R.E.M played the first live show in their ATHENS, GEORGIA hometown in almost eight years on Sunday (October 22).
The band played a three-song set on the steps of the County Courthouse during a benefit for local charity Land Aid.
The organisation raises awareness for issues such as suburban sprawl and environmental pollution in the Athens area.
Following the songs, which aside from R.E.M standards ‘Fall On Me’ and ‘Losing My Religion’ included frontman Michael Stipe performing brand new track ‘I’ve Been High’, a solo number likely to feature on the group’s forthcoming new album, Stipe took the microphone to briefly address the crowd.
“Obviously we consider Athens to be a very special town, and most of us want to keep it that way,” he said. “We came here tonight to show our solidarity with everyone here. We all know Athens is going to grow. There’s a line in the song ‘Fall On Me’ about progress and foresight. And that’s really what this is about. Progress is not a bad thing. But it seems to me that a lot of people in power have one question, ‘How can the maximum dollars be squeezed out of every acre of land?’
The ever-politicised singer went on to tell the audience of around 1,000 to demand accountability from their local elected representatives, to promote “smart growth” of the town and to keep the local area a “positive community”.
R.E.M release their 12th studio album, the follow-up to 1998’s ‘Up’ during spring 2001.