REM to rev up Bluesfest
By WILLOW ALIENTO
REM is one of those bands which have popped out more than one unforgettable anthem.
They are one of the biggest acts ever to appear at the Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival, with their Monday night headline appearance locked into their tour schedule since the start of this year.
Byron Bay is abuzz with music fans after a record-breaking 70,000 tickets were sold for the five-day event.
National media reported yesterday that the band has asked that money which would otherwise have been spent on their rider by the Bluesfest organisers be used to set up a stall for Amnesty International.
REM is on a national tour, with support act Little Birdy, which is taking in all capital cities.
The band started out in the 1980s. Back then Michael Stipes' distinctive vocals and lyrics with political overtones, and the band's use of acoustic instru- ments such as the mandolin, were a delightful contrast to the Stock Aitken Waterman and Euro-pop domination of the top 40.
Their first song to get airplay around the world was It's The End of the World As We Know It in 1987. A sleeper hit at first, it's still a song that gets an airing from time to time, and has featured on compilation albums for Greenpeace and other good causes.
This single was followed by This One Goes Out (to the one I love), which ushered in the band's era of massive international chart success, but also saw the end of their time as an independent act.
In 1988, the Green album came out, with its singles Orange Crush and Stand both getting massive airplay around Australia.
Since then, REM have moved from being an underground leftof-centre musical choice to sitting in the centre of the industry's attention.
It couldn't have happened to a nicer band.