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Michael Stipe's usual modest entrance was no different for the 200,000+ plus crowd in London's Hyde Park, and the billions watching on TV. "Hello. We're REM, and this is what we do."

Wearing a fetching inches thick blue stripe from ear to ear, Stipe delivered that archetypal REM song, 'Imitation Of Life', and had the crowd eating out of his hand, with Hyde Park a mass of swaying arms, as 'Everybody Hurts' became arguably the biggest tearjerker of the day, and so appropriate on this day of social conscience on a mammoth scale. You just didn't want it to end, with Stipe's frenetic, emotional vocals, amidst Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and co. keeping the mesmerising rhythm going. One of the images of this day was Michael standing hands behind his back admiring the massive crowd, and they in turn saluting him, his band and this wonderful song.

For British TV viewers, 'Man On The Moon' was rudely interrupted by an interview with Brit band Razorlight. A dreadful cock-up by the BBC, but they recovered some points with some great crowd shots, as Stipe's Elvis impersonation, and almost a Ricky Gervais/David Brent dance impersonation, and ear-piercing shrieks of 'cool' all melded into a great jangly song. Job done, Stipe, Buck, and Mills stepped forward in unison to accept the plaudits they thoroughly deserved.

- Paul Rance for & Freedom Press. 1980s Music Index 1990s to Contemporary Music Index

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