Let me just start off by saying: the audience cheered for Peter Buck's mandolin.
I'm not kidding you. I realize that much of it probably had to do with the fact that it made its primary appearance for the much loved solo in "Losing My Religion," but still. We cheered for a small stringed instrument. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.
Much of my experience of the concert was colored by the fact that our seats were way the hell up in the nosebleeds. From that height, sitting among rows and rows of such exquisitely polite, well-behaved folks, it felt like I was passively consuming a spectacle rather than actively participating in a musical experience. And not only that--except for a few rare moments when some sort of unexpected energy would flicker and electrify the air, I didn't feel . . . moved. And not that every show I go to has to blow my mind or change my life, but it just would have been nice if everything didn't feel so clean and rehearsed. The musicianship was a little too impeccable, you know? It's not like I wanted someone to fuck up, either, though. I just wanted to feel like I was witnessing something unique. Something that was just for us, on just that night. And maybe something unique was happening on the floor that I couldn't feel up there where the sound quality wasn't much different than turning up my stereo a little louder than usual and where the intoxicating vertigo compensated for the fact that I was in no mood to shell out for sweet-smelling beer in plastic cups. **shrug**
I hate having to be so harsh, especially considering how out-of-control hot Michael Stipe is. That rock star energy, those fantastically sexy, snakelike origami poses, the reedy caterwauling about Andy Kaufman and the one he's left behind. En fuego, baby.
And though yes, I'm voting for Kerry on November 2, blah, blah, blah, there was the asshole, punk rock part of me that very badly wanted to start chanting pro-Bush slogans in the middle of the crowd just to watch everyone's heads explode.