The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


REM live album coverA review of the album 'Live' by R.E.M.

Review Snapshot: I’ve never been a R.E.M. fan, and, after listening to this I don’t think anything is going to change. It’s a solid performance for the fans, and a lively best-of for the Christmas stocking and that, I’m afraid, is about it.

The Cluas Verdict? 5.5 out of 10

Full Review:
R.E.M. and I don’t really have a history. A long time ago, back when I was young and impressionable, and hormones were doing crazy things to my face, “Everybody Hurts” seemed to be a beautiful tune. But that was a long time ago and, like I said, strange things were happening.

I am not really a fan of live albums - Dylan and The Band being obvious exceptions - I usually prefer to watch the show. R.E.M. have their merits, though creativity and an infectious live pulse are hardly two of them, and so the prospect of a live album of theirs (and a double CD at that) didn’t really instil a sense of anticipation. It was with some weariness and a sense of purgatory that I loaded up the CD player, hit play, and headed off on the two hour trip to Dublin. 

“I Took Your Name” opens the set and, to be honest, it set me back a little. There was a growl, a touch of attitude, perhaps even a trace of charisma, in Michael Stipe’s voice. Had I been wrong, had REM been rediscovering themselves in my absence? Well, no. This is the sound of a working band, one who have found a formula and stuck to it. Religiously.

That’s not to say the band aren’t good, or on form, the songs are tight and well performed, and the emotion of what was clearly a good performance (by R.E.M. standards…), really carries through the set. If you like R.E.M., and are looking for a live album, then look no further. If you’re looking for the sound of a band in their stride, at the gig of a life time, then get The Last Waltz, because quite honestly Michael Stipe is drier than a dehydrated shite. “This is a song from Ohio,” “This is a song from New Jersey,” “This is a song from the beautiful state of…” yeah, yeah, yeah

R.E.M. Live has all the hits, it even has a guest appearance from those other stalwarts of excitement, The Thrills, and if that’s your thing, then this is your CD. If you’re looking for something else, something decent, something invigorating, fresh or challenging, well, keep on looking.

Dinner party comfort music… no wonder the middle classes are getting hooked on cocaine.

Daragh Murray

 To buy a new or (very reasonably priced) 2nd hand copy of this album on Amazon just click here.

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