ROIO of the Week [Recordings of Indeterminate Origin]
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Michael Stipe (left) with Bruce Springsteen and Connor Oberst at the Vote For
Change Tour 2004.


R.E.M.

Ahoy, Rotterdam 2005

October 2 was a special night. Not because R.E.M. were playing with Bruce Springsteen on the Vote For Change tour but because it was the anniversary date of Mahatma Gandhi's birthday. The band was on stage in Cleveland last October opening for Springsteen. Michael Stipe was five songs into the set when he stopped the music to speak to the audience.

"I'm really bad with dates, but she's really, really good with them," Stipe was referring to his friend Patti Smith who'd called Michael before the show. "She wanted me to remind everyone that today was Gandhi's birthday." Then the band storm into Final Straw, the song they gave away as a free MP3 download at the height of the 2nd US invasion of Iraq. The song's link to Patti Smith, as Stipe acknowledges on stage, was that she gave them the title. Since then and every night on the Around The Sun tour, R.E.M. have marked their show with Final Straw, to make a stand on something they believe in. Stipe introduces Final Straw and I Wanted To Be Wrong as their "state of the union address".

R.E.M. are hardly a political band like Rage Against The Machine or Pearl Jam, but Stipe and co really want to say something with Final Straw.

If hatred makes a play on me tomorrow
And forgiveness takes a back seat to revenge
There's a hurt down deep that has not been corrected.
There's a voice in me that says you will not win.

And if I ignore the voice inside,
Raise a half glass to my home.
But it's there that I am most afraid,
And forgetting doesn't hold. It doesn't hold.*

That commitment seems to have fired up their fans as well. On their current European leg of the world tour, hours after the first shows were over, recordings appeared on the net as free downloads in lossless formats complete with artwork using photos shot at the concerts. Who'd have thought R.E.M. had such rabid fans? And so willing to share.

These recordings done on either portable DAT or minidisc recorders document Michael Stipe and Co's new forcefulness. Since the big breakthrough of Out Of Time, R.E.M. have been standing still creatively. But on this tour, the songs from the new album are rapidly introduced in the first half of the show and they don't drag. The setlist includes many of their memorable radio songs like The One I Love, Orange Crush, Losing My Religion and their current encore Man On The Moon giving a convincing overview of a great band with an excellent repertoire.

R.E.M. shows currently available for download on the net include Jan 15, 2005 in Milan, Italy, Jan 17 in Ljubljana, Slovenia and Jan 19 in Zagreb, Croatia.

The band will head to Asia for the next leg of its World Tour and confirmed dates include

Mar 16 at the Budokan in Tokyo, Japan,
Mar 17 in Nagoya,
Mar 18 in Osaka and
Mar 20 at the Convention & Exhibition Hall in Hongkong.
Later the band head down to New Zealand and Australia.

For a comprehensive coverage of what shows are available to listen to, cover artwork and dates and venues of the Around The Sun tour, go to http://www.remcoverstudio.com/

This show at the Ahoy in Rotterdam, The Netherlands was held on Feb 3 2005. The recording was made by TheDutchTaper using Sennheiser mics with a Sony TCD-D100 portable DAT deck. There's excellent ambiance and good, clear stereo separation.

Songs from Around The Sun performed were Boy In The Well, High Speed Train, The Outsiders, Leaving New York, Electron Blue, I Wanted To Be Wrong, Final Straw and Aftermath.
- The Little Chicken

*"Final Straw"

[R.E.M. released Final Straw as a free MP3 download on March 25, 2003 and said in the press release: "We had to send something out there now. We are praying and hoping for the lives of all people involved, the troops, the Iraqi civilians, refugees, POWs, families of troops, the innocents, that they are safe and okay. Safe home, all."]

Click here for the complete lyrics to Final Straw and to download 12 MP3s from the Rotterdam show.

Click here for pictures of R.E.M. on the Vote For Change Tour 2004.


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