Ok, so you can see that I am not a kid. In fact, I have 4 kids of my own. But this past weekend, I acted like one- and it was fantastic! My husband and I are huge REM fans. I am more fanatical than Mike, but he loves to remind me that he saw them play at the local roller rink back in 1984, which apparently proves he is a bigger fan than me (not really- I was 12 at the time). Anyway, since the Monster tour in '96 or so, each time REM came through New York, we have made our way to a show, and loved every minute. We revel in their new releases, knowing that a live show is sure to follow at some point. Each tour we say, 'you know we really should travel and see them play another hsow outside of NY'. Until this year, we didn't follow through on our 'groupie' fantasy. When the dates were announced a few months ago, our planning began. We got tickets to three shows.
Our weekend began last Friday dropping our youngest daughter off for her very last day of preschool. I managed to wipe away the tears as we hopped aboard the Port Jeff ferry headed to Boston via Bridgeport, CT. Yes, I did opt to have my Dad pick her up on a very important day, and yes, I did feel guilty... but we're talking REM. While on the ferry half way across the Long Island Sound, my husband got a message from the school nurse- our son had a fever of 102 and had to be picked up. My dad to the rescue again, and yes, more guilt. We arrived in Bridgeport and found our way to the hotel near the Tweeter Center in Massachusettes, all the while playing REM cd's old and new, and remembering the concerts and chance encounters with band members. It was a fun, relaxing trip with the obligatory stop at Cracker Barrel.
When we arrived at the venue- which strangely reminded me of a theme park, I felt like I walked into Bush Gardens- the place was packed and I was astonished at the demographics of the crowd. Mike and I had been joking about how we're too old to be doing such a thing, following a band around the northeast, acting like teens. But we were certainly not the oldest in the bunch. I was thrilled to see several older women, fully grey and loving life at the show dancing and carrying on. My husband pointed to one woman near the front row and said "that's you in 20 years". God I hope so. She sat by herself and was clearly enjoying every minute of the experience.
The show as amazing. The two opening bands were outstanding, and then the moment I had waited nearly 4 years for- REM took the stage. The setlist was amazing, packed with little gems we had been hoping for, and a new acoustic twist on "Let Me In" which was beautiful. As the show went on, I couldn't stop smiling, the band sounded better than ever and was clearly having a very good time. Peter Buck was jumping high and rocking out, and Mike Mills was dancing and laughing out loud. Michael Stipe was right on. His performance throughout the night left me in awe- his voice seems stronger, and he moves as if he were a kid himself. The band was funny, generous and gracious all night long. It was well worth the trip, the guilt and the time away from home.
The reality is I am only 36, and there is nothing wrong with adults having a good time, too. It is a lesson REM has helped me learn, and if you read on, you'll see that the weekend didn't stop at the Tweeter Center!