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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Sunday, 17 July 2005

REM in the great beyond

Last night, in a word: stunning. I had heard reviews of some of REM's other gigs, and was a little disappointed that The Zutons weren't going to be appearing, so I went with a slight sense of uncertainty with Beth to a hot, sunny Hyde Park yesterday.

We found some shade under about the only two trees in the place (!) near a convenient ice cream van, and sat chatting until shortly before Johnathan Rice ambled onto the stage.

The venue was huge - "gold" ticket holders occupied the area in front of the stage, leaving us standard class concertgoers sixty or so metres away, although we managed to find a space quite close to the front barrier, where we had a moderately good view of the stage (though the occupants looked tiny!) but could see the tall screens either side. There was also a large speaker stack nearby, so we could definitely hear everything, too (and not much else with any clarity for the remainder of the day!)

His performance was almost entirely acoustic; Beth seemed to like him, but although I enjoy folk music, his songs didn't really strike home to me.

Next came the marvellous Idlewild who played all their hits and some more stuff, with a rather REM flavour (you can definitely see why they were picked!) For an excerpt of El Capitan (their most recent single) click here (270kB MP3).

They were followed by Feeder, who also played through their hits, and seemed to be enjoying the gig. Some of the tracks - including Just The Way I'm Feeling (291kB MP3) - were excellent, but I found the rest to be quite samey (quiet bit... rocky chorus... repeat until you sound a bit like a heavier version of Embrace).

Then REM came on, and succeeded in blowing away any apprehension I might have had about the concert... wow.

They sang my favourites, kicking off with Bad Day (313kB MP3) and setting the crowd on a rollercoaster of emotions, from Losing My Religion (330kB MP3) to Everybody Hurts (brought a tear to the eye). They also played their anti-war song, The Final Straw (345kB MP3), displaying the lyrics for everyone to follow.

As the evening gave way to night, and the light show became ever more impressive, they performed more of their hits (saving some for the encore, naturally); it was a shame that my camera phone chose that evening to stop working, so I have no photos of the event (unless one of the friendly folk who was also at the gig were to email me some pictures!)

When it was all over, though, and we stepped over acres of discarded plastic bottles, we realised that Park Lane had been closed (to allow the concert-goers to leave) so the coaches couldn't reach the stop! We walked to my office, hoping that the night-shift engineer would be there to let us in and wait for everything to calm down.

We made it home by 2am, thirsty, tired, having been diverted from the M1 by a woodyard fire (which, after eleven hours, was still burning!) and ready for bed.

Fortunately, we can relive the experience next weekend, as Radio 2 are broadcasting a recording of the concert on Saturday 23rd at 9.30pm. Hooray!

Posted by james at July 17, 2005 9:44 PM

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