Thursday, July 14, 2005

Don't Go Back to Athens

Crikey, I can't believe it's been over a week since I last mused on my inconsequential existance here. The truth is that so much has happened over the past week,I haven't had the time to update this site. As a result, things are gonna get a bit sketchy, as I'll have to cover things that happened after others as it'll take any age for me to manipulate all the photographs regarding my trip to Brighton. Consequently, we'll have to rewind to Sunday, instead of Saturday, and tackle the appearance of R.E.M. at the Millenium Stadium instead.

I always thought Sunday was gonna be a good day. After all, its not every day you get to see your favourite band play live, and it's always extra-special when its your first time, if you pardon the expression. Anyways, I was a little surprised to be awaken by my friends at 0930 in the morning. However, it's a marked improvement on the time achieved by Savage, when he appeared on my doorstep at 0805 a couple of weeks ago. I think its something to do with the air in Devon, making people get up early. Either that or they're really eager to get out of Devon (or perhaps that should be see Yours Truly?). Now, its never a sensible idea to have ice cream for breakfast because, although thoroughly pleasant, it isn't really that substantial. Couple that with the fact that it freezes your brain easily, and it became evident I was going to be rather silly for a couple of hours, as proven by the little aside into why the ice cream company parted company with Mr. Whippy as a mascot. It was, for those interested, for thoroughly sinister reasons...

After an interesting experience in a Toby Carvery, reading Nietszche whilst drinking cider in a Welsh pub overlooking a Safeway, I eventually found myself heading towards the beginning of the concert and inside the Millenium Stadium. Unfortuantely, I couldn't resist telling people that this was where Dalek was filmed, and I secretly harboured desires to start running around shouting 'Exterminate' at people. I'm such a child. Eventually things got down to business as, after enduring one support act that consisted of a guy and an acoustic guitar (not that impressive and a bit depressing in all honesty), iDLEWiLD finally made their way on to the stage. Now, I was a little disappointed about this since I thought they'd be on just before R.E.M., but in hindsight I was glad they weren't. The problem was that they just looked bloody nervous, especially Roddy. Now I know Roddy is one of the shy, retiring, poetic types, but where was the guy who threw himself around Cardiff Uni Great Hall eighteen months ago? Aside from that, they were bloody good, playing an almost 'Greatest Hits' set with Little Discourage and American English obvious highlights and a welcome cover of Sweet Home Alabama featuring Mike Mills on keyboards.

By the time Messers Stipe and Company appeared on stage, I was getting even more jumpy than usual. Granted, I'd already managed to scare certain members of the party with my over-enthusiastic enjoyment of iDLEWiLD, so it was with great vigour that I jumped to my feet during the first few chords of Bad Day. This joy was only scuppered when told to 'Sit down' by the old couple behind me as they couldn't see. OK, they probably hadn't paid £40 a ticket to watch my Tom Baker wig jig up and down for two hours, but neither had I paid £40 to sit and clap politely at the Greatest Band in the World. After all, R.E.M are a rock band, playing a rock concert, so isn't it just right to want to rock? Its almost there in the title of the event, isn't it?

An obvious highlight was the fact they played Strange Currencies, my absolute fave track that they'd only played once throughout the whole tour, and couple that with an extra poignant Everybody Hurts in light of the London attacks and a beautifully intimate Nightswimming and you had a supreme gig all round. It's been previously identified by journalists that one of the great things about R.E.M., and Michael especially, is their ability to be both ballsy and vulnerable at the same time, and this was apitomised in Stipe's energetic performance, causing the stripe of make-up across his eyes to crack and run across his face. OK, if appearing in a Welsh rugby shirt and celebrating Brains SA was playing to certain members of the crowd ever-so-slightly, it only goes to show how good the band really are: willing to push the right buttons to acknowledge little cultural differences. So whilst Michael played the rock-star, his voice showed why I view him as the best singer around, largely due to the fact he doesn't just sing tracks like they are on the record. Instead, his voice seems to be capable of ascending to new levels in the live performance that only add to the emotion of the songs. Back this up with Buck and Mills' wonderful backing and you had something bordering on the sublime. The set list in full was:

Bad Day
What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
The One I Love
The Outsiders
Strange Currencies
So Fast, So Numb
Leaving New York
Everbody Hurts
Electron Blue
(Unknown Track)
Final Straw
Orange Crush
Walk Unafraid
Losing My Religion

Immitation of Life
The Great Beyond
Exhuming McCarthy
Man On the Moon

Right, just gotta find a minidisc to recreate the live experience!

No comments: