R.E.M. Sunday November 7, 2004 A.J. Palumbo Center Pittsburgh, PA

w/ Joseph Arthur

Peter Buck and Mike Mills autographed ticket stub

Finest Worksong/Begin The Begin/Wake Up Bomb/Animal/Boy In The Well/Imitation Of Life/High Speed Train/So.Central Rain/The Outsiders/
Electrolite/I've Been High/The One I Love/I Wanted To Be Wrong/(Don't Go Back To) Rockville*/Final Straw/Losing My Religion/Walk Unafraid/
Life And How To Live It

Encore: What's The Frequency, Kenneth?/Drive/Sweetness Follows/Leaving New York/Permanent Vacation/I Want To DJ/Man On The Moon**

*-with Mike Mills on lead vocal  **-dedicated to and requested by Michael Stipe's family in attendance

Pittsburgh Post Gazette Weekend Mag cover Friday, November 5, 2004

This is my seventh time seeing R.E.M. since 1986. I wasn't planning on going due to the fact that tickets were around $60. I am sorry, but I just can't swing that kinda scratch. Friday night my father, who drives a limo, calls and asks who's playing the Palumbo on Sunday. I say R.E.M. He is to pick up Bertis Downs, their long-time manager, at the venue after the show and drive him to the airport. The wheels start spinning in my head and for the fuck of it I put the CD covers of Up and Life's Rich Pageant, a shitty little poster that came with the In Time: Best Of limited edition disc, a ticket stub from Blossom '99, and a sharpie in a self addressed stamped envelope and ask my dad to see what he can do. Sunday night I am chilling and my dad calls around 8 p.m. They just gave him a backstage pass and he said he would drop it off if I wanted it. Fuckin' A! 

I get down to the show with some more CD covers and my camera and start sniffing around backstage. I run into keyboardist Ken Stringfellow and ask him if there is a meet and greet. He said not till after the show. Then some English asshole bigshot tour manager approaches me and asks why if I have a crew pass am I asking for the meet and greet? I should be working. I explain the story and he says to go enjoy the show, which hasn't started yet, and not come backstage again. I apologize and go find a nice place to hang.

"Oiy! Whataya doin' here mate?" Cocksucking Pa-pa-PRICK!!

The show was very good. The new stuff was like putting the brakes on a runaway train but the older material was smoking. 'Begin The Begin', 'So. Central Rain', and especially 'Life and How To Live It' were absolutely stellar. A rare Mike Mills lead vocal on 'Rockville' was too cool. The political banter was at a minimum and the crowd seemed to be tuckered out after a full day of partying watching the Steelers hand the Eagles their ass on a platter earlier in the afternoon. Highly enjoyable show. Worth $60? I wouldn't go that far.

Anyhow, the show is coming to a close and I thought to myself, Fuck it, I'm gonna try to get to that meet and greet. I go backstage again and run into my dad. His comment is that Stipe has a hell of a voice. The show is over and I casually walk back to the green room and ask security is this the meet and greet room. Some tour manager says yeah, follow me. Things are looking good. Then some cunt asks if I have a pass. Calmly I say I was supposed to come back and get one. She starts freaking out and acting like I'm Bin Laden and in a second I am out the door. Outside by the tourbus two dudes are waiting with albums in hand and I wait with them and talk while a small crowd of a dozen people gathers. 30 minutes later Peter Buck comes out and congenially signs stuff for people before getting on his bus. In a short while Mike Mills comes out and does the same. Mike Mills is in the running with Johnny Hickman as THE nicest rock star on the planet. Is Michael Stipe gonna shine? His bus is parked near the stage exit where security won't allow the crowd to gather and he slips onto his bus and is wisked away. Da-da-DICK!

Peter Buck and Mike Mills autographed Murmur, Fables Of The Reconstruction, and Out Of Time CD covers

So the next day my dad calls and I thought he might ream me out for "abusing" his crew pass. He said Bertis was very down to earth and didn't give a shit about it and even told him he'd get the guys to sign my stuff and send it back to me. We'll see. I'll keep you posted.

Review from The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Tuesday November 9, 2004


He may be off the campaign trail, but Michael Stipe was in no rush to "bridge the partisan divide" and bring the country together as a sea of shiny happy people Sunday night, as R.E.M. performed a mix of old and new at the A.J. Palumbo Center.

And it went beyond the joy he seemed to take in the over-enunciation of "Bushwacked" in a haunting performance of 'Drive'.

It was more in the way two anti-Bush songs from Around The Sun, the band's new album, emerged as the concert's emotional core. Stipe introduced 'I Wanted to Be Wrong' as "our State of the Union address," then poured his heart out in a soulful performance that peaked on a heartbreaking chorus of "I told you I wanted to be wrong, but everyone is humming a song that I don't understand."

'Final Straw' was more defiant, a broadside of Lennon-esque protest-folk. Although there was some jeering anytime the banter turned political, the point in 'Final Straw' where Stipe stands up to the Masters of War with "Love will be my strongest weapon/I do believe that I am not alone" was met with wild applause.

Another highlight taken from the new release, 'Leaving New York', weighed in on 9/11 with a broken heart that couldn't undermine the biggest hook on R.E.M.'s new album, taken up a notch in concert by sideman Scott McCaughey on vocals.

While playing no fewer than six songs from Around the Sun, the band seemed surprisingly connected to the oldies, especially guitarist Peter Buck, who replicated nearly every riff and solo from 'Finest Worksong' to 'The One I Love'. Even the mandolin on 'Losing My Religion' was just the way we heard it in the early '90s. Bassist Mike Mills took the center mike for a romp through '(Don't Go Back to) Rockville'. The sidemen (multi-instrumentalists McCaughey and ex-Posie Ken Stringfellow with ex-Ministry drummer Bill Rieflin, all of whom are in Buck's other band, The Minus 5) are starting to feel like they're part of the band.

And Stipe was just amazing, with his Riddler makeup and his zany dance moves, neither of which, surprisingly, detracted from the passion of his singing, which was evident from the opening lines of 'Finest Worksong' through the final encore of 'Man on the Moon'.

Other highlights ranged from 'Wake Up Bomb', 'So. Central Rain' and 'Begin the Begin' to a raucous outtake from the early days that sent Buck leaping in the air as Stringfellow pounded out Jerry Lee Lewis piano chords and McCaughey whooped it up on the mike. They never seemed more rock 'n' roll. Not that they necessarily should have.

-- Review by Ed Masley

R.E.M. Update

I get this in the mail on November 29th, twenty two days after seeing the band perform. Way to go Bertis!

R.E.M. autographed ticket stub from Wednesday, August 25, 1999 Blossom Music Center Cuyahoga Falls, OH

R.E.M. (sans Bill Berry) autographed Life's Rich Pageant CD cover.

R.E.M. autographed Up CD cover.

Detail of R.E.M. autographed In Time: The Best Of R.E.M.1988-2003 limited edition mini-poster.

Too fucking sweet! The package was postmarked from Seattle where the band played a two night stand on November 19th and 20th. 


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