Syndicate content

November 23, 1984, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK

As R.E.M. was making it's second trek across the great pond in 1984 we begin to see new songs in the setlists during the summer and fall months. Driver 8, Old Man Kensey, Auctioneer and Wendell Gee were some of the chestnuts being performed onstage during this time. The recording below, one of the best of the year offers in my opinion a perfect rendition of Wendell Gee, arguably the best live version that you are going to hear.
In fact, the entire show is probably one of my favorites for just feeling complete and having a crisp sound.  However, we are going to take a trip down memory lane and I will post my original review that I wrote about this recording back in 2006.

1984/11/23 – University of East Anglia, Norwich, England.    *****
Breaking into the critic’s corner for a moment I really wanted to start off with something ingenious fresh, and creative for my first review. Nothing too flashy. . . you don’t start off with Barrymore’s in the first ever review. You don’t start off with some ignoramus Orlando 89 show either. Like we already have that one!
So, I sat with Dave Sanchez, my personal assistant/trainer/secretary and we went through the list of bootlegs I own.
Dave Sanchez: Automatic Demos?
Me: Nah, everyone has those.
Dave Sanchez: Right. I forgot. Um, the Video of Peter eating breakfast at the Croc?
Me: Too much cholesterol for my tastes.
Dave Sanchez: He did have that fruit bowl with his steak and Bacon Omelet.
Me: And he washed it down with Eggnog.
Dave Sanchez: He did? That is not on my DVD recording.
Me: Well the entire recording lasted 67 minutes and the person who recorded it put only 60 minutes on it per VHS Tape. Many people didn’t get the second VHS tape.
Dave Sanchez: I will have to snag that from you at some point. There is that CD that was signed by Todd Ploharski too. “Norwich”?
Me: Oh yeah. November 84 Norwich Show. “Dear Eric, I know where you live, Todd P.!”
Dave Sanchez: It’s a pretty great sounding show. Whenever, I talk to Nicky Wire of The Manic Street Preachers I put it on in the background. It makes for a good interview.
Me: Yeah it’s very good. He ended up trading this to me for a couple of Styx Ticket Stubs signed by Dennis DeYoung himself.
Dave Sanchez: I think you jipped him off. Styx?
Me: Styx is a legendary band. ‘Come Sail Away’, is a staple among indie rock bands musical collections. You don’t think that the Decemberists copied the theme of “Ships” from their music? Same with the Fiery Furnaces. Bands like the theme of sailing these days. They are all Yachtsmen.
Dave Sanchez: I don’t think that R.E.M. has written their “Ships” song yet.
Me: They haven’t. Michael Stipe ends up falling overboard. If R.E.M. wants to be huge on the stadium tour circuit again they should cover this song.
Dave Sanchez: You know, ‘The Lifting’ sorta sounds like “Come Sail Away”.
Me: You want me to print that on the site?
Dave Sanchez: Yeah, why not?
Me: R.E.M. might sue us for defamation. I will have to check with our lawyers.
Dave Sanchez: I thought you wanted this site to be “No Holds Barred”.
The conversation gets ugly at this moment and a bunch of “He Said, She Said”, argumentation takes place before Mr. Sanchez storms out of the room pouting.
            I do have to thank him for bringing it up though. The Norwich show was a bit of a surprise when I first laid my hands on it. There are two versions of this show, a more normal audience-sounding version, which is a full version of the show, and the Soundboard version that is missing two songs (Driver 8 and Radio Free Europe). This review is on the soundboard show.  When I first ran across this show in Low Yo Yo’s I had not been aware that this even existed.
Only two days earlier the famous Nottingham show that has been shared too many times to be counted is a comparison with this show. While on the surface, the Nottingham sounds more bass heavy, it also sounds like a larger venue. This show, on the other hand, sounds like a more intimate venue and for that you get a better sense of Stipe.  I thought that on many of the soundboards that were done during the tours supporting Reckoning were very vocal shy. This performance has plenty of Stipe and his mumbling.
            There are a few key moments that should be cherished on this performance. First off, it is the first time that the band performed Bandwagon and out of all the performances of this particular song (only 15 live) this is the best copy out there.  The second standout performance “Wendell Gee” would definitely be one of the top 2 performances.  Wendell Gee also falls into the category with Bandwagon in that it was performed only 12 times live! While I would definitely recommend the ‘Cutting Edge’ version, which should pop its pretty little head up on the new IRS Best of DVD, other good versions of this show exist on October 6, 1984 St. Louis show as well as the December 4, 1984 Dublin show although they are slightly lesser quality.  This was also performed at the Nottingham gig mentioned above but the soundboard boot that is selling for 25 dollars does not include it on there. Next to the Cutting Edge performance, the Norwich copy is the cleanest version available and the one that is most “Wendell Gee” sounding, as the version on the ‘Cutting Edge’ is acoustic.
            It is unfortunate that R.E.M. has failed to come to terms with ‘Wendell Gee’, truly one of the most beautiful and more stunning songs in the R.E.M. catalog. From what I understand, Peter had some issues with the song and never liked it. Mike Mills did perform it a couple years ago when he also sung the infamous “Eagle Song”, and claimed to have written it. Looking back on ‘Fables of the Reconstruction’, I felt that the song has always been a great bookend to that album and maybe one day we will be blessed with them once again performing it live.
            Otherwise this boot contains pretty much a standard fare of R.E.M. songs for the Reckoning Tour. The beginning of the show starts off quite odd with "Femme Fatale" which makes it interesting. They also threw in “”Moral Kiosk”, which had pretty much been eliminated from the setlists by this time of the tour and there is a nice rendition of “We Walk” close to the end of the show that always is fun with Stipe doing his “Behind Closed Door” rendition; albeit this time around I think he is spending more time in a library. The song quickly gets transformed into the Velvets “After Hours”, before kicking it up a notch with Chronic Town’s “1,000,000.
            A couple of standard covers, the aforementioned “Wendell Gee”, and “Just a Touch”, close out the show.
            Look for this one if it ever pops up on Dime or another Bit Torrent site or scours the Trading lists for this one and make sure it’s the Soundboard version.  It’s always been underrated in my opinion, and should be in every R.E.M. fans collection.
Eric Zimmermann
The below files are stored in FLAC format. Right-Click to download. 
November 23, 1984
University of East Anglia
Norwich, UK 

01            Femme Fatale
02            Moral Kiosk
03            Gardening At Night
04            9-9
05            Windout           
06            Old Man Kensey           
07            So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)           
08            Seven Chinese Bros.           
09            (Don't Go Back To) Rockville           
10            Thanks To The Lucy Show           
11            Hyena           
12            Swing Low Sweet Chariot_Sitting Still           
13            Auctioneer (Another Engine)           
14            Talk About The Passion           
15            Pretty Persuasion           
16            Little America           
17            Moon River           
18            Second Guessing           
19            Bandwagon           
20            We Walk_After Hours           
21            1,000,000           
22            Ghostriders In The Sky           
23            See No Evil           
24            Wendell Gee           
25            Just A Touch