The band preview new material in Austin
R.E.M frontman Michael Stipe paid tribute to Heath Ledger during the band’s rousing set at South by Southwest tonight (March 12).
Stipe dedicated the new song ‘Until The Day Is Done’ to the actor, who passed away in January.
“This is dedicated to Heath Ledger, who loved this song,” he said, ending the song by shouting, “Goodbye Heath, we loved you!”
During their 90-minute set at Stubb’s Bar-B-Q, the veteran Athens rockers previewed nearly every song from their forthcoming album ‘Accelerate’, which is due out in April.
They began the night by launching into the first two songs off the album, ‘Living Well Is The Best Revenge’ and ‘Man Sized Wreath’.
“We’re gonna do a bunch of new songs and we hope that you like them,” Stipe told the packed house. “The good news is most of them are under two-and-a-half minutes so if you don’t like them you can have a pee break or grab a beer,” he quipped.
Looking dapper in a black suit and green scarf, Stipe interacted with the adoring crowd throughout the night, calling out to friends in the audience and praising Austin for supporting US presidential candidate Barack Obama.
R.E.M also played some older tunes, including ‘Fall On Me’, ‘Electrolite’ and 2000 hit single ‘The Great Beyond’, which Stipe said he chose to add to their setlist even though the band hadn’t rehearsed it in a couple of years.
While introducing a trio of politically charged new tunes, Stipe said, “I’m terrified at how history will look back at the overreacting of the current administration to 9/11. We have a little less than two years to make something more of this decade,” and the crowd cheered loudly in response.
‘Living Well Is The Best Revenge’
‘Man Sized Wreath’
‘Auctioneer (Another Engine)’
‘Fall On Me’
‘The Great Beyond’
‘Until The Day Is Done’
‘Horse To Water’
‘Imitation Of Life’
‘I’m Gonna DJ’
‘Man On The Moon’