Trip to the Past – R.E.M. in 1985


I’ve been having one of my mystery tours around YouTube half the evening, trying to see where I can get to from the options in the right-side sidebar, and it’s led me here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBVVtNnHeEg  It’s R.E.M. doing the German concert show Rockpalast in October 1985 and I am a long way from here and now.

I’m back in the first rush of buying Reckoning on impulse and not letting it off my turntable for over 52 weeks, in seeing the band at the Poly Union in the November of ’84, with Stipe apologising in one and the same breath for the re-Election of Ronnie Reagan and for wearing brown shoes, and the breathless hush of the a capella Moon River. Back to the heady rush of being taking over by a band having more fun just playing on stage than any band I’d seen before in my decade of gigging. Back to the hunt for bootleg tapes of gigs, especially gigs where there was the unrecorded stuff.

But this gig was 1985, which means Fables of the Revolution and winning the cassette of the album off Piccadilly Radio, the gig at the long-gone, brilliantly rough and ready International Club (the Bangles, the Replacements and those wonderfully raucous Half Man Half Biscuit nights), and then the Ritz in late October, first gig in the English leg of the World Tour, where I first heard Fall on Me and they repeated that trick of getting you to forget to breathe, with the rhythm-less So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry).

That would have been only days after this Rockpalast thing, and I’m watching and listening to a band who were the greatest fun on a live stage, with the livest, bursting music, and those jangling guitars and three part harmony choruses that are the simplest and most elemental music to uplift and enthuse me. And it’s all that mass of songs built around the stunning Reckoning album, and the new Fables numbers sounding sharper and more hungry than on the album – my god, albums! Two names on the spine.

Who now remembers that Reckoning‘s alternate name was File Under Water? Or that side two of Fables was actually titled Resurrection of the Fables?

And there is a way back there after all, and I’ve found a key to unlock a door into what hasn’t been for nearly thirty years, to when I could never have imagined the same band could entertain me for even half that long.

Excuse me, but I have to join in on this one.

With grateful thanks to Ken James for posting this.

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