R.E.M. Impress Fans, U2, Debuting Guitar-Heavy New Tracks In Dublin

July 2, 2007 9:45 AM ET

Twenty-seven years and thirteen studio albums ago, R.E.M. played Dublin for the first time. On Saturday, the band returned to Ireland for "Working Rehearsals," five sold-out gigs at the city's Olympia Theatre to test out material from their fourteenth effort, midway through recording. Why Dublin? Bassist Mike Mills described the audience as "some of the best fans in the world."

In stark contrast to the elaborate setup they brought on their most recent tour for 2004's Around the Sun, R.E.M. performed in front of a simple backdrop marked "This is Not a Show." Michael Stipe took the stage equipped with a music stand full of lyrics and a laptop (sporting a sticker that read IMPEACH), and opened with a new song that recalled the band's earlier work, the aggressive, angsty "Living Wells." Guinness in hand, Stipe admitted some of the songs had not yet been played by the whole band before he dove into another new track, the stripped-down, guitar-heavy "Staring Down."

After offering a special thanks to U2's Bono and the Edge, who came out to support their friends, R.E.M. plucked only a few selections from their archive, including "Electrolite," "Little America" and "These Days." The crowd relished every moment of the band's 19-song set, bobbing their heads through the melancholy "Mr. Richards" and the brief yet rambling "Houston," and listening intently as Stipe cautiously debuted "Man Size Wreath." The singer openly scratched and edited lyrics onstage as the band launched into the simple "Till the Day Is Done" (guitarist Peter Buck's favorite tune so far). They wrapped up with the tormented "Horse to Water."

After their Dublin residency ends this Wednesday, R.E.M. will return to their Athens, Georgia, hometown to finish the as-yet-untitled album. If they capture any of the courage they displayed Saturday night, this effort may be the most bold R.E.M. release in years.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »