R. E. M. Wows Them During First "Aneurysm '95 Tour" Date

"How are you doin'," Michael Stipe said to R.E.M. drummer Bill Berry

during R.E.M.'s performance on May 15 at the Shoreline Amphitheater,

south of San Francisco. At which point Berry fell out of view, in a

mock collapse. It was the group's way of making light of the

life-threatening ruptured aneurysm that forced them to cut short their

European tour this past march. Earlier in the show, following the

third song ("Crush With Eyeliner"), Stipe had told the audience:

"Welcome to Aneurysm '95 tour. A big hand for Mr. Bill Berry."

Now, Berry popped back onto his seat and proceeded to drive the next

song with his forceful drumming­­further proof of his undiminished

abilities. The Shoreline show was the group's first US performance

in over five years. Additionally, it was the first post-brain surgery

show for the group, and specifically, for Berry. "I feel a big sigh of

relief," Berry told MTV after the show. "It hit me, you got through

it, my head doesn't hurt..."

Despite on-and-off torrential rains that doused the crowd in the lawn

"seats," R.E.M. left most of the fans (possibly all of them) happy and

satisfied. The two-hour set, like the shows in Australia reported on

by ATN this past January and February, was filled with material from

Monster and Automatic For The People, along with a

sprinkling of older numbers. "I thought we played pretty well," said a

happy Peter Buck after the show. "We didn't make any drastic errors,

and no one had any physical or mental collapses during the show."

The group rocked hard. And while it was clear that this was the first

night after three months of not performing­­there were a few tempo

problems for instance­­that's nit-picking. R.E.M. demonstrated that

neither Berry's illness nor a three month break has diluted their

rather amazing live show.

They kicked off the evening with "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?"

which was the same song they began their first Sydney, Australia show

with back in mid-January. From there, it was on to "Circus Envy,"

"Crush With Eyeliner," "South Central Rain" and on and on.

"This is a song we wrote last Thursday," said Stipe, introducing the

group's biggest hit, "Losing My Religion." "I hope you like it."

In addition to "Revolution," an unrecorded number debuted in

Australia, the one other new song was a hard rock anthem, "Departure,"

that sounded like an old Stooges song. "How do we sound?" Stipe asked

the audience at one point. "Are we sounding generally good? Or

sucking?"

Stipe's way of dealing with being Mr. MC­­he periodically commented

between songs­­was to make sarcastic and/or self-depreciating remarks.

To introduce "Departure" ­­a song no one in the audience had ever

heard­­he offered this: "You've probably heard this song a lot on the

radio. We feel obligated to play it because we're a big fucking rock

band now."

In addition to something less than 20,000 fans­­the next two night's

shows had sold out (40,000 tickets total), but the Monday night

performance, put on sale last, was just short of a sell-out­­attending

the concert were Buck's and Stipe's parents, and Berry's mother. All

four band members were clearly elated after the show. Recalling the

period immediately following Berry's illness, Stipe said, "For a

couple of days we didn't know if our friend was going to live. We

didn't know if he was going to have all his faculties, mental or

physical.....We could not have performed without Bill." Then, summing

up the drummer's importance to the quartet, Stipe said simply, "There

would not be R.E.M."