Addicted To Vinyl Musical thoughts from the open road, with headphones on

7Jan/1013

Good Listening: R.E.M – Live in Cleveland – 6/11/95

You always remember your first concert. Mine was R.E.M. and Luscious Jackson at the Gund Arena in Cleveland, on June 11, 1995. The Athens, Georgia, quartet was my favorite band at the time, and had been for several years. I first became aware of them when a local radio station flipped to the modern-rock format by playing “It’s The End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” for 24 hours straight. I was in sixth grade and just discovering modern music (Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” perplexed me – the name, it was so odd!), and so I tried to memorize the tongue-twisting R.E.M. song.

R.E.M.

My love for the group only deepened when I started watching MTV a few months later. Buoyed by the popularity of 1991’s Out of Time and 1992’s Automatic for the People, R.E.M. videos were in heavy rotation on the station. I was especially drawn to “Man on the Moon,” because I thought vocalist Michael Stipe kept saying my name throughout the song. (Only later did I realize he was saying “Andy,” as in the comic Kaufman.) Either way, I was officially hooked.

At this time, the band hadn’t gone on a full-scale tour since 1989, and so my first chance to see them came after the release of 1994’s Monster. There was only one problem: Tickets to the Cleveland show went on sale on a weekday morning in early 1995 – and I was fifteen, couldn’t drive and wasn’t allowed to skip school. Clearly, I would die if I didn’t have tickets to the show, which I must have conveyed to my parents: My dad stood in line at the grocery store (remember the days of Ticketmaster outlets and snagging a wristband to secure a spot?) and snagged a pair of tickets for me.

Months passed, and I had to suffer through the rest of my freshman year in high school before I could attend the show. But finally, finally, June rolled around, and it was summer vacation – and time for the long-awaited concert.

I quite enjoyed the openers, NYC funky rockers Luscious Jackson, although the guy behind me heckled the band rather loudly. (More on that later.) R.E.M. delighted me by opening its set with “I Took Your Name,” and “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” These kicked off a stellar setlist: two gems from Time (“Half a World Away,” “Near Wild Heaven”), a few new songs and blistering versions of Monster’s raucous jams. Stipe even took time out to single out my section mate and directed a spotlight toward him. I was thrilled that the band was acknowledging the guy’s jackass behavior, because it meant they were turned right toward me!

The following bootleg is an audience recording of the show, so the stage banter is muffled and the quality certainly won’t please audiophiles (or bootleg-o-philes). But somehow, those imperfections make this recording that much more special to me. It sounds like you’re in the middle of the cheering audience, a crowded arena electrified by an energetic, confident rock band. It made me feel fifteen again – that time in your life when everything is new, exciting, confusing and frustrating, and seeing your favorite band in a big, loud arena is enough to create memories that linger, fifteen years later.

I’ve seen R.E.M. twelve other times since 1995, but none of these shows has compared to this, my first.

P.S. Happy birthday, Michael Stipe. He turned 50 on Monday.

Track Listing:

complete zipped download

Disc 1:

1. I Took Your Name
2. What's the Frequency, Kenneth?
3. Circus Envy
4. Drive
5. Near Wild Heaven
6. Crush With Eyeliner
7. I Don't Sleep, I Dream
8. Undertow
9. Strange Currencies
10. Bang and Blame
11. Revolution
12. Turn You Inside Out
13. Tongue
14. Man on the Moon
15. Country Feedback
16. Half a World Away

Disc 2:

1. Losing My Religion
2. Pop Song '89
3. Get Up
4. Star 69
5. Let Me In
6. Everybody Hurts
7. Band Intros
8. Finest Worksong
9. Departure
10. It's the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

  • http://www.twitter.com/concertvault Dopeburger

    We're roughly the same age, Annie, and I've been gradually realizing over the past few years that the 90's didn't suck as much as I thought. Thanks for the flashback…I too tried to memorize the words to 'It's the End of the World.'

  • anniezaleski

    thank you! and no — the '90s had quite a lot of good stuff. :)

  • Dan

    Always love live REM, but, yeah, this recording kinda blows. But I'll still download it. Thanks! Let me know if you post any more REM!

  • http://www.birchlane.blogspot.com/ Scott

    Nice write up Annie. I'm a little older than you, but R.E.M. also became my favorite band my Freshman year of H.S. (1988-89). By sophomore year my Chemistry teacher was telling us stories about having Michael Stipe in her class in the late 1970's. I had heard Life's Rich Pageant and Document, but Green was the first album I bought. From there I bought every album, joined the fan club, and collected singles, bootlegs, and rarities. I once spent $200 to buy all of the 12″ singles at Euclid Records. I too saw R.E.M. for the first time on the Monster tour. I saw the show in St. Louis at Riverport. A friend of mine and I went to Mississippi Nights to get tickets the day they went on sale. There were line tickets and we got one and then there was a lottery to decide the order. Our number was chosen first! We ended up in 6th row center. They played my favorite song “So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)” Perfect.

  • http://musiklot.com/blog/wp-login.php pamelia

    its ok nto bad but not upto the expectation level of mine

    musiklot.com/blog/wp-login.php

  • http://musiklot.com/blog/ jecintha

    good list of songs

    @annie 9os really had a very good stuff

    musiklot.com/blog/

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  • Demetri I.

    Reading this brought me way back. I may as well have written it except I was in 8th grade and my mom got in line at the local Russo’s to snag me tickets.

    I remember being in the barber shop on or around my birthday in 1995 and seeing on CNN that Bill Berry suffered an aneurysm and that the tour was indefinitely postponed. I was a young and dumb kid so all I really cared about was missing the show. I was devastated.

    I will never forget being in my room and hearing the DJ on 107.9 The End announce that the show was back on.

    That show was by far the greatest day of my life up until that point. I was never more excited for anything. Much bigger and better things have happened in my life since then, but there’s something about the unbridled enthusiasm of being a 14 year old and excited about a hobby of yours for the first time.

    I got tickets to the show in late January and the show was on June 11. I literally didn’t care about anything else during that 5 1/2 month period.

    Thanks so much for writing this up and posting the show. My night is made.

  • Michael Patti

    Today is the 20th anniversary of this show. It was my first grown up concert. Hope the download still works, I can’t wait to give it a listen.