I have to confess that I was not very happy at this gig. I'm in the REM fan club, but missed the pre sales ticket links to get downstairs tickets, so joined Ticketmasters Gold Club at an extra £20 a year to queue jump when tickets go on sale. You are given an alternative phone line. They promised me I had great seats in the circle, so I took them, only to find that they had sold me the worst tickets in the house, standing right at the back of Hammersmith Apollo. If I had got any further back, I would have been on the motorway.

Still the sound was, despite all this, pretty good. When REM arrived on stage, Michael Stipe was dressed in a suit and was wearing his now infamous Batman style eyemask.

They opened up with 'I Took Your Name' from their weakest album , 'Monster' before rocking into last year's 'Animal' from their Warner Brothers era recent Greatest Hits compilation, 'In Time'.

'Undertow' followed which is not played live that often, and then 'The Outsiders' from last year's studio album ''Around the Sun'. It is not what you would expect from REM featuring a rap, but Michael did this well, taking over guest vocalist Q-Tip's role on the album version.

'Seven Chinese Brothers' and then 'High Speed Train' followed. Both were great. Then there was 'Everybody Hurts' and everyone in the audience went mad for it because everybody at some point does hurt. It reduced me to tears.

This was followed by 'Electron Blue', Michael's original choice for single from the album. It was then followed by the lovely 'Leaving New York,' which I feel is the best love song ever written since the Bangles' Eternal Flame.' It is written specifically for a city and post 9/11 has an added poignancy.

They then played 'I've Been High, another live rarity, this time from 2002's 'Reveal' album and then 'Departure' from their over looked 1996 'New Adventures in Hi Fi' CD.

'Orange Crush', their first Top of the Pops hit here from way back in 1988. was next.After that there were two songs dedicated to the Bush administration, 'I Wanted to Be Wrong' and 'Final Straw'. Both these songs are very political and, straight to the point, suggest you don't have to believe in your leaders.

'Imitation of Life', the band's recent first number 1 single in Japan, got the crowd swinging. 'The One I Love Again' also had
the crowd dancing, even though, they were still a cult band back in '87 when this was released.

'Walk Unafraid' sounded so much better live then on record. The main set was closed with possibly their biggest hit to date , 'Losing My Religion'.

The encores flowed nicely with rare outings for 'Sweetness Follows' and 'Swan Swan H', but my favourite was the still unreleleased 'I'm Gonna DJ' which is pure punk rock heaven, The evening came to a close with 'Man on the Moon', which live has become a sing-a long-piece. And we all left happy, even us people at the back.......

Set list :

I Took Your Name
The Outsiders
Seven Chinese Brothers
High Speed Train
Everybody Hurts
Electron Blue
Leaving New York
I've Been High
Orange Crush
I Wanted to Be Wrong
Final Straw
Imitation of life
The One I love
Walk Afraid
Losing My Religion

Encores :

What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
Bad Day
Sweetness Follows
Swan Swan H
I'm Gonna DJ
Man on the Moon

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Commenting On: Hammersmith Odeon, London, 19/2/2005 - REM

ie London, England

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