R.E.M - Comcast Center June 13, 2008 *updated*
Comcast Center, Mansfield, MA
Friday, June 13, 2008
Support - The National and Modest Mouse
It has been a lot of years. Some might say "Why did you even bother?". Holding on to my, and their past. There was, perhaps no way, in many peoples eyes to be a fan of R.E.M these days, but still I had my ticket and I was going.
Being a music geek I am a member of a few bands "Fan clubs". I know, what am I 12? Well I will have you know that before this internet thing came along bands used to put mailing information inside their cds. Well if you took some time to just write a quick note 10 times out of 10 you got something cool in the mail. It was everything from stickers to pins to 7 inch records. To cut to the chase, I have been in the R.E.M fanclub for at least 10 years if not more. As of late, fan club gives you early access and "prefered" seating to shows.
Well, that early access put me 10 rows back Friday night..about 1 seat off "dead center" to boot.
The tickets were not cheap but I got in to buying two, something I hardly EVER do if I can help it. I asked around some and most folks seemed to be a little put off on the price, which is fine. I have been an avid reader of a boston music blogger, Brad, who runs bradleysalmanac (bookmark it..trust me). Brad, a few weeks ago was bit by the nostalgia bug when he went to see the Cure. Check out his review and mp3's from the entire show here. So I asked Brad and well, Brad after taking a walk down memory lane with the Cure emailed back and said "what the heck, I'll go".
Walking in to the venue about 6:20 and making my way to the seats I came upon Brad who was getting ready for the National to take the stage. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Brad, like me, tapes most of what he sees. Before we knew it, the National was taking the stage and it was time to "shhhhhh"
The National took the stage just about 630pm. Even with the stage pushed forward (due to the backline of gear) the band spread out nice and the stage was really quite full. They had a horn section (well 2 horns and a bassoon) drummer, guitar players etc. The few that got that early enough to see them were really treated to a great set of music. I personally am not familiar with their music, but it struck enough of a chord with me personally to go and check their studio stuff out. The band played for about 45 minutes (until 7:15) and the audience slowly filtered in and by the end the cheers were very strong.
Setlist for the National (thanks to the msgboard posters)
Start a War
Baby, We'll Be Fine
Mistaken for Strangers
Racing Like a Pro
The stage rolled over quickly and Brad and I chatted about the National. He had seen them a few times and commented on how great they sounded tonight. After a few moments we both sort of confessed that, on this very day, we suddenly realized that Johnny Marr (famous for his guitar work in The Smiths ) was in Modest Mouse.
Time did seem to pass quickly and about 7:40pm Modest Mouse took the stage.
Personally I have the last two Modest Mouse records and they are "okay". I haven't spent a lot of time with them in a bit really. The set was tight as a drum though. Leader Isaac Brock sang as if his life depended on it. Often slamming his guitar in to his hips as he screamed his lyrics. The stage was FULL of gear and two drummers were flanked up above the rest of the members. I am not full on sure of the set list, but I can tell you this, the did ignore both "Oceans Breathe Salty" and "Float On".
As their set concluded just about 8:30 and the lights came up, they left a better taste in my mouth honestly. I'll have to give the last two records another spin. Again, at the end Brad and I had a quick chat about our thoughts. He was impressed, said they did a lot to win him back, and during the set he got a call from a buddy back home, who was a HUGE Smiths fan (might still be). Brad said "I had to text him a cryptic message like I am now 10 rows away from Johnny Marr" and he left it at that.
Modest Mouse set list:
1. Intro Noise
2. Satin in a Coffin
3. Teeth Like God's Shoeshine
5. Here it Comes
6. King Rat
7. Tiny Cities Made of Ashes
8. Paper Thin Walls
10. The Good Times are Killing Me
11. Doin' the Cockroach
12. Spitting Venom
Just about 9:00pm it was time for R.E.M. The stage was wide open with Mike Mills to my left, Michael Stipe in the center, Peter Buck off to the right with multi-instrumentalist Scott McCaughey even further over to the right. Drummer Bill Rieflin was on a riser in the center of the stage.
The band walked to the stage, gave a quick wave and hello before kicking off the 28 song set with "Living Well is the Best Revenge" the lead off track from their latest studio effort Accelerate. The band was in fine form all evening. The smiles alone showed the band has sort of a new lease on life in a live setting. The last few records have been sort of slower, plodding affairs, while this is a return to the "early" sound of R.E.M.
