It's a Tuesday night, and I'm under the Hammersmith Broadway with my ticket in my hand. Normally when I go to a concert and have a ticket and the doors are open, I am able to go straight in. Tonight the queue is around the block by the fish and chip shop that I used many times in my youth. I haven't been to the Apollo since '92 when I saw Lou Reed launch his 'Magic and Loss. This is, however, my fourth REM gig here.

Within five minutes of getting into the ex-cinema, Razorlight come on stage and crack through most of their brilliant debut album 'Up All Night' with pure verve and elegance and for once don't self-destruct on stage. The set is short as all of tonight's sets, but frontman Johnny Borrell shows me for the first time (This is my third Razorlight gig that he not only has the songs but he has the charm to be a star of pin up quality to the youth who have come to worship at Razorlight's altar.

Next up is the soul element of the show, Birmingham's Jamelia. She is well received by the pop crowd here who seem happy to swallow anything thrown their way. I get the feeling the people around me don't get out often, especially to see live bands. Jamelia even apologises several times as she isn't playing to her regular crowd, but it's adequate soul which is rounded off by an acoustic version of Blondie's 'Heart of Glass', which is performed just by her and Razorlight's Johnny on acoustic guitar. They both fluff the words up, but it is fun.

Next up is movie star Minnie Driver who has decided to give pop a try, but admits that it is not her day job, Current single, 'Everything I've Got in My Pocket', doesn't sound bad and nor does her slow country ballad reading of Bruce Spinsteen's 'Hungry Heart'. Her backing band does all the work while she wiggles her mid riff.

She is still a thousand times better though than the wrongly named the Thrills whom are so bad that they are a joke. Everyone else here, however, disagrees and the Irish boys now living in Hollywood are greeted like long lost sons visiting their loving parents. Recent single 'Whatever Happeened to Corey Haim ?' is introduced as being about the 80's actor who appeared in the horror film 'The Lost Boys'. At one point REM's Peter Buck joins them on stage to play mandolin to one of their songs. He should have known better really. After about 30 minutes in which the kids in the audience smile like cheshire cats and jump around like idiots, they finally thankfully leave the stage.

After an extended delay REM hit the stage and receive a warm welcome which finds the audience going mad as they launch into 'Lose My Religion', a traditional encore number as their first song. It's still a good song even though the second I heard it, I said to myself 'That's it. REM are now mainstream.'

Michael Stipe announces before the second song 'It's been quite a night here already. Thanks to Oxfam for letting us join in this evening.'

What makes this so special for all us non pop community, genuine REM fans gathered here is that tonight we get to hear REM's last three years worth of labour for the first time. Three of the songs from their new album, 'Around the Sun', are premiered for the first time tonight. We are not disappointed either. Chris Martin joins the band on stage during 'Man on the Moon', one of the encore numbers. Chris and Michael sing it as a duet and the crowd go mad. I am not sure if they are more excited about seeing a Coldplay member or hearing a REM classic. After a two song encore, they are gone after 40 minutes. It has been a good, but variable evening

Razorlight Set List :

Rip It Up
Stumble and Fall
Which Way is Out
Fall, Fall, Fall
Golden Touch
In the City

REM Set List :

Losing My Religion
The Boy in the Well
Walk Unafraid
Leaving New York
Man on the Moon


I Wanted to be Wrong
Bad Day

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Commenting On: Make Trade Fair Oxfam, Hammersmith Apollo, 20/9/20 - REM ; The Thrills ; Minnie Driver ; Jame

ie London, England

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