Stipey and co with their first live document. Lighter-wavingly good...
Sonja D'Cruze 2007
Capturing the multiple Grammy-winning R.E.M. onstage for the first time in their 27 year career, R.E.M. Live, is a 22-track audio and visual package documenting singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, and bassist Mike Mills doing what they do best at a dynamic show at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, on February 27, 2005. It does what it says on the tin.
The DVD opens with glimpses of Michael Stipe making himself up with black paint in the dressing room, a heart beat thuds in the background, a hand held camera building the tension before R.E.M. stampede the stage to raptuous applause. It's two songs in ("I Took Your Name"/ "So Fast So Numb") before Stipe realises he doesn't have to shout the lyrics just to remind you it's live and the same goes for acclaimed director Blue Leach (Depeche Mode, Snow Patrol) who throws in just about every kind of camera trick tomfoolery within the opening minutes. But it soon becomes clear that Leach's deft camera work and artistic lense work is what makes the impression and brings the songs to life as he skillfully crafts his signature techniques to capture R.E.M. as master of ceremonies.
R.E.M. Live is a veritable smorgasbord of the big hitters from the band’s studio albums, including "(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville", (featuring bassist Mike Mills on lead vocal) , "The One I Love", "Orange Crush", "Losing My Religion" , "Everybody Hurts" and "Man On The Moon" . Added to these greatest hits is a rare performance of "Ascent Of Man" from the band's last studio album, Around the Sun.
"The Great Beyond" still stands tall with its emotively executed strings as is the perfect "Leaving New York". "Drive" casts a haunting darkness over the baying crowd, while the swaying lighters come out on "Everybody Hurts" which transforms Stipe to messiah status as, hands raised, an awesome scene unfolds amongst the masses when Stipe sings: 'Everybody hurts/ Take comfort in your friends'.
Of course there's something about live albums that's such a tease: You just can't capture that rush of adrenalin when - your ticket in hand, a beer in the other - you walk into the room to see a million faces dribbling with glee at watching their idol on stage. But for R.E.M. fans, this may just be the best consolation going.