First Night: Cultural icons no longer on the up
REM Earls Court London
Wednesday 23 June 1999
On last year's Up album, the band's remaining trio Stipe, Buck and Mills still scored a remarkable result. Pushing the envelope yet again, they dabbled with analogue drum machines and synthesisers to come up trumps. Live, however, REM's inter-band chemistry has always had a delicate balance, and this tour seemed set to test their mettle further.
Last night, the three were joined by multi-instrumentalists Scott McCaughey and Ken Stringfellow and Beck's drummer, Joey Waronker. Overcompensation for Berry, perhaps?
There's no denying that Michael Stipe is an odd character. He has charisma, integrity and one of the most instantly recognisable voices in popular music, but I found it harder to buy into his on-stage persona than almost everyone else at Earls Court. There was a point where Stipe started to tell a joke about an elephant and a mouse, then stopped abruptly. What's this guy on?
Fortunately, there's this other factor, these things called songs which REM excel in. Songs transcend pretension; they can transform three average Joes into cultural icons. Last night, all-American folk classics like "Losing My Religion" and "Sweetness Follows" provided reason enough to sing Stipe's praises, and even John Denver look-alike Mike Mills seemed cool when he was playing "Man On The Moon".
The REM legend is still potent enough for their audience to indulge them, but in places the balance between new and old material was a little delicate.
Of the new songs, "Daysleeper" and "At My Most Beautiful" stood out by a country mile, and the audience reacted accordingly. These are undoubtedly the tracks from Up which sound most like classic REM. Go figure.
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 4 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
- 5 Man hospitalised with pneumonia after downing eggnog at office Christmas party
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Alex Salmond has 'broken his word to the Scottish people' says Scottish Lib Dem leader
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...
£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...
Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...