R.E.M. Live

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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

Cynics may dismiss R.E.M.'s first-ever live CD as a way to run out their contract, and they may not be wrong. Despite the lack of a full-fledged live album in their catalog -- and some could call R.E.M. Live not quite an album, since it is a two-CD/one-DVD package that documents a concert the group gave at the Point Theatre in Dublin, Ireland, on February 27, 2006, so it's as much a video as an album -- there hasn't exactly been a paucity of official live releases, not with all the home videos, DVDs, and B-sides issued over the years (and this isn't even counting the numerous bootlegs). If there wasn't necessarily a need for a live album, it also is true that R.E.M.'s stock never was lower than it was in 2007, as the band was limping along after Around the Sun, which was not so much a flop as it was merely ignored. So, the band could have conceivably been running down their contract or they could have been in a slump, needing the time that a live set bought them, or perhaps they just wanted to offer a reminder of why everybody cared in the first place, something that R.E.M. Live almost provides. At the very least, R.E.M. Live proves that the group packs a stronger punch live than they do in the studio, as the band gives songs from recent albums muscle they sorely missed on record. They also can sound vital on classic material, such as "Cuyahoga," which retains a fragile beauty here, and they give "I Took Your Name" a mean, menacing vibe. Not that everything clicks here -- as they go to the encore, they get a bit too strident and overblown, while Mike Mills' lead vocal on "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" turns the song into something a little too slight -- but the band sounds tight and enormous, a perfect example of old pros comfortable in their skin. Now, this won't necessarily be everybody's cup of tea -- in particular, fans of the frenzied early R.E.M. rock & roll will find this too anthemic -- but this big, big sound on R.E.M. Live speaks to the band's core strengths in a way no post-Bill Berry studio album does.

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
R.E.M. 04:06 Amazon
R.E.M. 05:41 Amazon
R.E.M. 04:39 Amazon
R.E.M. 02:27 Amazon
R.E.M. 06:46 Amazon
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