Monday, October 19, 2009

R.E.M. Live At The Olympia

I've been spinning R.E.M.'s upcoming release, R.E.M. Live At The Olympia, for a little while now. In case you didn't know, the 2-disc, 39 song record, which was recorded in Dublin, is scheduled for release October 27. The special edition version of the release will contain a DVD film of concert and backstage footage from the Dublin shows.

So, I'm sitting here with my tie-dyed, peace sign painted mug in hand, sipping Orange Crush (unintentionally, but seriously), corny, I know, trying to figure out what to write. Really, what do you write about R.E.M. that hasn't already been written after so many years? We know I'm an R.E.M. fan. We've also touched on my geek girl love fest issues in a previous post. I wore out several of their cassettes back in the day. Oh yeah, I said cassettes! Am I showing my age? What do I say? They're good? Yep. They're good live? Yep.

Clocking in at just over two and a half hours, it took me a couple of days to listen to all 39 songs. Hey, that's a whole lotta Michael, Mike and Peter for a chick to listen to, not that I'm complaining! Rolling it out, my first thought was, this could be a bit daunting for the casual R.E.M. fan. But, I doubt this is intended for the casual fan. However, I'd suggest diving in head first and enjoying the swim.

The live tracks culled for this release are a nice representation of the band live. They have spark to them. I say this because there have been a few recordings in recent years that I felt lacked energy and fire. For a while it seemed like they were just going through the motions.

R.E.M. Live At The Olympia contains many old favorites ... they can never go wrong with those in my opinion. Two of my favorites find a place on this effort, "Driver 8" and "Gardening At Night." Even after all these years, it's great to hear those songs. Even better it's great to hear them played with the vigor I remember from my, ahem, younger days. Listening to the songs on this double disc opus, it sounds like they were having fun performing. This is a terrific thing. With so many live presentations, after the powers that be fiddle around making things all spit spot, everything sounds like it has been sucked dry of personality. Thankfully, R.E.M. has managed to avoid the vampire knob twiddlers allowing the fun, their personalities and their charm to shine through.

R.E.M. fans will no doubt find great joy in this effort. Casual listeners who appreciate good music played live will enjoy it too.

There are going to be limited sneak preview screenings of This Is Not A Show: Live at the Olympia in Dublin. These sneak previews are one night only in select cities. New York will have a chance to check out the approximately sixty minute un-concert documentary. It will be screened at Cinema Purgatorio at the Kraine Theatre down on East 4th Street, October 27.

Track Listing
Disc 1
  • Living Well Is The Best Revenge
  • Second Guessing
  • Letter Never Sent
  • Staring Down The Barrel Of The
  • Disturbance At The Heron House
  • Mr. Richards
  • Houston
  • New Test Leper
  • Cuyahoga
  • Electrolite
  • Man-Sized Wreath
  • So. Central Rain
  • On The Fly
  • Maps And Legends
  • Sitting Still
  • Driver 8
  • Horse To Water
  • I'm Gonna DJ
  • Circus Envy
  • These Days
Disc 2
  • Drive
  • Feeling Gravity's Pull
  • Until The Day Is Done
  • Accelerate
  • Auctioneer
  • Little America
  • 1,000,000
  • Disguised
  • The Worst Joke Ever
  • Welcome To The Occupation
  • Carnival Of Sorts (Boxcar)
  • Harborcoat
  • Wolves, Lower
  • I've Been High
  • Kohoutek
  • West Of The Fields
  • Pretty Persuasion
  • Romance
  • Gardening At Night