Wednesday, 8 August 2007
REM LIVE REHEARSALS
DUBLIN, OLYMPIA THEATRE
THURSDAY, 05TH JULY 2007
I arrived in Dublin from London on the evening of 4th July 2007. Went from the airport straight to the hostel to drop off my bags, then went on to the Olympia to see if I could catch up with some other REM fans, since I did not see night 4.
Surely enough I met Julie and Tim from London and recognised them straight away (who I met after Bush Hall gig in a Chip shop a couple of years ago!). I said hello and got chatting. David was also there, whom I hadn’t met before. After a few Guinness and me listening in awe of their experiences of the show, me and Julie decided to go and see if any of the band members were coming out of the venue.
There was nobody at the stage door, but I went to the other side, while Julie was buying another drink. And shortly afterwards I heard a very familiar voice: It was Mike Mills coming out of the building with his girlfriend! I was the only fan there so I took the opportunity to get a picture with him. He was really friendly and after the security guy didn’t manage to take a picture, Mike took my camera in hand himself, which in the process he nearly dropped!! Imagine that had happened…
Then he took an awesome “self-portrait” of him and me.
Later I told Julie and David that I would meet them in the infamous queue in front of the Olympia the next day. I didn’t have a ticket yet, but had arranged to pick it up from another fan. I was slightly anxious since I didn’t know if he would really turn up to give me the ticket. So at 11.00 am I was at the Olympia, already about 15 people in front of me, some of them waiting since 7.30am!!
Then it was just waiting, fighting off the rain, waiting some more, chatting to other fans, etc. Then it was time to go and get my ticket. The guy, called Peter DID turn up which I was very grateful for and we exchanged ticket/money. After a quick lunch, we went back in the queue for some more waiting.
At around 4pm some people were lurking around the stage door, since Michael hadn’t entered the Olympia yet. We could hear Peter, Mike and co. rehearsing some songs. Then suddenly people got restless… because Michael Stipe, the man himself – came walking down the alley leading to the stage door. I was so excited my heart was beating fast and I had to take a deep breath and prepare my camera. I saw him signing some ticket stubs but he looked in a hurry and kept on walking. So I asked him: “hi Michael, how are you, is it ok if I take a picture?” He responded to me: “Yeah, but you gotta be quick - I’m late”.
I was so taken aback that HE – my hero himself – had spoken to me!! So I took a quick self-portrait with my camera which turned out a bit blurred but Michael has got this wonderful smile. Then I took another one while he was talking to Nadia.
It turned out that this was very lucky for her, since the photo she asked David to take of her and Michael did not come out.
I was so excited, my hands were shaking. Can you believe it, I met Michael Stipe!! Needless to say I was on a high for the rest of the day and evening.
So they finally let us into the Olympia at 7pm. We walked fast, and I bought a t-shirt on the way in. Turned out it was too small, but nevermind – it’s got the titles of the new songs on it! Rushed to the front waiting for them to put on our wristbands. Then I stood 2nd row in between Julie and and a girl from Austria. The anticipation got bigger and bigger.
Finally Mundy took the stage and played a few acoustic numbers. He wasn’t bad, but I must say I would have preferred to see him in a small pub venue, sipping my Guinness, not as a support act for R.E.M.!
- THIS IS NOT A SHOW -
So after some more waiting, at around 9.20pm they took the stage to start the "non-show"!
Here he was, Michael right in front of me, looking gorgeous as ever, with his black-rimmed glasses, a shirt, tie and a white suit jacket! And a bit unshaven. Perfect! He unfolded his black Macbook with a sticker saying “Impeach” on it (referring to the current president of course)! Peter and Mike looked pretty cool and relaxed as well.
Then REM just launched straight into a new song called “Living Well’s the best revenge” (a rocker) followed by “Staring at the barrel of the middle distance”.
After that Michael made a short introduction as to why they were there:
“We’re REM and this is what we do … when you’re not looking” in case anyone walked in off the street (highly likely!), he explained rather than sitting in their studio in Athens, Georgia and rehearsing there, they thought it would be a good idea to perform the new songs in front of an audience and to see their own (the band’s) reaction to the songs.
This was followed by a great version of “Welcome to the Occupation” a song from the Document album (1985).
Old classics and rarities like “Pretty Persuasion”, “Second Guessing” (1984) and “Romance” (1984) followed by “West of the Fields” (1983) (where Michael explained some lyrics and now I’ve got the lyric sheet) and “Cuyahoga” (1985), “Auctioneer” (1986-Fables), and one of my favourites “Gardening at Night” (1983) upon request of their manager, Bertis Downs.
The new songs and the old ones mixed in well together and Michael talked a lot about meaning of songs and was very chatty and witty. The audience loved it and soaked up every word.
In the queue I had painted a couple of sings, one of them saying “King of birds” which was a song request. Michael reacted to it and talked to me again, saying since he would read everything that he sees in front of him, even what it says on t-shirts and could I please put the sign down, "we're not gonna play this tonight, but thanks for asking"! I obeyed!
Later on I was holding up another sign saying “You are my everything” which was not really a song request (a reference to a lyric though) but just to let them know what I thought. Michael again looked straight at me, shook his head and when I put the sign down he thanked me (while singing!!) I was just taken aback! that put a huge smile on my face!
Before the only song off Around the Sun was performed, Michael explained that him and Peter could not tell a joke for the life of them. So he tried to tell a joke and of course didn’t succeed. Then they played “The worst joke ever”.
All in all it was just an indescribable atmosphere in the Olympia and it was like having REM in your living room talking and performing. It was just incredible! A night I will never forget. Probably one of the best gigs, because of the intimacy and personally, the wonderful interaction between Michael and me but also to be privileged to hear the new songs before anyone else can.
Thank you R.E.M. and please never stop what you are doing, You are My everything! Can’t wait for the tour and new album!
Posted by Amanita at 22:33