REM in Hyde Park

Along with several billion other people, saw REM in Hyde Park on the weekend, and I'm sure it comes as no great surprise for me to say they were utterly fantastic. I saw them a few years ago on the Up tour, and the mood then was very different – they were still struggling to find their way after Bill Berry's departure. This time though, they were confident and uplifting. Stipe's current superhero blue mask thing is rather fitting – his current performance persona is as powerful and alluring as any of Bowie's or Bono's guises. He had us eating out of his hand, even during some of the less well-known songs.

The highlight of the day was without a doubt the sudden arrival of Patti Smith for E-Bow The Letter. She seemed a bit nervous – has she ever seen an audience of this size? – but that didn't detract at all from this rare airing of one of REM?s best songs. They played one new song – I'm Gonna DJ – which will hopefully appear on the next album. It's a lot more upbeat than most of Around The Sun (which I'm very slowly growing into), so judging by this they may be delivering a rockier record next time round.

Here's the full setlist:

  • Bad Day
  • What's The Frequency Kenneth?
  • The One I Love
  • Drive
  • The Outsiders
  • Sitting Still
  • Wanderlust
  • Animal
  • Leaving New York
  • Everybody Hurts
  • Electron Blue
  • Me In Honey
  • Electrolite
  • So Fast So Numb
  • E-Bow The Letter
  • Final Straw
  • Orange Crush
  • Walk Unafraid
  • Losing My Religion

Encore:

  • Imitation Of Life
  • The Great Beyond
  • Nightswimming
  • It's The End Of The World …
  • I'm Gonna DJ
  • Man On The Moon

In case any of you had any doubts (and shame on you if you did), this concert - this whole tour in fact — proves that REM are still the best band in the world.