Playing all but two tracks from Accelerate (the absentees being Mr Richards and Sing For The Submarine), with classic REM mixed in. The ever haunting Drive, Losing My Religion, Man On The Moon, alongside the earlier So, Central Rain, and Fall On Me, measure out REM’s well established talent for folk-rock, acoustic-based ballads and often cryptic lyrics (nothing here from Monster).
These songs give context to the rockier, shorter, Accelerate tracks, in particular Supernatural Superserious, about “a teenage séance gone horribly wrong,” Horse To Water and I’m Gonna DJ (“at the end of the world,” Stipe quips. “Death is pretty final. I’m collecting vinyl”).
Arguably, it’s only been in the past few years or so that REM have made good ground along the road to consolidating their identity as a three piece. There is a sense of direction, currently on show in the form of their latest album Collapse Into Now, that was emerging withAccelerate.
Live From Texas is a well-timed reminder of what an important band REM has been and a glimpse into what still can be. The jury is still out on whether REM’s salad days are behind them or whether their best is yet to come. Although Stipe has a few run-ins with vocal pitch along the way and, somewhat typical of television studio sets, it’s not the most visually exciting of events, this concert is nevertheless a rare treat (albeit without DVD extras).