Revealing plugR.E.M. on Yonge Street, May 17. Tickets: free. Attendance: 20,000. Rating: NNN
the big question coming out of
Thursday's free R.E.M. concert up the gut of Yonge Street: Doesn't anyone work during the day any more?
An hour after the group began its noontime show, there were still more than 15,000 people crammed into the one-block impromptu concert hall, everyone from suit-wearing business types chatting on cellphones to hippie beardos and their interpretive dancing.
There was something distinctly summery and un-Torontonian about the outdoor show, blocking traffic and stopping construction of the new parking garage. Even a steady rain couldn't clear the streets.
For their part, the members of R.E.M. seemed up for the promotional show, even if it meant getting out of bed early and being threatened with electrocution. Rail-thin singer Michael Stipe did his gyrating best, reading lyrics for new songs off a Teleprompter and cracking wise with the fans, while the rest of the band sounded remarkably tight, especially for a group that's not currently on the road.
Perhaps if they were playing for paying fans rather than free spectators, R.E.M. would have served up a more interesting song list. Making people stand in the rain through mid- tempo song after mid-tempo song from your dreary new Reveal album, even on a promo trip, isn't exactly charitable.
The handful of hits played at the end of the set were worth waiting for, but a band as experienced as R.E.M. should know better.MG