Saturday, June 28, 2008
R.E.M. @ Atlanta
We arrive in plenty of time. Early enough that we managed to get a nap before heading to the show on Saturday. The hotel was 5 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes to the venue. Perfect.
We managed to get general admission Pit tickets at Lakewood, so we wanted to actually get there pretty early this time. Of the six shows I saw, this is the only one where we went inside for any of the opening acts. We caught the last half of The National's set. Now I kind of regret not going in to see them at previous shows. I forgot how good they can be. The pit was full of people, but not too crowded, if that makes sense. We just walked in and easily walked up to the rail, kind of far off to the right. As good as our position was, we decided that we couldn't bear to sit through Modest Mouse's set, so we bailed. Based on what we heard from the concourse, we made the right choice. But as soon as MM were finished, we bolted back to the pit. We ended up about 2/3 of the way back (still in the pit, so it was still really close) just in front of Peter. Probably the equivalent of 6th row seats.
Hopes are always high for Atlanta shows. It's their hometown gig (Athens isn't far away) and there's always excitement in the air. Unfortunately, nothing really special happened, but they still put on a hell of a show.
Highlights: "Time After Time", "So Fast, So Numb", "Harborcoat", "Pretty Persuasion" and the tour debut of "Nightswimming". "Nightswimming" was especially nice. Just Mike on piano with Michael leaning against it singing. "I've Been High" was also surprisingly good. Taken out of the context of Reveal, it's a beautiful song. They went all-out with everything else - not wanting to disappoint all of the friends and family in attendance. Definitely one of the better shows of the tour. No over-the-top surprises, but a totally solid set with a bunch of chestnuts thrown in.
It turns out they oversold the pit, or people just scammed their way down. It was way too crowded. Not long after the show started they stopped letting people in the pit. That didn't go over well with people that left to use the bathroom an couldn't get back to their seats. It was pretty packed in there, but it didn't really bother us all that much. We ended up jostled around until we were in the very back, but pretty much center stage. That was fine by us - both being pretty tall. I felt kind of bad for the shorter folks though.
Bill Berry could be seen in the wings, but there was no big reunion. Bummer. Also surprising was the lack of "Radio Free Europe". It's a rare one, to be sure, but it pops up once in a while. Considering how deep in the catalog they've been going on this tour, I thought for sure it would pop up in Atlanta. No such luck.
On the way back to the car i happened to run into the girls I was sitting next to at the Jones Beach show. We got to hang with them for a bit and compare notes on the other shows we'd seen in the last few weeks. That was kind of fun.
After the show I met up with a bunch of my fellow on-line R.E.M. freaks that I've been communicating with for the last 15 years or so. Thanks for pointing out to Dinger that I'm not alone out there. These folks had come from as far away as Chicago, California and even Ireland. They made DC seem almost local. See - I could be worse. Great folks. A pleasure to meet you all, finally.
A traditional late-night breakfast at the Waffle House (conveniently located on Bobby Brown Blvd.!) and an uneventful trip home on Sunday.
Rumor has it there will be another let to the US tour. My wallet won't allow me to go to these lengths again, but I'm sure I'll pop up at a few shows.
Here's the setlist that a friend got. Of the songs in blue, they only played "Pretty Persuasion" and "Nightswimming".
All photos by Dinger