Friday, June 13, 2008
R.E.M. in Raleigh
Things weren't much better overnight. No sleep. Sick. Weak. By morning I could barely cross the room without needing to rest. I didn't feel quite as sick, but I felt really, really weak and tired. Making it worse, I was supposed to drive down to Raleigh that morning to go see R.E.M. It was becoming painfully obvious that I wasn't going to be able to drive myself down there.
Dinger was having none of that. There was no way he was going to let me miss the return of R.E.M. Partly because he knew how much it meant to me, and partly because he knows that I'd be impossible to live with if I missed it. I can be a real bitch sometimes. Anyway, Dinger - my hero - volunteered to drive me down to Raleigh for the show. What a guy. I slept on and off for most of the drive. I gradually started feeling better. By the time we got to NC I was able to eat (for the first time in about 24-hours). By the time we got to the hotel I was actualy feeling pretty decent. Now...On to the show.
We made it a point to get there late. It was even hotter in Raleigh than DC. At one point the thermometer in my car said it was 108-degrees. I don't think that was quite right, but it was definitely about 100. I didn't want to relapse because I'm sitting in the heat watching the openers, so we got there about halfway into Modest Mouse's set. By now I'm about 70% back to normal.
Who knew that Row F was the second row? And the first row consisted of exactly 4 folding chairs, 2 of which were never occupied, so I had a completely unobstructed view, just to the left of Mike Mills. Excellent! We managed to find Dinger a seat in the same section - about 15 rows back. Not bad at all.
R.E.M. walked on stage and in less than 10 seconds they were cranking out "Harborcoat". Holy freaking crap. I haven't seen them play this since 1986. I suddenly forgot all about being sick. They followed up with a few of the regular workhorses from this tour - which all sounded great. Then Stipe says "Hey you people on the lawn - check this shit out!" and then they bust into "1,000,000". Are you kidding me? I think my head was ready to explode. I won't go track-by-track, but they just never let up all night. They played at least one song from every album - From Chronic Town through Accelerate. The new stuff is fast, hard and tight. None of that "oh-it's a new song - let's make a beer run" stuff. The new songs rock and they rock hard. As if that wasn't enough, the encore included "Pretty Persuasion", quite possibly the song that turned me into an R.E.M. freak back in 1984. Stipe introduced it by saying it's "about growing up queer in the south." You go, Michael! Want more? How about Johnny Marr coming out and sitting in on "Fall On Me"? How freaking cool is that? Then Stipe introduces 2 dudes to sit-in for the next song, which he dedicated to his sister. The song? "Sitting Still" - one of the 2 oldest songs R.E.M. ever recorded. The 2 dudes? F--king Mitch Easter and Don Dixon. The two guys primarily responsible for R.E.M.'s early sound. It doesn't quite rank up there with Bill Berry sitting in the last time I saw them here, but it's pretty damn close.
An amazing show, to be sure. Thank God for Dinger, who got me down there when I really felt miserable. He's right - I would have been a disaster to live with, if I had missed this one. To top it off, he drove us home the next day, too. What a guy.