May 2018
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Following the announcement last week that REM were going to cease to exist as a band, considered opinion seems to be that they should have broken up long ago, maybe when Bill Berry left the band in 1997, and that their last few albums were the sounds of a once-great band trying to rediscover what made them great.

There’s a lot to that. Of the post-Berry albums, there’s only one that I can claim I really enjoyed and that was ‘Up’, the first one after he left. But, I came to REM relatively late. I saw the full line-up on the Monster tour in 1995, but by the time of their next world tour, Berry had left. Had they broken up at this point, I wouldn’t have seen them at :

Earls Court – 1999
Los Angeles – 1999
Brixton Academy – 2003
Hammersmith Apollo – 2005
Hyde Park – 2005
Dublin Olympia Theatre – 2007
Royal Albert Hall – 2008

Every one of those shows was fantastic – The two shows at Brixton Academy were romps through their back catalogue featuring loads of tracks from ‘Fables’ and ‘Lifes Rich Pageant’. The Dublin show was a ‘Working Rehearsal’ featuring new unreleased material and obscurities from way back. The fan club show at the Royal Albert Hall saw myself putting a protective front-row cordon around Mrs M and our not yet visible bump.

So yes, I agree that the band have not recorded their best material in the past decade, but they have been one of the most important bands in my life in the past 20 years, and I’m really glad that I got the chance to see them so many times, and that they never, ever, sucked.

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