R.E.M.UNO Lakefront Arena
September 23, 2003
Yeah, so drummer Bill Berry is gone, but I had to see them. I would have regretted it. Especially since I liked the two albums they did after Berry left. The show was great--to be short.
The three faces of bassist/vocalist Mike Mills, guitarist Peter Buck and vocalist Michael Stipe hung from the top of the stage in large, sequined cut-outs, as if to say, "Hey, at least we're still here."
I own the "Road Movie" DVD that documented their Monster tour, so I knew what to expect. The drummer didn't play exactly what Berry did, but how could I expect him to? The important thing was that the band was livelier at UNO than on the DVD. Stipe was excited and anxious. He gave the crowd a lot more than he needed to. Not only was his voice in top form, but he joked with the audience and gave us cool anecdotes. Sorry I can't remember any of them. Something about his grandmother. That doesn't help.
Buck did his usual guitar kicks, but he stayed on his side of the stage the whole night. A highlight of the set was when Stipe hung over Mills' piano lounge singer-style as Mills played "Nightswimming." That was cool. If Mills left the band, they couldn't continue. His back-up vocals and musicianship are very important and underrated in press coverage of the band. Michael Stipe this, Michael Stipe that.
The band tried to play older material on their new tour that they hadn't played live in a while--"Finest Worksong," "So. Central Rain." They played "Country Feedback," as they always do, and it was beautiful. Just to be a part of crowd participation during "Man on the Moon" and "ITEOTWAWKI" was great. Huge positive energy in the room during those songs.
Setlist: Finest Worksong / So Fast, So Numb / The Wake Up Bomb / Drive / Animal / So. Central Rain / Bad Day / The One I Love / Tongue / The Great Beyond / Daysleeper / Fall On Me / Strange Currencies / Losing My Religion / At My Most Beautiful / She Just Wants To Be / Walk Unafraid / Man On The Moon
encore: Everybody Hurts / Nightswimming / Country Feedback / Imitation Of Life / It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)