Live at the Olympia Live
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REM Live At The Olympia (2009 UK 2-CD album set featuring 39 songs from their acclaimed 2007 working rehearsals in Dublin Ireland. R.E.M. set up camp at the venerable Olympia Theatre in Irelands capital city and tested new material over fivenights before passionate capacity crowds. Live At The Olympia gives fans an opportunity to hear those songs at their earliest stages of development. In addition to the new material the band also served up twenty-nine other songs spanningtheir entire career all of which can be found on this album picture booklet containing extensive liner notes written by Andy Gill)
Two years ago REM released REM Live, featuring recordings from their performance at Dublin’s Point Theatre in 2005. It was a does-what-it-says-on-the-tin affair: REM, live, on CD (and DVD). Live at the Olympia is more of the same, essentially, even down to the country in question: like its predecessor, this was recorded in Ireland, albeit at the capital’s Olympia Theatre. Again: it’s exactly what it promises to be.
So why bother with another live album, released so soon after the last, and most likely captured before the same crowd? The reason here is purely down to the tracklisting – while REM Live focused on the Athens, Georgia band’s hit singles and best-selling albums, this collection is a partial exhumation of early material, the band delving back as far as their 1982 EP Chronic Town. As such this will serve as an entry point into REM’s expansive pre-Automatic for the People catalogue for many fans – there is only one song from Automatic…, out of 39, but an intentions-signalling five from both second album Reckoning and third Fables of the Reconstruction. There’s even a brace from 83’s debut long-player, Murmur.
In short, this is a celebration of the career of one of the greatest rock groups America has ever produced. It showcases their quality control wonderfully, picking selections from various eras which never seem out of place. While Drive is very much from the well-known camp, as it shakes to a close – via a Michael Stipe lyrical misstep: “Oh whoops!” – and leads to “very old song” Feeling Gravitys Pull, from Fables…, it doesn’t feel like the band has just rewound several years. They’re having too much fun, and there’s never the sense that they’re exposing their roots purely for the sake of it, as the crowd’s enthusiastic reception to relative unknowns is audible evidence of.
The sound quality is, as you’d expect given the band in question, exceptionally crisp, with post-production work coming from Jacknife Lee, on board for REM’s last studio album, 2008’s Accelerate. Eight songs from said collection make the Live at the Olympia cut, performed prior to their release of course, but such is the abundance of 1980s material that this has to be seen as a valuable reminder of REM’s impressive past as much as a document of their present. Think of it as an apposite companion to both their Eponymous and In Time best-of collections. --Mike Diver
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Top Customer Reviews
This set features every song played over the residency. It proves an intriguing insite into songs that would end up on Accelerate: the likes of Houston, Living Well Is The Best Revenge and Mr Richards seemed very complete. The merits of Man-Sized Wreath were debated on stage by Stipe and Mills (Stipe: This next new song will not be on the next record. - Ironic as I've heard it's now one of his favourites), Disguised was a very embrionic version of what would become Supernatural Superserious, whereas On The Fly and Staring Down The Barrel Of The Middle Distance never made it to the record (though I thought the latter sounded like it had a lot to offer).
The rest of the set reads like an alternative Best Of collection: Kohoutek (Peter Buck whispers to Stipe beforehand "We should apologise before this, this is going to be a mess"), So. Central Rain , Electrolite and Gardening At Night to name but a few, all sounded excellent. Long forgotten IRS era cutting Romance even got a play. Heck, they did a version of The Worst Joke Ever and even that sounded brilliant (on Around The Sun it just sounded dull).
The real little gems that make this album are the little errors the band make on occasion (hey they warn you from the off "This is not a show!") and the audience interaction.Read more ›
Over five nights in Dublin, R.E.M broke the mould of playing live to 'roadtest' new material and exhume old, lesser known songs in what they called 'live rehearsals'. Stripped of the stadium moves, huge video screens, and the need to play The Big Hits, R.E.M. Also slimmed down their lineup to the five-man-configuration of the late Eighties, ditched all the big numbers, played songs live for the first time in a quarter century if ever, and premiered eleven new numbers. Featuring every song played over the five shows, "Live At The Olympia" is one of the rarest live albums : it has an artistically valid reason to exist. At 39 songs and 150 minutes it's not for the faint of heart, nor any of you in a hurry. There's no sign of "Man On The Moon", "Losing My Religion", "The Great Beyond", "Whats The Frequency Kenneth", "Imitation Of Life", "The One I Love", "It's The End of The World As We Know It", or "Everybody Hurts".Read more ›
Secondly, the DVD I thought was going to be basically a live video of the performances, but it's more of an art film and features only a selection of the songs performed; some not in full and others together in a medley. The cameras show little of the band performing and more of the entire venue.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliant album had the good fortune to see REM a few times .This album has made me revisit there later albums and appreciate what a great band they were !!Published 8 months ago by Amazon Customer
I first got into REM in 1989 via "Green", hooked by the melodies and counterpoint vocal harmonies. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Nick Lincoln
A nice addition to my collection of REM material, complementing the studio albums and reminding me of how good a live band they were. Read morePublished on 8 Jan. 2012 by M. Yaxley
this makes me remember how good rem were, a great live cd, leaves out the obvious stuff ive heard a million times. great sound and great songs. Read morePublished on 10 Jan. 2011 by P. Storey
Just a quicky, phnar phnar. I've loved REM since the mid eighties but have found recent albums a bit too cluttered, over thought and dripping with production. Read morePublished on 9 Sept. 2010 by F. Sumthin
I was at the Sunday night concert of these shows and it was fantastic. Which other band outs on something like this for their fans? Read morePublished on 15 Jun. 2010 by helen.remfan
I have always considered myself an REM fan, until now that is. I danced (badly)to them in my clubbing days, own half a dozen of their albums, seen and enjoyed them perform live in... Read morePublished on 12 May 2010 by Opinionated 1