Wednesday, after Gorilla vs. Booze, like every night during SXSW, there were choices to be made on where to go and who to see. Actually, I should say there were choices to be made by other folks, because, honestly, as a longtime R.E.M. fan, there was only one place I wanted to be, and that was at Stubb’s backyard, on Red River, for the band’s sole SXSW performance (excluding their Austin City Limits taping). For a myriad of reasons I had not seen the band, live, since 1995’s Monster tour. Other than looking forward to checking out the material off band’s upcoming LP, Accelerate, I was as, or even more, excited just to see how they stood up, as a live act, after my own thirteen year gap.
We walked in Stubb’s just as Papercranes were finishing up, and Athens GA’s Dead Confederate were beginning their set. When R.E.M. took the stage (as a five piece flanked by guitarist Scott McCaughey) it was immediate that Stipe had lost none of his zeal – a born front-man. Some highlights below:
- The band previewing nearly every track off the upcoming Accelerate LP beginnig with “Living Well Is The Best Revenge” and “Man Sized Wreath”.
- Seeing the band perform “Fall On Me.”
- Stipe addressing the audience at the beginning of the set: “Children of SXSW, come to me…”
- Dedicating the new track (off Accelerate) “Until The Day Is Done” to the late Heath Ledger, noting “This is dedicated to Heath Ledger, who loved this song.” Stipe ending the song by exclaiming “Goodbye Heath, we love you.”
- Stipe leading the band through a (self-proclaimed) unrehearsed version of “The Great Beyond.”
Sidenotes: Not surprisingly, while milling about waiting for the main event, I noticed R.E.M.’s show proved to have the highest rock star to SXSW attendee ratio of the week. It’s not everyday Perry Ferrell is in front of you waiting in the beer line. Top photo credit: Frank Yang
Elsewhere: NPR reviews R.E.M.’s SXSW performance, and has their live set streaming in its entirety.
Download: R.E.M. :: Live @ Stubbs (via Deaf Indie Elephants)