Sunday 26 June 2011

The Best Band I Ever Saw Live

I've seen a lot of bands over the years.  Some big, some not so big.  I've seen bands I love, bands I'd never heard of and bands that I fell for after seeing them.

On the 15th of June 2005 I was at the Isle of Wight Festival and for some, still unfathomable reason, the organisers had managed to get REM on the bill.  It was only the second year of the Festival being a full blown three day event and we weren't used to getting huge bands like REM.

I'd been a bit of a fan of them for a while, had a few albums and their IRS best of album had dominated my year in Australia at the beginning of the 90s.  Out of Time and Automatic for the People were albums that I'd lived inside when they'd been released so I was looking forward to seeing them live but they completely blew me away on the night.

The sun was setting when they came on stage, Michael Stipe had a blue stripe painted across his face and from the moment they started it was mesmerising.  I'd never felt like it at a gig before and haven't since.  The thing is it felt like we were all caught like rabbits in REM headlights and from the first song to the last everything just stopped.  

When they played Everybody Hurts it was like the band were throwing out magic dust from their instruments.  The crowd sang every word and it felt like we were all sat around a campfire singing a folk song together.  A beautiful, perfect moment as the sun went down.

I still get shivers when I think about Nightswimming, Disturbance at the Heron House and Man on the Moon.  Every song felt special, every song felt fresh.  

Whatever you think of REM, trust me, that night in a field on the Isle of Wight was fucking special.

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