It's shaping up to be a banner week for the original four members of R.E.M., who have reconvened to rehearse for a three-song performance at their Saturday (Sept. 16) induction into the Georgia Music
It's shaping up to be a banner week for the original four members of R.E.M., who have reconvened to rehearse for a three-song performance at their Saturday (Sept. 16) induction into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
In addition to hitting an Athens, Ga., studio with producer David Barbe to record a song for an as-yet-unannounced purpose, the foursome turned up last night at the city's venerable 40-Watt Club to join several local acts in performances of R.E.M. classics.
While there, vocalist Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry also took the stage themselves to perform "Begin the Begin" and "So. Central Rain." Berry retired from R.E.M. in 1997 and has made only a handful of live appearances with his bandmates since then.
Although he only had a few hours to rehearse, Drive-By Truckers frontman Patterson Hood assembled a band to cover "So. Central Rain," "Burning Hell," "Second Guessing," "Belong" (with Mills on vocals) and "Don't Go Back to Rockville," which featured contributions from Mills, Buck and R.E.M. sideman Scott McCaughey.
"My wife is so patient -- she deserves to be sainted. I've been on the road, we're leaving for another tour in a few days, I get into town and I'm like, 'Um, I have to go practice a bunch of R.E.M. covers,'" Hood tells Billboard.com with a laugh. "We did that, but I woke up yesterday thinking we were really in trouble, so we did a last-second run-through before we got up there."
The evening also boasted performances from Pylon lead singer Vanessa Briscoe Hay, Bain Mattox, Five Eight and the Modern Skirts, among others. Most of the artists, including R.E.M., were onstage for a finale of "It's the End of the World As We Know (And I Feel Fine)." However, Berry slipped out early to return to the studio for additional work on the track R.E.M. recorded.
"That was probably one of the most fun nights I've ever had," Hood says. "I've lived in Athens for 13 years and for the four of them to turn up at the 40-Watt made it extra special. That's like a second home for everybody in this music community."