R.E.M. partially reunite in Athens
Singer Michael Stipe was present but opted out of performing during Peter Buck solo show
By Ryan Reed
R.E.M. nearly reunited Nov. 14 during a Peter Buck solo show at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia. The guitarist was accompanied by two of his former bandmates, drummer Bill Berry and bassist Mike Mills, during a performance of the band's twangy 1984 track "(Don't Go Back to) Rockville."
Of course, this hometown gig doesn't qualify as a true reunion since it didn't include frontman Michael Stipe, who was spotted in the crowd watching his former bandmates, according to Slicing Up Eyeballs.
R.E.M.'s last album, Collapse Into Now, was released back in 2011. The band didn't tour behind the LP, and seven months after its release, they announced their breakup. "As lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band," they wrote in an official statement. "We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished."
Back in May, Mills spoke with Rolling Stone about the odds of a full-fledged R.E.M. reunion, and his forecast was decidedly cloudy. "We said we're done and we're done," he said. "If we honestly thought there was a chance of a reunion tour, we might have said so at the time."
However, he did mention that the break-up wasn't based on animosity, insisting that he and his former bandmates are still good friends. "There were no real factors other than deciding it was time to break up," he said. "There's no drug abuse. There's no in-fighting. There's no legal problems. It was time to break up. That's never really been done before. The idea of breaking up and not reforming for a reunion tour is kind of attractive to us. I doubt you'll see us touring as R.E.M. again."
While Mills remained bleak about the odds of a legitimate reunion tour, he did foreshadow the quasi-reunion that took place in Athens.
"On the other hand, I just played with Peter [Buck] in New York City the other night, so fun things do happen," he said.
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When most of The Band reunited to tour in the 80's, Robbie Robertson declined to join. "To come out a few years later (after "The Last Waltz") and say, 'Just kidding.'..I mean, that's my idea of horrible!" R.E.M. just called it quits. Stipe completing the quartet at this point in time would have been awkward. There should be occasional get-togethers down the line, but in R.E.M.'s case, if there's no point in going beyond that, so be it. It was noteworthy enough that Bill Berry was there.
I wonder if U2 will soon follow suit now that their longtime manager retired.
That was killer, alright. From when Peter Buck experimented with facial hair.
Also, there are other bands that have amicably parted ways. The Country duo Brooks & Dunn parted ways amicably for the same reason. They had been together for a long time and decided that it was time to do other things.
Why would a band break up if they are still making money and getting along? Why would Michael Stipe be in the audience and not even make a cameo appearance on stage? REM obviously aren't 'Shiny Happy People' at all!
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