When was the last time you went to a concert and they DIDN'T perform an Encore number?
I mean seriously?! Is it even special any more?
I feel like this is one of those "back when I was young" posts. I used to think an encore meant something. It used to mean that the concert was over, but the people were cheering so loud, and kept clapping so long, that the performers couldn't help but give them more. They had done a great show, an amazing show, and the audience wanted more. They yearned for more, they yelled and clapped and pleaded for more because the night was too perfect to end - they wanted it to last just a little bit longer.
THAT - is when you play an encore.
There are very few times that an Encore should be planned.
Sure - you can have some songs prepared to play as an encore if it's really deserved, but you should only plan on doing an encore ahead of time when you have something in reserve that is REALLY amazing that doesn't fit in the regular performance.
FOR EXAMPLE: I went to see the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary Concert. (I watched it in a theater in my hometown, I couldn't really afford the money or time to fly to London and see it live in the O2.)
They sang the entire musical of Les Miserables. It is a set show, with all the songs and roles already set out. The only people watching the concert are likely to be HUGE fans already. They're the kind of fans who can tell you who played the lead characters in the original Broadway version, and they know every song by heart.
THAT is when you are allowed to plan an Encore. They planned to bring the original 1985 cast on stage and have them sing a huge production number to please the fans who adored the concert:
Then they had 4 different singers perform the most heartfelt and slowest song of the show in perfect harmony:
You can hear the audience cheer the moment they realize what is happening - they can't help it. They love the music, the singers, the moment. Their passion and excitement drives them to plead for more.
THAT is the feeling and moment that deserves an Encore.
It is also the feeling and moment that deserves a Standing Ovation.
I have been at far too many concerts where the audience only stood because they felt obliged to do so. The performance ended, they sat and clapped, some people stood, then the rest of us couldn't see the performers bowing so we leaned forward in our chairs and slowly stood.
Then at least we could see and didn't feel out of place by still sitting.
Don't get me wrong, lots of shows are good. They deserve the money you paid for the ticket, and applause at the end. They even merit waiting around for signatures or pictures. But do they all merit standing ovations?
Have we cheapened the concert experience by making standing ovations and encores mandatory?
If we treat every performance like it was special, then how do we show the performers the difference when they do something REALLY amazing? How do we say "I know I stood up and yelled 'encore' the last 16 times you performed - but this time I really mean it!"
It's like the boy who cried 'wolf.' Eventually people doubt your sincerity, and then when you really want to get your message across, it will fall on deaf ears.
Out of respect for the performers: plan on staying in your seat at the end, and don't expect an encore. Then when you can't help but stand, and can't help but beg for more - they'll know you mean it.