R.E.M. – Live From Austin, TX

Release Date 25/10/2010

Review by Simon A. Morrison

Austin City Limits is the longest running music show on American television, hosting everyone from Roy Orbison to David Byrne.  R.E.M. took to its stage on March 13th 2008 to play a set in front of a very intimate audience of 350.  17 tracks from that set makeup this live DVD.

Couple of things immediately come to mind.  Why has it taken over two and a half years for that evening to transfer to DVD?  That gig was days before the release of R.E.M’s 14thstudio album, Accelerate, and therefore features many tracks from that LP; however in 2011 we’re already anticipating the release next year of the new one, Collapse Into Now, so it immediately feels a little…well, if you’ll excuse the pun…Out of Time.  Also, bands performing intimate gigs is a commendable endeavour. I remember with great fondness gigs spent close to the likes of the Fun Lovin’ Criminals and Liam Frost.  However that doesn’t necessarily transfer to the DVD experience because, when I watch LiveFrom Austin Texas, I’m in the even more intimate environs of my living room.  And, as the wife and kids are asleep upstairs, I am in an extremely select audience of one.

That’s not to say there aren’t great moments on this DVD – tracks like Drive, So. Central Rain, Electrolite and Supernatural Superserious absolutely come alive, and massive hits like Losing My Religion and Man On The Moon (which ends the concert), remain fabulously vivid and benefit from the intimacy of the performance, perhaps over the new material. However, between tracks Stipe mumbles his introductions as he’s talking to people very close…which I am not, as I am not in Austin, TX, but Stockport, SK.

So, a great collection of songs from a truly tremendous band, but a release probably designed for the O.C.D. collectors of R.E.M.

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