Lightning, evacuations, phone calls to the police and more…all at the R.E.M. show at Jones Beach Theatre! :D
We’d started our day by going out to see R’s family for Father’s Day. They live allll the way out in Greenport, Long Island — almost at the North tip of the Island — so we had quite a bit of driving to do to get to the R.E.M. show. I was looking forward to catching some of the National — I also wanted to see Modest Mouse, since I’d heard so much about them — so we hauled out.
We ultimately caught some of the National…from what I heard, they’re definitely influenced by Joy Division. :D Modest Mouse caught my ear a little more, although their sound setup seemed a little distorted. Not sure if it was from being the opening band, or if they rushed things, since by then everyone could see the rain coming in. I will definitely be purchasing some Modest Mouse. :)
There was flickering sky lightning all throughout Modest Mouse’s set, and the sky kept getting grayer…and grayer…to the point where I left before the set was over to get Rob and I some rain ponchos. Came back just as the sky was opening up and caught another song or two…until — CRACK!!! — massive lightning bolt hit somewhere nearby. The band played for another two seconds, until their singer said, “We’re sorry, we’re off,” and an announcement came over the P.A. that we needed to leave the amphitheater and take shelter.
Look, everyone…Poncho Nation!
What we didn’t know was that lightning had HIT the theater, and that’s why they moved us on out. They wound up calling a rain delay — we basically hung out for about an hour, and then they let us back into the theater. There was still some lightning — we could see bolts — but no thunder, just lots of rain. And some more rain. Did I mention rain?
The band came out around 10:30 or so, after many mops of the stage, and played an AMAZING show. Just amazing. They started with Creedence’s “Have you ever seen the rain?” (just LOOK at the rain, folks), followed by “South Central Rain” — an ongoing joke throughout the night was that they weren’t going to play “I’ll take the rain” because, according to Michael Stipe, “It’s plodding. And it’s seven minutes long. Trust me, you DON’T want to hear that song right now!”
I really can’t get over what a great set it was. Michael Stipe usually does most of the talking, but last night he was positively CHATTY. :D And he didn’t wear his suit! “I’m not wearing my suit tonight, for the first time on the tour…if you saw me walking down Sixth Avenue, this is what it would look like.” He also apologized in advance if “any of us fall on our asses, you all get to say, ‘I told you so!’ Wanna practice? One…two…three…” Obama t-shirts were thrown, for the folks that didn’t look like “garbage bags” — which is basically what the $5 Jones Beach poncho is… :D
The band played a good mix of songs from their new album, “Accelerate,” and older songs — much older songs. Songs from 1982, 1986…I was blown away. And I was happy that R got to see that show — his first R.E.M. show was in 2004, when they played Madison Square Garden the day after the presidential election. The band had worked very hard on the “Vote for change” tour, and they seemed really crushed by the election results. It was not a high-energy show, the band didn’t seem happy, and “Around the Sun” was such a mellow album to begin with…it wasn’t what I would have chosen for R’s first show. Last night’s show MORE than made up for that.
What was the best is that both Michael Stipe and Mike Mills weren’t afraid of getting wet. They did NOT stay under the stage overhang — both of them were out and about, getting soaked like the rest of us. I’m not as sure about Peter Buck, but he’s always pretty quiet. R observed, “It’s weird, Mike Mills acts more like the lead guitarist, bopping all over the place. Peter Buck acts like the bassist, he’s pretty mellow and just hangs out.” And ya know, it’s TRUE. I actually think Peter Buck has gotten more quiet, onstage at least, as the years have gone on…
The band dispensed with the encore formalities and just played straight through. “Okay, now pretend that the lights have gone out, and everyone’s clapping and it was really dramatic and that we’ve just come back onstage and now we’re gonna play our encore!” They did play one extra song, which turned out to be “End of the World as We Know It” — I’d love to know who asked, “Uh, how does this start?” They swore it was unrehearsed, and yeah, the ending was a bit of a trainwreck. Special, since apparently that song’s been dropped from their set list, at least for now.
One great moment for me was, “And here’s Johnny Marr on Richenbacher!” as the band swung into “Don’t fall on me.” SQUEEEEEEE… And they played an acoustic version of “Let me in” that was just chilling.
And then…the drive home back to Manhattan. It took us about two hours to make it home — it should have taken us about an hour. Traffic was horrible, parts of the L.I.E. and Grand Central Parkway had flooded out — at one point, the Grand Central was down to one lane as you drove under an overpass — the rest of it looked to be about knee-deep. The worst, though, was right outside of LaGuardia Airport. Traffic had eased, it was still raining, and all of a sudden — in the center lane of the Grand Central Parkway — a black car, parked, NO LIGHTS. We didn’t see it until it was almost too late. R braked (wet pavement, remember) and swerved — happily, there was no one in the other lane. We were fine, the car was fine, but we were both really shaken and I called the cops — if we almost hit it, there’s no way someone else wouldn’t have, too. But seriously — we came within a hair of an accident. Not good, not good at all.
10,000 style points to Rob, for sticking through that show. :) We were still pretty damned wet when we got home, and my shoes may never recover! And, yes, I’m still “squeeing” about it today!
(#remjones — trying to include blog link.)