energy and was entertaining and Doug Strawn and Skiles or Henderson had good voices, but I would much rather have heard just Karen sing complete versions of songs, (and less Richard on lead vocals, please).

The 1976-era concerts had almost every great song reduced to a few lines in an annoying medley. There was lots of superfluous time-filling - the ‘Spike Jones’ performance and Richard’s piano solo, for starters. While I would have enjoyed a different piano piece by Richard, I would have rathered less Richard on both vocals and piano solos. (Karen’s drum solo should stay). As well as all this, the songs that WERE sung were presented in a 1976 cabaretish style, rather than just sung in a natural way.

I know they were trying to do something more exciting and tell a story about their rise to success, (which actually worked, if you wanted to keep it in there), but the 1976-era shows seemed all wrong.


Well-Known Member
I do think that a residency in Las Vegas would have been the perfect fit for them. Worked well for Barry Manilow, Donnie and Marie, Mariah Carey and an astounding 19 years for Celine Dion. The wear and tear of traveling across the USA would be eliminated and they could still perform for their fans in Japan and the UK on occasion. Private jet for the short flight to their LA area homes during their breaks with the Las Vegas schedule and Richard could rotate the classics out of the warehouse for the drive back and forth if he chose!

Simon KC1950

Well-Known Member
I recently did a post on my page on their 1976 tour and by the time they got to London the show was very different to the tour in Japan earlier in the year. Contrast the two below:

Early 1976 set list
  1. We've Only Just Begun
  2. Only Yesterday
  3. Top of the World
  4. Superstar
  5. Rainy Days And Mondays
  6. Goodbye To Love
  7. Karen's drumming solo
    1. Spoke intro with drumming buildup​
    2. Strike Up The Band​
    3. S'Wonderful​
  8. Flat Baroque​
  9. Jazzy song (Unsure of name) (Doug)​
  10. Yesterday Once More​
  11. Oldies Medley
    1. Little Honda​
    2. The End Of The World​
    3. Please Mr Postman​
    4. Da Doo Ron Ron​
    5. Leader of the Pack​
    6. Johnny Angel​
    7. Book of Love​
    8. Johnny B. Goode​
  12. Sing​
  13. There's A Kind Of Hush​
  14. (They Long To Be) Close To You​
  15. We've Only Just Begun​
  16. Jambalaya (On The Bayou)​

Late 1976 set list
  1. Overture: Flat Baroque/Only Yesterday
  2. There's A Kind Of Hush
  3. Jambalaya (On The Bayou)
  4. I Need To Be In Love
  5. Spike Jones Close To You
  6. Don't Be Afraid/Interactive Sing
  7. Mr. Guder
  8. Yesterday Once More
  9. Grease Medley
    1. We Go Together (Richard)​
    2. Grease Lightening​
    3. We Go Together (Karen)​
    4. Beauty School Drop Out​
    5. Look At Me, I'm Sandra Dee​
    6. Yesterday Once More (Richard)​
  10. Piano Picker
  11. Karen's drumming solo
    1. Strike Up The Band​
    2. S'Wonderful​
    3. Fascinatin' Rhythm​
  12. Warsaw Concerto​
  13. From This Moment On​
  14. Carpenters Hits Medley
    1. Close To You​
    2. For All We Know​
    3. Top Of The World​
    4. Ticket To Ride​
    5. Only Yesterday​
    6. I Won't Last A Day Without You​
    7. Hurting Each Other​
    8. Please Mr. Postman (in some concerts)​
    9. Superstar​
    10. Rainy Days And Mondays​
    11. Goodbye To Love​
  15. We've Only Just Begun​
  16. Encore: Coming Through The Rye/Good Vibrations (K&R Duet)​

. . . .

So you can see how the start of the year, the concert wasn't too different from previous years except for the addition of a few newer songs replacing a couple of the older ones, Please Mr. Postman sneaking its way into the Oldies medley and an early form of Karen's drum solo. Whilst later in the year we've got many newer things. "Sing" and Karen's drumming section have been redeveloped, the Oldies Medley has been completely replaced with a 1950's style Grease medley (2 years prior to the movie I might add) and only a few hits are performed in full with the rest arranged into a medley. A fun little encore of Karen duetting with Richard where she sang with John Denver on the first television special was also used. This can be explained by the settling of Ken and Mitzie Welch along with Joe Layton into the Carpenters crew. The Welch's wrote the script and directed the shows while Layton, a Broadway choreographer, designed the shows. The question is, which version would you have preferred to have been in the audience for?

Carpe diem

Well-Known Member
In real time with Karen being 70 and Richard 74 they would be doing "oldies cruises" and PBS specials to cater to aging baby-boomers (like me). I would also picture a lot of Vegas play and perhaps the Ozarks. And maybe even the tribal casinos in the US (a lot of them have outdoor venues now}. I feel their shows would be severely truncated, with medleys covering pretty much everything in their music library. And as Karen is a natural born comedian, the show would be full of light-hearted moments. This, of course, omits a healthy Karen and what impact she would've had on popular music these last 37 years...

Mike Blakesley

Well-Known Member
Staff member
Vegas, definitely. I've seen a couple of concerts there and the current trend is "all hits, no filler." So they probably would have done away with the hits medley and stretched the hits out to their fullness.

The Carpenters stage shows seem to have one foot stuck in Vaudeville, for some reason. From the set lists above they seem to be as much of a "revue" as a concert. The art form of the pop concert has evolved quite a bit in the last 15 years or so, especially with the increased use of video, so I think a modern-day Carpenters show would include a lot of video clips and a ton of costume changes, and mostly the hits.
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