I had control, I lost my head

It was not hard to come to the conclusion on Saturday that there is really no such thing as a cool REM fan. I’m quite content to be listed with the morass at Twickenham who enjoyed a wonderful gig, who listened for two hours (and could have listened for two more) to a former Biggest Band In The World ™ work an entire stadium. I wasn’t as rabid as the ones I went with, but I’m a newish fan (as documented here) and the trip was worth my while.

It takes some skill to hold an entire stadium in the palm of your hand, but REM have it down to a fine art. It helps to have enough ace material to fill the two hours and still leave the audience chomping at the bit for an encore, but I guess I can’t really complain at what they left out when I hear ‘Perfect Circle’; or the epic ‘Fall On Me’; or ‘Wake Up Bomb’; or the surpassing beauty of ‘Country Feedback’. It’s really that song that will forever stay with me now – before, the redeeming feature of the less-than-perfect Out Of Time, now the grandiose yet intimate stadium-filling monster. Peter Buck won an onstage congratulation from Stipe for his swirling, delicate solo, and Stipe himself seemed to wring the original emotion of the song itself out of the audience.

There’s one low, bending guitar note in ‘Country Feedback’ that made the night, for me. It comes in just occasionally, often before the verses step up an imperceptible notch, or Stipe’s voice raises in intensity and pitch. It’s a bit hold-your-breath beautiful, if I’m honest, and you wouldn’t find many people that would give REM the time of day to appreciate that these days. Tis a shame.


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