R.E.M. at the Olympia Theatre, Dublin – July 5th, 2007

“Celebration of your teenage nation.”

Thanks, Remdublin!

It’s hardly news (well, to obsessives), but the band’s stand in Dublin’s tiny Olympia Theatre has been marked by a profound “return to roots” aesthetic. The songs are much more straight-forward rock numbers, and the electronics found on the previous three albums are absent. One can only hope that the band will keep this focused, stripped-down approach when they return to finish the record, as this material is some of the most profoundly interesting – and energetic – of the band’s past decade.

On July 5th, I got to see the final “live rehearsal” with my friend Charles. What follows is a blow-by-blow record of the evening that features both R.E.M. and the opener – Mundy. I hope you’ll find it interesting, and that it will help to hold together the thin fabric that is memory. Please forgive any mistakes, as this review is largely the product of sleeplessness, air travel (and copious air delays), and a horrible, horrible day of missed appointments, missing documents, and travel complications. I would, of course, love to hear from anyone with a recording, or a clearer memory. Thank you!

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R.E.M., “Wendell Gee”

There wasn’t even time to say
Goodbye to Wendell Gee
So Whistle as the wind blows…
Whistle as the wind blows…
With me.

Closing R.E.M.’s “Fables of the Reconstruction” album, “Wendell Gee” is one of those perfect examples of what Michael Stipe and Co. do so very well – that is, reify the mundane into these revelatory narratives that pull meaning from your subconscious mind. (Sounds simple, right?) Last night, I had a series of nightmares. Only, I wasn’t quite asleep. The crux of it is that when I think about everything that’s happened with my dad, and how I lost him, I feel horribly derelict for not being there for him in his final moments. “After everything he gave me in life,” I think, “how could I not have given him the comfort of knowing he wasn’t alone?” And, of course, I had no idea. It was a perfectly normal day – a little rainy, a little cold – but nothing terrifying. Typical November in New England, and, as such, I was typically lost in my little life.

Still, it’s irrational to the extreme, but it feels like a complete shirking of the single-most important thing I could have ever done for my dad.

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R.E.M., “Sweetness Follows”

It’s these little things, they can pull you under
Live your life filled with joy and thunder
Yeah, yeah we were… altogether…
Lost in our little lives.

 

 

I bought my very first copy of “Automatic for the People” at Faneuil Hall in Boston, on the day it came out. My uncle Troy decided to take me into Boston for the day, and I was very pleased to be going to Faneuil Hall. I had made one previous trip there that resulted in a positively delicious hamburger from Frog Lane – a below-ground restaurant that charmed me with its novelty. (I was thirteen. Leave me be, thank you.) Come to think of it, I believe that I had gone there with my uncle Michael who, if memory serves, was likely trying to impress his new girlfriend with his child-handling skills. (He’ll return later, in another entry.) Either way, the burger was pretty tasty. This is, of course, neither here nor there. The best trip, by far, was this one with Troy. Continue reading