In my opinion the tempo of each song a group plays should be written right on the set list and everyone in the group should be as committed to the tempo as they are the key.
Actually....they do....lol. So do vocalists, and bass players, and keyboard players, and violin\fiddle players, and....Guitarists must love playing with you.
And it should be consistent from show to show and rehearsal to rehearsal.I think tempo is important in the same way that key is important - everyone in the band should be in the same one, and it should be comfortable to everyone. And if there is a change, everyone should make it together.
See, this is why a group should decide on the tempo that makes them sound the best, write it down on the set list and play it there.When band members have different opinions on what the tempo should be, musical friction happens. I deal with this on a handful of songs.
That said, some songs lose their feel with any deviation of original tempo, where other songs have a pretty wide range of tempos where the song will still work well.
I like just shutting up and playing anymore. It's more important for me to enjoy my playing time than be to be right.
hERE'S AN IDEA. At your next "show" find a designated audience member and have him armed with a metronome. Until you get it at the tempo the rest of the crowd is reacting too, you just start over and over until you get it "right". But seriously, I've been to a lot of concerts from the Beatles to Motley Crew and many times their staple songs are at different tempos than what was recorded. Audience didn't seem to mind, even when a particular song was way off the metronomic paradigm. Many times the response was WOW, that sounds cool., As for marking the tempo on your song list, number one the band should collectively know the tempo of the songs rehearsed, and number two....guitarist Bob and bassist Joe may have differing opinions on what fast, medium and slow is. larryace and mongrel are more than correct when saying music is fluid and the audience doesn't analyze. They enjoy or walk out. But not over tempo.Music for me is a feel thing where rigidity can work too. Rigid is a feel. People's moods vary from night to night and their playing reflects that.
I found that from the audience's POV...THE most important part of any musician's performance is how much heart is put in it, and how much control the musician has.
Audiences latch onto that the most, period. They don't mentally deconstruct music like we do, they respond to the net effect.
It's good to always be evaluating the net effect of what I'm playing. Try and hear it like the audience hears it.
As a drummer, working the emotion thing is a skill. Like building tension....not releasing...this creates a certain atmosphere. I like to control that emotional atmosphere like a puppeteer, using it in a way that I know works really well.
What?Seems the concept of repeatable muscle memory is lost on this audience.
Play a drum part at 5 different tempos, and then play it some random 6th tempo.
Now play that same part 5 times at the same tempo. Then do it one more time at that tempo and assess your accuracy and groove.
Which time do you think you'll play it better?
It's like everyone here wants to complain about the time keeping of the guitar players they play with but they don't want to do a single thing to fix it.
Bermuda on a few occasions has mentioned he likes to "sing" the song to himself to help establish tempo in mind/body and then goes with it.