Floating out in the ether, all by its unmarked lonesome, is this resonant echo: R.E.M. at Moody Coliseum on November 18, 1987 -- a stop along The Work Tour in support of that year's Document, the band's fifth and final album for I.R.S. Records. I was a sophomore in college at the time, and R.E.M. was The College Band without which college radio would have consisted of nothing but static, Smiths and Replacements songs. But Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry, supported on that tour by the db's, didn't play my college town; the band skipped right over Austin on the way to College Station and Houston. If the fog of collegiate memory serves, that perceived slight broke more than a few hearts on the University of Texas campus and around The Daily Texan's entertainment office; I mean, really ... A&M and SMU? R.E.M., which had once opened for The Judy's at the long-gone Club Foot, wouldn't step foot in Austin again till a March 21, 1989, show at the Erwin Center.
So here, for those who missed it and those who fortunate enough to pay a mere $16 for seventh-row seats, is the show to end all shows, at least at the time -- a set list that ranged from Murmur ('Moral Kiosk") to almost the entirety of Document (which remains both the commercial breakthrough and the artist highlight, though Out of Time would later have something to say about that) to songs that would appear on Green one year later ("Orange Crush," "Pop Song 89") to a slew of covers, ranging from but not limited to Gang of Four's "What We All Want, Syd Barrett's "Dark Globe" and the show-closing "After Hours" by the Velvet Underground.
Also contained herein: the giddily chatty Michael Stipe's Hilltop dedication of "Exhuming McCarthy" to Mustangs past and present. "This is a really special song with an introduction on this evening, a special song which is sent out a very special group of people, that is to say the graduates of the fine Southern Methodist University. This goes out to the graduates of the past and the graduates of the near future." So, Dad, this one's for you.
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