I would have to agree with an old Rolling Stone article – there was a time when R.E.M. was the greatest band in the world. I tried to not like them back in the eighties if that makes any sense because they weren’t punk rock and they weren’t new wave. What they were was something very unique at the time; a great rock and roll band that featured a jangle pop style on the guitar and vocals that were barely discernible half the time. This band was truly cool and delivered a type of alternative rock that would influence the music world for decades. Still does. It became cool to like a current band that had elements of Big Star, The Byrds and The Velvet Underground and I feel very fortunate that their music played a big role in my life during my high school and early college years. Yeah, their style changed after the Life’s Rich Pageant album but looking back it was never a case where R.E.M. “sold out.” Nope, the mainstream just wised up and flocked to the band instead which is exactly what should happen when a band possesses that kind of integrity and pays the dues that they did.
I saw R.E.M. on three straight tours to the Valley of the Sun supporting Fables of the Reconstruction at the Palace West (now the Orpheum Theater for you Phoenix rookies), Life’s Rich Pageant (which celebrates its 30th anniversary today!) at Mesa Amphitheater and Document at Gammage. I’m still pissed at the security guard that “stole” the bootleg I was making at the Document show. All three performances were incredible with the Fables show still one of my all-time favorite concerts. Peter Buck was so cool on the axe, the rhythm section of Mike Mills on bass and Bill Berry on the drums created an incredibly solid foundation and Michael Stipe had the perfect vocal delivery to complement the electricity of the music.
They could play the exact set list from the Palace West show and I would be in heaven. Hearing the train arrive at the station to lead off “Feeling Gravity’s Pull” was such an intense moment, just one of many highlights from the night. However, this is my Musings so once again I will be selfish. 😉
Yeah, that’s a bad ass show. Yes I am well aware of the lack of material after Document. FYI, on track #20 “Time After Time” leads into “So. Central Rain” which is the actual track I selected but I thought for this post it was cool to select that live version. I’m not sure if it shows up on any other album from REM, so if you can find In the Attic that live track alone is worth the cost of the album.