The night started out with my wife & I arriving about 1/3 of the way through the set for opening band Wilco (who were very good by the way). Knowing that we had good seats - about 10th row, right side - had me eager to get to our seats to check out the view, even before I went to get a beer. Upon arriving in our seats, I settled back to listen for a moment before I noticed who the guy sitting next to me was --- IT WAS MIKE MILLS! Unbelievable! He was checking out Wilco and having a pre-show cocktail. At about the 2/3 mark of the Wilco set, he had to leave to prepare for their set and I quickly wished him well for the evening's show and he replied with a quick "Thank You, Dude". I knew at that point that it was going to be a good evening. I was right. Very shortly, there was a beer in hand.
As the set list for this show is already posted, I'll not restate. I thought the set list was pretty solid. High-octane versions of The Apologist & Walk Unafraid were much more lively than the album versions. Classics like Finest Worksong & Fall on Me were personal favorites and the new song "The Great Beyond" was great. Overall, a very fine performance.
Michael told a few stories during the show. One of the more amusing moments came when he talked of a leather bracelet that he had with a star embossed into it. He said it was his sister's when they were kids and that he had always wanted it & then he found it about 2 yrs. ago in his parent's house & asked his sister if he could have it. She said OK and now he had it. At this point an audience member held out their hand and Michael looked at them aghast and said "Are you fuckin' crazy? I've coveted this since 1972 and you think I'm going to give it to a total stranger." He laughed and placed it on the drumstand so he could pick it up after the show.
As partially documented by our local newspaper, when Michael came out for the encore with an acoustic, he said he always wanted to be the star in a TV movie about Elvis, but that he could never have done it because of his acne. He then said that one difference between him & Elvis was that Elvis could play the guitar and he couldn't, but that it didn't matter because it was all about the spirit and energy. He began to play Hope, but stopped in the first verse to explain that a portion of the lyric was inspired by Patti Smith, whose "Birdland" record he had first purchased when living in nearby Collinsville, IL, and that he was dedicating this song to her. He then started from the beginning again and did a satisfactory job of hitting the right chords. The encore continued with a Mills & Stipe only version of Why Not Smile. They added another 3 songs before it all ended with an extended version of End of the World, which sent the crowd home happy.
From my vantage point you could easily see the passion that was going into this performance and everyone (the fans & the band) seemed to having a great time, including me. This was my 9th time seeing R.E.M. live. I'm already looking forward to reaching double-digits.
Back to the 1999 concert setlists