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REVIEW: R.E.M. Live at the Olympia

I know what I like when it comes to music, and in most cases, cannot name the source of said pleasure in terms of album or CD names, producers, studios, etc.. My tastes in music is also determined by too many outside factors that if I were to try and analyze them, it might change things dramatically. So, having said this, I need for you, the reader, to understand that I am in no way to be considered a professional resource for musicology and that anyone making a choice to agree or disagree with me is really a moot point. Did I mention that I like what I like? Good, now we may proceed...

R.E.M. Live at The Olympia is an upcoming live 2 CD set by R.E.M.. It is a recording of a 5-night residency the band held in Dublin, Ireland at the Olympia Theatre between June 30 and July 5, 2007, and is scheduled for release on October 27, 2009.

In this series of ‘working rehearsals’ many songs from Accelerate were debuted, many of them still considered ‘works in progress’. The track listing released to MOTORCITYBLOG, for our review from Warner Bros. Records, contains 39 tracks. The tracks are compiled from 11 of their previous releases, including Accelerate.


“Thank you for participating in our grand experiment tonight… We are REM and this is what we do when you’re not looking… this is a rehearsal… this is not a show.” - Michael Stipe

WHAT THE FUCK?!?! No 'It's the End of the World as We Know It', 'Stand', or even 'Orange Crush'? How can Michael & Company release a Live rehearsal 2-set CD without including three of the most iconic songs of my youth?

Easily. And with success.

Honestly, it wasn't until I was finished listening to all 39 tracks in my office that I realized the songs of my youth were missing... and I really didn't miss them.

The inclusion of subtle dialogue between songs was a nice touch making you really pay attention to the next song. It was almost like the old MTV Unplugged series, but less cliche, and with a lot more electricity running thru those wonderful R.E.M. guitars. Michael's voice, although still whiskey-smooth and as strong as ever on most tracks, was noticeably older on 'Drive'...but in a really cool subtle Tom Waits-ish way. I am looking forward to hearing his voice in another 20-30 years. As for the overall sound quality, I am looking forward to playing this on a really good sound system, because I have a feeling this would kick some ass. Great mixing of vocals and instrumentation without blowing one or the other out. I am willing to say this is one of the BEST LIVE RECORDINGS of a band performance in a long time.


Disc 1
‘Living Well is the Best Revenge’ (from
‘Second Guessing’ (from
‘Letter Never Sent’ (from
‘Staring Down the Barrel of the Middle Distance’ (Previously Unreleased)
‘Disturbance at the Heron House’ (from
‘Mr. Richards’ (from
‘Houston’ (from
‘New Test Leper’ (from
New Adventures in Hi-Fi)
‘Cuyahoga’ (from
Lifes Rich Pageant)
‘Electrolite’ (from
New Adventures in Hi-Fi)
‘Man-Sized Wreath’ (from
‘So. Central Rain’ (from
‘On The Fly’ (Previously Unreleased)
‘Maps and Legends’ (from
Fables of the Reconstruction)
‘Sitting Still’ (from
‘Driver 8’ (from
Fables of the Reconstruction)
‘Horse to Water’ (from
‘I'm Gonna DJ’ (from
‘Circus Envy’ (from
‘These Days’ (from
Lifes Rich Pageant)

Disc 2
‘Drive’ (from
Automatic for the People)
‘Feeling Gravitys Pull’ (from
Fables of the Reconstruction)
‘Until the Day is Done’ (from
‘Accelerate’ (from
‘Auctioneer’ (from
Fables of the Reconstruction)
‘Little America’ (from
‘1,000,000’ (from
Chronic Town)
‘Disguised’ (Later released as ‘Supernatural Superserious’ on
‘The Worst Joke Ever’ (from
Around the Sun)
‘Welcome to the Occupation’ (from
‘Carnival of Sorts (Boxcars)’ (from
Chronic Town)
‘Harborcoat’ (from
‘Wolves, Lower’ (from
Chronic Town) ‘I've Been High’ (from Reveal)

Just buy it. Download it. Or pirate it. I really don't care how you get it, but you will be pissed if you don't have it in your R.E.M. collection.