10.05.2003 R.E.M. Tweeter Center, Mansfield, MA
10.05.2003 R.E.M. Tweeter Center, Mansfield, MA
I will note for the record that this weekend was originally planned for three R.E.M. concerts and I backed out to attend Mixfest. I lost a few dollars on the deal because I sold the tickets for face minus the service fees, but it was the right decision. As it turns out, I would probably have enjoyed the third show (which actually would have been the first, on Friday) but it was outdoors on the water somewhere in the state of New York, colder than crap that night and I looked at the setlist for that night, and yeah, I didn’t miss anything. Tweeter Center, formerly Great Woods as Michael pointed out, is an outdoor venue with a great view from every seat, as long as it’s not lawn. Having previously seen John Mayer / Counting Crows there, I knew what to expect. There are sixteen parking lots at the venue and one exit. If you are unlucky enough to end up parking towards the front of the venue, you then face a two plus hour wait to get out of your parking space, inching along make-shift lanes towards the exit and then waiting in long lines of similarly stuck patrons until you can all turn left because everyone is going to the highway.
The trick is to skip the opening act, thereby parking far from your seat but the equivalently close to the exit for a speedy (30 mins) getaway. I don’t remember and possibly never knew who was the opener that night. We hit our seats approximately four minutes before R.E.M.’s entrance.
Their set was more enjoyable overall tonight and I will attribute it to the fact that Michael Stipe didn’t spend as much time talking between each song. They varied the set enough that I got to hear some keepers, “Orange Crush” being principle among them. I really like “Life and How to Live It” as a live song, but I just can’t listen to the studio version. They stuck in “Permanent Vacation” an unreleased ditty from the 80′s so I hear and it worked.
Same glitter and glam. Same story about “Imitation of Life” being their first #1 in Japan. Same Mike Mills on lead vocals for “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” and I am sold. I waited 27 years to see R.E.M. live and that, my friends, is tragic. Bottom line: R.E.M. songs that suck on the albums rock out as live tracks. See “Electrolite” “She Just Wants To Be” and “The One I Love.” A friend of mine will kill me for saying that “Electrolite” is a shitty song, but it’s at the end of New Adventures and I have already taken the cd out of the player.
Songs I didn’t get to hear either night:
“How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us”
“Bang and Blame”
So back to this “Exhuming McCarthy” thing. I felt compelled to look up the lyrics to see if Michael Stipe attacked directly or feigned with analogy and vague references. Document is by far my favorite album of theirs and so I probably shouldn’t have to look up the lyrics when I can sing a ton of their songs in my head by rote, but alas, Sherman stole (er, well, was given permission to take and even offered to return to me) my R.E.M. collection when I moved to Boston and I’m a little rusty. This is the most specific it gets: “You’re beautiful more beautiful than me
You’re honorable more honorable than me
Loyal to the Bank of America.”
So what’s the song about? Here is Langston Hughes testifying before Congress: “You write it out of your soul and you write it for your own individual feeling of expression. First, sir, it does not come from yourself in the first place. It comes from something beyond oneself, in my opinion.” He’s not testifying about R.E.M.’s song (which, after all, was written during the Reagan administration) but about poetry. Why they are talking about poetry when its his political views on trial? I have no opinion on the matter.
Or if you prefer, there was an annotated R.E.M here http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Stage/9208/annotated.html which was utterly fascinating, more so because the site seemed to indicate that the work was done by a 13 year old, now deceased. The site itself has since been taken down, but whether he did it himself or had help, it was brilliant.
Finally, I received this from a friend, who is the closest person to an R.E.M. expert that I know:
“Exhuming McCarthy seems to be a reference to the day’s (the song was written during the Reagan era) politicians being bought with money, corporate interests being more important than human ones, and that America seems to be for sale. The title suggests that the McCarthy era of supposedly meaningless political witch hunts and, no doubt, other Republican tactics, is upon us once again.”
Begin the Begin
So Fast So Numb
Fall on Me
All the Way to Reno
The One I Love
Don’t Go Back to Rockville
Losing My Religion
At My Most Beautiful
She Just Wants to Be
Man on the Moon
Life and How to Live It
Imitation of Life
It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)