R.E.M asks What’s The Frequency Thunder Bay?

November 14 2004/R.E.M/Charlie Mars/Fort William Gardens/Tbay

Yep, you read that right, those cool cats from Athens Georgia make a pit stop in Tbay as there plugging there current release Around The Sun. I do know that some of the proceeds of this show went towards an AIDS fundraiser! So it’s for a good cause and I do believe that it was a couple of guys here in Thunder Bay that pushed REMs management to get them to make a stop here! I don’t know the full story but good on those fellas for believing in a cause and getting a top band like REM to stop in!

You see like I have mentioned in earlier reviews Tbay gets bands here once the band’s star or the gold and platinum albums stop coming in other words when a band is flatlining they will show up here and play our shitty facility 1500 seater(sorry folks no publicity for that dump!) or play the Fort William Gardens which is a real old dump of a hockey barn but I will give it its due….it’s the Gardens man!

Hell, AC/DC played the Gardens back in July 1980 which was Brian Johnsons 12th Live show with boys. They never came back.

The only two bands that come to my mind in the rock vein that showed up here when they were current and played the Gardens were Skid Row(June1992) and the Black Crowes (April 1993) both shows are reviewed here at Arena Rock (cheap plug)…

Of course, we get sap Canadian acts like Theory of ChadKrogerman I mean I wish bands like these would just fuck off and get day jobs but yeah ……

REM I guess in 2004 was still big business in Europe and a little less so in North America but who cares there playing Tbay so myself and my wife got tickets and off to the show we went!

Some solo dude named Charlie Mars opened the proceedings and the crowd was polite, to say the least. Not my deal but hey give Charlie his due he’s trying to make a Livin…..

So after the typical change over it’s like holy shit it’s REM and there’s Micheal Stipe with his makeup on standing there in the middle of the stage opening with Around The Sun with just the keyboards and Stipe has his ever-trusty music stand beside him and then Bam into one of my favs with Finest Worksong with Mike Mills doing those backing vocals and bass and there’s Peter Buck and his Rickenbacher just giving it! What a great song man! Your Finest Hooooooour!

For the die-hards, it’s Begin The Begin and The Wakeup Bomb and the thing I notice is the Gardens crowd is lame-o! Like WTF up people it’s REM it’s 2004 and they are never coming back to Tbay !

Somebody Get Me A Doctor(ha) the crowd at the Fort William Gardens has flatlined! Crazy but Ummm yeah I guess most people are shocked that REM did show up to our city so I guess I can’t really blame the crowd too much.

So more old school REM is played Cuyahoga, followed by High-Speed Train and one of the newer(at the time) tracks Imitation Of Life which is a great song and So Fast, So Numb is up next and than a newie Around The Sun track Leaving New York.

Probably my fave REM album is Monster and they crank out Star 69! I Wanted To Be Wrong was played and then it’s off to Document and people at the Gardens come out of there self-induced coma when The One I love is played! Finally, Tbay is awake! It only took 13 tracks played live to Murmur(ha)  response!

Losing My Religion also gets the crowd moving and bobbing but Peter Bucks mandolin you can not hear as something is wrong with his Amps and he’s strumming but all you hear is bass/drums/vocals and the other backing dude strumming acoustic….by the next track all is well but Buck looks pissed!

Walk Unafraid and Life And How To Live It is done as well and hey now we’re back to Monster with What’s The Frequency Kenneth? Man, I love the guitar and Bass on this and I recall during the chorus the use of strobe lights ….great track!

REM split the stage and come back and for the encore bash out Sweetness Follows/Permanent Vacation/I’m Gonna DJ and the final singalong with Man On The Moon and all is well at the Fort William Gardens!

REM is a band I’m glad I saw as I knew at the time they would never come back here it was like a once in a lifetime appearance. I mean this was a good few years before they officially packed it in but so what they played Tbay!

What is funnier is that the couple next to us drove up from Minneapolis as they told me and Sue (my wife ) that REM wasn’t playing there on the Around The Sun tour! I think they were in shock where they were to see there favorite band!

Once again congrats to the two local fellows that got this show to Tbay! I salute yous……the other thing which was kinda brutal was this show did not sell out it was close I think short of 4,000! I mean that’s the problem with Tbay I had heard people griping about paying either $50 or $60 (PETER) bucks to see REM here, like are you fuckin kidding me?! Two local guys stick their necks out bring the band here and people bitch about it?!

Yeah go back and cheer on Theory of Chad Krogerman if Ya want next time they come to town ..leave me alone……




23 thoughts on “R.E.M asks What’s The Frequency Thunder Bay?”

    1. That’s why I went Aaron..i knew it would be my only chance and thnks to those two fellas from Tbay for doing that! …whoever and wherever they are! Kudos!


  1. I hate when crowds only wake up for the hits. Not on the same scale, I went to see an excellent Tom Cochrane show years ago, and the crowd paid almost no attention, but then they broke into Life Is A Highway and I almost got crushed by all the a-holes pushing to the front. As if getting closer to the stage would make it better? Or louder? I don’t understand the need. Anyway, after that song, they all faded away again. So f-in stupid.

    i can only imagine the R.E.M. show was better than most of those people would see in ages, and they couldn’t be arsed? Dummies.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I regret not going to this show. But we had a small baby and REM wasn’t a priority at the time. You missed one big band who came to Tbay…. Pearl Jam! The came in 05 so not at the height of the grunge fad but this band still sells out major venues all over the world. Anyway, good review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yep you JAMHEAD u! You do have the right to bug me about this one as I totally dropped the ball. It that’s the way it goes! But to be honest I hadn’t reallynfollowed these guys since Vitalogy! So my bad..ha…..perhaps u should do a guest shot review here at Arena Rock!
    Bring it Robbo!


  4. Excellent stuff. Sounds like a pretty ace show. Though I got bored of R.E.M. after New Adventures …, I’m really pleased that I saw them. Such a great catalogue regardless of their ‘autopilot’ output (particularly after Berry left).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Awesome man… REM and The Cars are two bands I regret not seeing. Funny thing is I believe I saw Charlie Mars open for Bob Dylan.

    Peter Buck is a hell of a guitar player…pure feel and I love his riffs.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I read where that drummer passed…In fact I was talking to a blogger about it and that is why I thought of REM today…

        I’m not sure about Charlie… but I don’t feel bad for him… he dated Mary-Louise Parker at one time so he didn’t do bad.

        I was waiting for him to open for Bob and out comes this dude with a hat…I thought well that is Mars…nope…Elvis Costello made a unnannouced surprised visit and played an acoustic set…poor Charlie had to follow that….then Bob came out and played… and guess who he called up? Jack White of the White Stripes…cool concert man.

        Liked by 1 person

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