in a word. amazing. it was one of the most memorable nights of my life. arriving there at about 7.45, Teenage Fanclub had already started playing. they were really not very good, so i made my way through the masses of people, and ended up right in the middle, which wasnt that bad, i could see alright, although there were a lot of tall people in front of me.
by the end of Teenage Fanclub's set, people were starting to cheer them to get off, which was a bit of a shame for them, but they were really crap. it seemed they were having some technical problems, and by 9.00pm the crowd were starting to get restless. i could see the band wandering about backstage, waiting to go on.
at 9.05pm the lights dimmed, and the crowd emitted the loudest cheer i have ever heard in my life. and to the sounds of Airportman, R.E.M. casually sauntered on as if nothing special was happening. they kicked right into 'Lotus', which sonded amazing, and then into 'WTF,K?' , one of the best songs of the night. this was obviously a favourite of the crowd, as everyone immediately started cheering and jumping around, the same thing happening for 'losing my religion', 'the apologist', and 'the one i love'. 'everybody hurts' and 'country feedback' were both moving and encredibly beautiful. (country feedback being my fave REM song ever, this was a personal highlight)
there were quite a lot of amusing interruptions by michael. to name a few:
his shirt: 'sorry, i dont know what is wrong with this shirt. i just got it back from the dry-cleaners, and they've fucked it up. so we're gonna sue the pants off them. (big laugh) no, we're not really. just gonna wear it like it is. thats how it goes,right? -- this referring to his bright pink shirt, which i gather has been well worn throughout the tour.--''ok, this is a song''. (like we didnt know that)
someone threw tea bags onto the stage: what the hell is this? you're supposd to throw rose petals at my feet. is it darjeeling? what it is, scottish blend?(big audience cheer) thanks, i'll have to try that later, i'll treasure it forever.
the weather: jesus, it is so cold here. i'm freezing my ass off. what is with your weather? you guys really need to get it sorted out. this is supposed to be summer. i'm freezing! ok, here's a song that might warm you up. (somehow he didnt realise that when you're stuck in the middle of a jumping throng, its kinda warm.)
he later decided that he was still really cold, and ended up singing 'man on the moon' with a scottish flag wrapped around him, after demanding it from an audience member. 'at my most beautiful' was, well, just like the title, at its most beautiful. it sounded better than on the record, and the record version is great. it was really moving. 'walk unafraid' was another crown pleaser, and my fave (along with AMMB) off the new record. it was really fast, really great, and michael was having a lot of fun.
hope was really cool, with michael on his own on guitar. he couldnt really play it very well. after a few false starts, he got going. then: 'you want to bridge the schism, a built in mechanism to protect you'......(pause) 'you want to bridge the schism, a built in mechanism to protect you' and proceded to play this line over and over, about 6 times. ' well, erm....thats my favourite line!' he is the only musician i have ever seen get applauded for messing up. then mike came out for 'why not smile', which was beautiful.
then, just like that, it was over. 'The end of the world' couldnt have been played at any other time. it was the best song of the whole night, and i think most of the audience there would agree. everyone just went crazy, jumping up and down and singing along as best they could.(i.e. Leonard Bernstien and 'RIGHT!!) the band were obviously enjoying it too, and it saw michael jumping around everywhere, his battered mic stand having a rough time. and as the rain started down on us for the first time that night, we all knew, we felt fine.
brilliant day, brilliant show, brilliant band. thank you rem.
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