Friday, 5 August 2011

Life of Live - REM

I've only seen REM live once and it was on the back of their touring Monster in 1995. Having got all their lps up to that point liking the mumbling jangly early stuff as much as the later world dominating major label releases. However Monster was the first lp that I didn't much care for - it was when they were meant to have gone rock as a reaction to having a mandolin all over Automatic for the People.

I went to the concert at Milton Keynes Bowl basically because I'd been given a free ticket. Michael Stipe had shaved his head and starting wearing eye liner, it was all very rock and roll.

The gig was fantastic. Despite being the first tour for 6 years, by the time they got to the UK they knew how to put on a great show, new songs sounded so much better live and Stipe was pure charisma and stage presence. It seems strange now that at the time they were duking it out with U2 to claim the biggest band in the world title. On the back of this concert you could see why.

I still think Monster is patchy at best but it does contain one of my favourite singles by the band

Bang and Blame - REM

The whole tour was a bit of a watershed moment, they followed it with the recorded on tour and distinctly lacking in single material New Adventures in Hi Fi. Bill Berry left and as a 3 piece they tried experimental , more middle of the road sound and eventually back to rock again with each lp greeted with a "return to form" claim ( I really like the trio of lps they first did as a 3 piece - Reveal , Up and Around the Sun but I think I'm in the minority)

Not from Milton Keynes but the above was from the same tour and gives you an idea of what they were like live at the time.

Support came from Blur who for some reason had a big inflatable Burger as a backdrop (although I may have dreamt this) and I remember thinking that the chirpy sounds of Parklife didn't translate well to an open air stadium on a summer afternoon, and that they would probably disappear back to indiedom..... which shows what I know

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