Rather than going song by song I'll point out some key/cool moments. (full set is at the end after pictures).
Leaving no question who the band supports in the upcoming US Presidentail election Michael introduced "Cuyahoga" saying that the first lines of the song really mean a lot this coming election, they are "Let’s put our heads together and start a new country up..." "Driver 8" was a a quick and dirty version. "Maps and Legends" was dug out of the archives and the few that knew it were treated to a real rare ditty. "The One I Love" still shines in a live setting with both Mills and Stipe sounding in fantastic form. They really play well off one another.
"Let Me In" had a wonderful moment in which all the members huddled to one side of the stage in a circle. Michael had his back to the audience and they did pretty much spine tingling version. The light piano and the acoustic guitars really rang out. They got right back to the hard/quicker songs with "Bad Day" in which Michael tossed his harmonica to the audience when he was done, that lead in to a double whammy from the Green album "Get Up->Orange Crush". The main set ended with "I'm Gonna DJ". The song is okay, but fell sort of flat after "Crush".
The band left the stage for a few moments and came out for the encore. For this it started off with the first single from the new cd "Supernatural Superserious" which really is a strong song live. The "staple" song of the evening came with "Losing My Religion", and really the audience didn't seem to mind.
In a very humbling moment Mike Mills took center stage and before he began "Don’t Go Back To) Rockville", he expressed apologies for being in poor voice. The reason, he said, was the night before he went to see Mission of Burma perform, and he screamed along like a wild man. He didn't seem to waiver (at least to these ears) and the song always brings a smile to my face.
The show was drawing to a close, and a "not so longer surprising" moment occurs when Johnny Marr returns to the stage for "Fall on Me". At the conclusion of the song Michael again thanked us for coming and said "We have one more".
A rain of boo's follows....
"Okay, how about 2 more?"
The audience warms up to that idea and the band quickly huddles. We have no idea what they are about to play, but Peter Buck is giving Marr the quick low down on the chords and what have you. Michael introduces "Pretty Persuasion" and off they go. Buck and Marr exchange a few nods, and gestures for the first verse, but it all comes together fine.
The show ends with "Man on the Moon" as it has for the last few tours it seems. It may have seen better days but still, the audience ate it up. Mind you, I didn't feel cheated with the song.
Overall I have to say I was impressed. In reading some of the set lists we got a few real gems and rare tracks. The band even said a few songs they had hardly rehearsed, let alone played live in a while. With a catalog as vast as theirs it should be commonplace for this to occur so I was glad to see an "on" night.
The band was all smiles and Stipe spoke "a lot" to the audience, but he is such a fun guy to listen to you don't get too upset when he does talk. He doesn't preach, he sort of tells a quick story and off they go. He even asked at one point if he was talking too much and, again, the audience didn't really give him a clear cut yes or no.
Tickets might not have been cheap, but they still bring it in a live setting. Never mind the fact I was so close.
Here are a few shots from the show, mind you my camera is not the best.
Peter Buck and Johnny Marr
The 3 core members say thank you and goodnight...
The complete REM set list was as follows:
1. Living Well Is the Best Revenge
2. Begin The Begin
3. What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
4. Circus Envy
5. Man-Sized Wreath
6. West Of The Fields
10. Hollow Man
11. Driver 8
14. Maps And Legends
15. Horse to Water
16. The One I Love
17. I’ve Been High
18. Let Me In
19. Bad Day
20. Get Up
21. Orange Crush
22. I'm Gonna DJ
23. Supernatural Superserious
24. Losing My Religion
25. (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (Mike Mills on lead vocals)
26. Fall On Me (w/Johnny Marr)
27. Pretty Persuasion (extra encore w/J.Marr)
28. Man On The Moon (w/J.Marr)
Here is an mp3 of my recording of Man on the Moon
Check out Brads photos on flickr here. he took a lot.
I hope to have a sample up from my recording in a day or so more. Keep your eye on bradleysalmanac for The National set, perhaps the Modest Mouse (I ran tape as well). There will be a joined effort to get R.E.M out as well as Brad headed for the gate at the start of Man on the Moon.