Before getting into the actual concert review, I’d like to say something about the seats that we had. I purchased the tickets from a LiveNation pre-sale. As many of you may recall, I was disappointed that had I not purchased pre-sale seats, I could have purchased closer seats through the Amex Front of the Line program the next day. What I didn’t know was that LiveNation has their own section in this venue. The seats in the section that we were in were spaced further apart so that we had lots of leg room and the seats were wider so that we weren’t crunched up against the person next to us…which was a nice feature in Sunday’s 35 degree humid temps. On top of that, this section was full service with several waitresses bringing food and drink directly to your seat. This came in handy when we decided between Modest Mouse and REM that we’d like some beverages, but it was thunderstorming. Rather than have to go out and stand in the long line-up at the beer tent and get rained on, we simply placed our order with the Server and five minutes later we were happy and dry sipping on a cold beverage. And, although these seats were a little further back than I normally like to be, they are elevated so that you can stay seated even if the sections in front of you are standing (which we did and which they were). Now, about the music…
I wanted to get into the venue in time to catch The National to see whether I liked them any better live than on CD. Due to an unfortunate dinner mishap (my husband ordered a hotdog that, when it arrived, didn’t look like anything that he wanted to eat so we had to wait while they cooked him up a burger instead), we arrived about halfway through their set. The band was tight, the performance was good but I’m still not really digging their music. I think it’s time for me to stop trying to like them and just move on. The crowd was thin as you would expect it to be for a first of three acts, but there were a lot of people in the audience who were obviously big fans.
Modest Mouse is very hit and miss for me. The songs that I like, I really like and the songs that I don’t like, I really don’t like. For the most part, I really liked their performance. They started off well but then went into a few tunes in the middle that just seemed like noise and then they finished off really strong. I don’t know if it was the mix or if the singer just likes to yell into the mic, but I found the vocals a little overpowering at times. The mix was also just a little too high end for me. Too much treble makes my ears hurt and I found myself clenching my teeth a few times. Overall though, I enjoyed their set but think that they would be much better seen in a smaller venue.
Well, I waited 20 years for this show and it was worth the wait. REM came out kicking ass and never stopped. I think that the review that Midfi posted from the Chicago show was a pretty apt description of the Toronto show as well. There was no room for slow songs in this set. The closest they got to slow was probably Hollow Man off the new album. Although the set list seems to be quite different (see below).
Stipes was in fine form dancing and prancing around the stage. The band was spot on. During their acoustic version of Let Me In, the band huddled around the keyboard and Stipes kept his back to the audience through the entire song. I’m sure that was intentional and I found it theatrically interesting since you rarely see anyone on stage with their back to the audience for long. The camera was in front of him though, so you could see his front view singing on the big screen. But in a way it took the focus off of him and put it on the band which was nice to see.
Other than one comment about the Bush Administration’s failure to respond to Hurricane Katrina during the introduction to Houston, there was no politics discussed. Which was a good thing. Performers coming into Canada and bringing their American political views with them normally doesn’t go over well. It was good to see REM not make this mistake.
I enjoyed this concert immensely and will not hesitate to see them again if I have the opportunity. My only criticism of the show was their closer. They chose to close with Man on the Moon. I was a huge Andy Kaufman fan and I’ve always found this song to be a very sentimental one for me. Even though they rocked it up, the sentiment was a bit of a downer to close the show with. I would have preferred to see them end with Stand or The End of the World or something along those lines.
REM Set list
Horse to Water
Man Sized Wreath
So Fast, So Numb
7 Chinese Brothers
Living Well is the Best Revenge
The One I Love
Until the Day is Done
Let Me In
Begin the Begin
I’m Gonna DJ
Losing My Religion
Fall on Me (with Johnny Marr on guitar)
Man on the Moon
Nice review, FA...wish I had the time to do it right today! Glad you enjoyed the show.
I really appreciate the fact that they're mixing up the set lists a little bit every night on this tour. Keeps things interesting for all involved. And yeah, it was good to see ol' Johnny Marr playing with Peter on "Fall On Me"...I meant to mention that.
Anyway, there's a reason why these guys are among my all-time favorite bands. They just have so many interesting, enjoyable songs (unless your ears are clogged with elf pee, that is).