R.E.M. LIVE | Warner Bros.
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  November 13, 2007
2.0 2.0 Stars
In their early days — as they broke out of clubs and into large theaters — R.E.M. were hit-or-miss live. But for more than a decade their concerts have boasted the power, authority, and joy that are expected from veterans whose catalogue holds some of the best songs of the alternative-rock era. So what happened? This two-CD/single-DVD on-stage retrospective (from a February 2006 show in Dublin) is a snooze. Sure, there are some great tunes: “Everybody Hurts,” the recent buzzy psychedelic gem “Electron Blue,” “Orange Crush,” “Losing My Religion,” and the early dream-popper “Don’t Go Back to Rockville.” None really catches fire, however, or stretches beyond its original skin. The audio and video recordings capture the same show, and seeing the fairly inert band on stage doesn’t help, especially since director Blue Leach, who also designs the art on R.E.M.’s behind-the-stage video screens, keeps them mostly in the dark. Unless you’re a diehard fan, wait for their new album in the spring, which the group are touting as a return to their early garage sound.
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