REM at the ACC

Toronto - September 30, 2003

I'm a big REM fan. I got into them late - around 1996, I think it was, which would have made me about 15 at the time. The first album I got of theirs was Automatic for the People, but I guess that's no real surprise if you know that album at all. Since then I've got myself one of each album, with the exception of New Adventures In Hi-Fi. I didn't get it when it came out because I was just getting into REM, and I kept hearing people say NAIHF sucked. I know now that was just highly underrated when it came out - it's got some really cool tracks on it, like Leave - and so I'll probably buy it... or ask for it for Christmas.

Anyway, you don't really need this history stuff to check out my pictures here. REM played the ACC on their 2003 world tour, which was supposedly promoting their upcoming best-of album. Blah, I know, but at least they've got a real album coming out next year, and I think they've said they'll tour for that one too. The best-of only includes songs they've released with Warner, but the concert was mostly songs released from back in the good old days of IRS - a.k.a. the first 7 years or so of their music career. REM's good live anyway, but it was great to hear some of the old stuff getting played live, especially since the first time I saw them I didn't know all the songs they played. This time I did, and it rocked. : )

Blah blah blah. Here's the playlist:

main set
1. Begin the Begin
2. These Days
3. Maps and Legends
4. Drive
5. Animal
6. Fall on Me
7. Feeling Gravitys Pull
8. Bad Day
9. The One I Love
10. Beat a Drum
11. Everybody Hurts
12. I Believe
13. Electrolite
14. Losing My Religion
15. Find the River
16. She Just Wants to Be
17. Walk Unafraid
18. Man on the Moon

1. Nightswimming
2. Get Up
3. Sweetness Follows
4. Imitation of Life
5. It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)

... and here's the pictures.

Sparklehorse was the opener, and they were cool, but I didn't bother taking any pictures of them.

This is the stage once they'd cleared off and the stage crew had prepped the stage for REM. Those little red lights spell "LUV".

As you can see, we had crappy seats.

I hate the ACC. Stupid jacked up prices and bad seating. It might be good for sports, but for concerts it sucks ass.

You can't really see this too well... but I know what it is.

They started out with the obvious opener: Begin the Begin. You can see the vague outlines of Mike and Michael onstage, in the blindingly white part.

Mike's farthest from the camera, Michael's in the middle, and Peter's closest. You also can't really see them, but there's a drummer and an extra bassist there, too. The extra bassist is by Peter, although he stayed out of the spotlight for most of the show.

Anyway - good starter song. I'm sure it confused the hell out of the casual fans though.

Brian took this picture, I'm not sure why he took it on an angle but it turned out surprisingly clear. Seriously, you don't want to see the pictures I didn't post on this page. I thought about cropping this one but I kind of like it with the extra empty space.

I'm not sure what they're singing or whatever here, but you can clearly see the guys there on stage. The three main guys are where I said they were earlier. The human-shaped shadow on the close side of the stage is the extra bassist, Scott McCaughey of the Minus Five. The drummer is there too, in a beige hoodie; I believe his name is Bill.

We stopped taking pictures for a while, so we could sit back and enjoy the show. Also we noticed our pics weren't turning out so hot. But once they opened the curtains to reveal this backdrop, the camera came back out.

Here they're playing She Just Wants to Be, off their latest album, Reveal. Good tune, and they seem to enjoy playing it live.

Meanwhile, the audience sucked. Maybe it's because the band was playing what they felt like playing, rather than just the hits, and people didn't know the tunes. Maybe it's because the ACC blows goats. Maybe the audience was just stupid. I have my theories.

ALL blurriness in this picture is due to camera shakage. None of it is due to people dancing, or moving at all.

This, of course, is the back of the audience. Looking down on this I felt like a dictator watching an army march past me. Only they weren't marching. They were constrained by the rows of chairs. That's yet another reason the Molson Amphitheatre would have been so much better - there, you can "sit" on the lawn, which is basically like a big dancing party once the crowd gets going. Here... the crowd never got going properly. There was some momentum building during The One I Love, but then it totally died when they played Beat a Drum. Don't get me wrong, Beat a Drum is a good song. But it's not one they should have performed live.

Andy are you goofing on Elvis?

Michael Stipe doing his Elvis impression during Man on the Moon.

Hey, you can see the drummer in this pic.

Again, I'm not sure when exactly this was. I suspect it was taken during the break between Man on the Moon and the encore.

This is definitely part of the encore. I don't remember what song it was on, but at the end of one song, Mike and Peter got jamming a bit. Michael had been running around the stage dancing during the song, but he eventually got bored or tired or both and sat down on the stage. You can sort of see him there, at the front of the stage, in the middle.

There were birthdays to be celebrated!

Michael started out by saying hi to his sister, whose birthday it was that night, and who he said would be watching on the internet - the concert was being broadcast on remhq.

He went on to say that there were birthdays onstage too, that it was the drummer's birthday, and also that of a guy named Ray who was on the stage crew. Bill came out from behind the drums, and Ray was dragged out onstage in a headlock by another crew member.

They busted out a cake, and we all sang happy birthday. Michael asked each birthday boy to sing a verse on his own, and Bill obliged, but Ray pushed the mic away. Guess he didn't want to be in the spotlight so much. : )

The concert didn't end right there - they did finish with End of the World - but the camera went away after the birthday thing.

Brian had to run for a bus before the end of the song, but he says he was still in the building when it finished. I stayed till the end of course, but as soon as the guys left the stage I bolted, hoping to get to the subway before the crowd hit.

So yeah, I enjoyed the concert, and I don't regret going at all, although I do wish the audience hadn't sucked so badly. It was distracting.

Hopefully next time REM's in town I get some better seats!! : )

So, that's it. You can go back to the scrapbook or back to the menu or get lost. Your choice!

This page added on October 15, 2003.