Monday, September 1, 2008

R.E.M. @ Twickenham 30/08/08 - Review

I went to see R.E.M. at Twickenham last night and it was awesome. I suppose I always say that after one of their concerts but the setlist was just so strong last night. There were several songs that I never thought I'd get to hear live in person but they were performed last night.

They opened up strongly with Living Wells the Best Revenge, These Days,The Wake-up Bomb and What's The Frequency, Kenneth?. Four rocking songs that really get the crowd going, especially Kenneth as it is the most well know of the opening salvo. For me Wake-up Bomb is the highlight as I've only seen them perform it on a couple of occassions and I've always like the song. It does sound slightly different live, just louder than the album.

They then start up with Drive that always goes down well with audiences as it is both familiar and always gets people clapping along to the strong beat. I always look forward to this song. Following that we have a quick blast of hard fast rock in Man-Sized Wreath that Stipe told us last night is written about Martin Luther King. Another rarity in the shape of Disturbance at the Heron gets played, which gets a lot of confused looks from non-fans but the diehards go mad (including me).

After that we get a little political with Stipe airing the bands hopes for the forth coming presidential election in the US. Of course they want Obama to "get the Bush the **** out of office and Obama the **** into office". They play the song Ignoreland which I am sure I've never heard live before and it was simply amazing. I was never fond of the album version but with having it performed after the political talk it gave the song new meaning. Plus it sounded really cool. Walk Unafraid is up next and is as usual a high point of the show, a real rocking song from an album (Up) that is decidedly non-rock.

The next song starts slow but is soon going along a good pace with Hollowman and the crowd seems to like this one very much. Then we have one of the all-time classic songs Fall On Me that gets every one going with hands in the air. When Electrolite gets performed next Stipe encourages everyone to wave their mobile in the air to recreate the look of Los Angeles at night. The effect looks cool on the big screens. The following song really surprises me, The Great Beyond. The crowd goes wild for it, I remember later it is the bands biggest commercial hit in the UK. The next song is my one of my least favourite in the entire back catalogue I'm Gonna DJ. This had taken over as the final song at concerts so I'm left wondering what is going to fill the gap. At least we have that song out of the way.

Up next we get Exhuming McCarthy which gets strange looks from some people as it starts with a tape recording of an old political speech. Just like it does on the album. It has always been a very enjoyable song for me so it is nice to hear it performed. The One I Love starts up and once again is a mega hit with the crowd. It is always fun to look around and see couples holding hands during this and having a smug laugh to myself as I know this song is really the reverse of a love song. During the song, Stipe gets upclose and personal with the crowd which is cool.

The band then decide to take the tempo down and play I've Been High a really soft song that sounds really good live. The next song is the biggest surprise and the highlight of the night, an acoustic version of Let Me In. I've never heard it live in person and hearing an acoustic version is even more rare. Truly amazing performance of the song and to see the band huddled around the piano playing it was some sight. With a couple of slow songs done we get some high octane performances coming.

Horse to Water blasts out and I'm jumping around as you have to do to this song and it's crazy chorus. It is a newer song so most people don't know it but I'm loving it. The Bad Day starts up and everyone knows it and then we have everyone jumping around. As this song ends with everyone clapping in unison they start immediately into Orange Crush as the crowd continues to clap. This song is a staple of the R.E.M. live set and every time I hear it, I know why. It just rocks. Another surprise next is the reaction to Imitation to Life, the crowd goes wild. It is a good song no doubt but everyone seems to really love it. It sounds a little harder than the album and I like it, especially as the crowd really gets into it.


The encore starts with Supernatural Superserious, which is a good choice for two reasons - it is fast and recognisable. Losing My Religion is up next and as you'd expect the crowd love it. The next song is Perfect Circle, from their first album and another rarity. It is a really nice slow song. Country Feedback comes along and it has always been a favourite. The live version they play is always superior to the album version as Peter Buck likes to get carried away with the guitar. This is a stunning performance. The band finished up with the old one-two of It's The End of the World and Man On the Moon. Both get the crowd really involved and wrap up a superb concert.

Certainly a highlight of this year.

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