R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck made an uncommon small club appearance last night (March 12) at New York's Mercury Lounge, playing bass with his colleagues in the Minus 5, a collective of noted Seattle mu

R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck made an uncommon small club appearance last night (March 12) at New York's Mercury Lounge, playing bass with his colleagues in the Minus 5, a collective of noted Seattle musicians, which has released a series of albums since 1993. The group, led by frequent R.E.M. sideman Scott McCaughey, released the album "Let the War Against Music Begin" last month via Mammoth.

Augmented by Posies principal Ken Stringfellow on keyboards and vocals, the group powered through nearly 30 songs of catchy, retro-leaning rock. Among the highlights were a cover of the Nightcrawlers' 1965 favorite "Little Black Egg," the first-ever rendition of new album track "Got You," and the Stringfellow-sung Bee Gees oldie "Massachusetts." McCaughey kept the crowd in good spirits, sipping from a bottle of bourbon and promising to only play "good songs."

The set wound down with rollicking covers of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio" and Young's own "Don't Be Denied." The Minus 5 will perform tonight (March 13) on NBC's "Late Night With Conan O'Brien," and has two more shows scheduled: March 31 with Guided By Voices in Portland, Ore., and April 4 with the newly reunited Soft Boys in Seattle.

Before playing, Buck took time out to gush to Billboard.com about R.E.M.'s upcoming album "Reveal," due May 15 on Warner Bros. "It may be the best thing we've ever done," he enthused. "If not, it's close. It's just a great collection of songs." Buck begged off from confirming that the band will not tour in support of "Reveal," saying that they would be doing "some shows -- but we don't know where yet."

As reported yesterday, snippets of first single "Imitation Of Life" are now available from well-regarded R.E.M. fan site Murmurs.com.