R.E.M. - R.E.M. Live From Austin, TX (DVD)

Paul Cook 06/11/2010

Rating: 4/5

A majority of live performance DVDs tend to focus on the scale and grandeur of a show. Tens of thousands of people surging to and fro at a festival or an electrifying pyrotechnics display. These are in abundance at the moment but what is a rare and special treat for any fan is to enjoy a band or artist in an intimate and landmark setting. R.E.M.: Live from Austin, TX is one such gem.

Performing on the now-legendary 35 year old Austin City Limits, (effectively Jools Holland USA) the longest running live music show in the US, R.E.M. give 350 fans an unforgettable show. The DVD features an extended, full-show tracklisting of seventeen songs, half classics and half from latest album Accelerate.

For fans of R.E.M.'s previous thirteen albums there is sufficient material to please a majority although the omission of Daysleeper and Everybody Hurts from the show's performance is a little disappointing. Of the final trio of songs the fantastically moody Until the Day is Done, the band's last single, is sandwiched between undeniably classic R.E.M. tracks Imitation of Life and Man on the Moon.

It's a brilliant finale to a landmark show. The gentle, thoughtfulness of Until the Day is Done lulls you into thinking this is the band's sign-off, before bringing a crowd-pleasing crescendo in the form of Man on the Moon to say goodnight in style.

The performance is made even more special by the humbled, sincere genuinely grateful Michael Stipe thanks the audience and the Austin City Limits show for having them.

Whilst nine of the eleven tracks that comprise Accelerate feature in the band's set list leaving just eight spots for more familiar songs, the performance feels perfectly balanced. The latter half of the show, which features Bad Day, Losing My Religion, Imitation of Life and Man on the Moon almost one after another, is undoubtedly the strongest half but I feel compelled to go out and by Accelerate based on the quality of the other material.

With Live from Austin, TX R.E.M. prove that they are still very much one of the best bands around for quality and originality and always have been.