M. Stipe and Company put on impressive display at the Amphitheatre last night

R.E.M. rock their way back into my heart


If you're passionate about music, as I am, you tend to view time spent listening to a band as a sort of bizarre relationship, whether it be a casual flirtation or a full blown romance. Just so long as it doesn't turn into a case of stalking, all is fair.

I've been following R.E.M. for over two decades now, since the night I stumbled upon their first appearance on Late Night with David Letterman (when they played "South Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" before it even had a name). From that day on, I was hooked, slavishly devoted to the Georgian quartet's effortless melodies and Peter Buck's chiming, Byrd-ish guitar textures.

Hipster dick that I admittedly am, my pseudo-relationship with R.E.M. cooled off after they got called up to the majors in the 90s. Sure, they still had their moments of brilliance, like "Losing My Religion," but those moments had to share disc space with ill-advised tracks like "Radio Song" (and I like KRS-One), so I focused my attention elsewhere for a while.

Lately, R.E.M. and I have been crossing paths more often than usual, all starting with their recent appearance on my new favourite late night show, The Colbert Report. They're still on a major label, but for some reason they sound really good to my ears again. Maybe I've grown over the years (hopefully I'm also less of a dick).

Last night at the Toronto's Molson Amphitheatre, R.E.M. put on one impressive show to say the least. The newer stuff, most of which I'm not very familiar with, sounded fresh, and the older gems fit like a long lost glove. Michael Stipe, who would barely look at the camera back in the 80s has turned into one hell of a showman (his robo-dance in the middle of "Horse to Water" was definitely a treat).

I think I'll go dig out some of their old records now, get re-acquainted with their charms. I'm a born-again fan.

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So what's your relationship with R.E.M. been like over the years? If you saw the show last night, what were your favourite moments?

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Photo by Steve Chatterton


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