Dickie Felton

I write about music and football

Flashback/ The summer of REM: UK Monster Tour 1995

This week, exactly two decades ago, REM toured Britain and Ireland playing to more than 350,000 fans.

For me, seeing this supreme group, at this supreme time, was a life-defining moment. I'd just turned 22. I'd just left university. I'd just split up with someone.

Seven summer dates in July 1995 were epic occasions with Michael Stipe and his group in dramatic form. Baking hot summer sun greeted the open air concerts at castles, bowls, football and rugby stadiums.

Ireland's Slane Castle provided the first venue for this seven stretch support for the group's Monster album.

After wowing 80,000 Irish fans (with the help of support act Oasis), REM moved onto Cardiff Arms Park, two nights at Huddersfield, Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh and finally two dates at Milton Keynes Bowl.

These weren't just any old stadium dates by any old global band. These were mesmerising evenings and each fan knew they were witnessing musical history. REM had not toured the UK for the previous six years.

The last time they'd visited Blighty was in 1989 playing venues like Glasgow Barrowlands, Liverpool Royal Court and Hammersmith Odeon. At that time they were a big group in indie terms and their Green album had achieved some mainstream success.

But by 1995 REM had produced a hat-trick of world class albums. I doubt any other group could lay claim to a treble quite like this: 1991 Out of Time, 1992 Automatic for the People, 1994 Monster. This array of stunning work saw REM leap from theatres to football stadiums.

REM didn't tour with Out of Time or Automatic for the People. But for the third of the trilogy - Monster - Stipe, Buck, Mills and Berry hit the road with the most gorgeous set of songs ever. The 1995 summer tour was essentially supporting three of the greatest albums of all time.

Each of the seven dates were also notable for a dazzling support cast, with the best British musical talent cherry-picked for each show.

When me, Lisa, Latta and Tam rocked up to Huddersfield's Alfred McAlpine stadium, the major concern was how we'd make a tiny bottle of sun cream last six hours. We'd booked our gig tickets as part of a coach trip from St Helens. And a convoy of buses arrived at the show from across the UK.

The McAlpine, a futuristic football/rugby stadium, had only been open a year and REM was one of its very first concerts.

We were treated to an amazing afternoon of Terrorvision, Echobelly and The Beautiful South. Being big fans of all three groups we had a thrilling afternoon into evening. By the time REM entered we were in some kind of musical ecstasy. This group from Athens Georgia played an emotional set of hits, and classic album tracks spanning the previous seven years.

Songs such as Everybody Hurts and Strange Currencies took on epic proportions. While Losing My Religion and Man on the Moon brought the house down.

All in it was one of the finest concerts I've ever been to. Stipe endeared himself to the audience by donning a Huddersfield Town shirt. And I also remember him telling a tale of an innocent man languishing on Death Row.

There were other darker moments too. REM played Let Me In - a tribute to Kurt Cobain. That night REM also played two of my all time favourite songs: Try Not to Breathe and Country Feedback.

I doubt whether I'll ever attend a bigger gig than this. The summer of 1995, great times, sad times, amazing times. 

Check out this wonderful story about the concert by the Huddersfield Examiner. There is some nice fan memories here too

The last date of this spectacular REM summer, on 30 July 1995, was at Milton Keynes Bowl. The support acts Sleeper, Radiohead and The Cranberries. The show was broadcast live on BBC radio.

The Huddersfield set list: 26 July 1995 - The Alfred McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield, England support: Terrorvision, Echobelly, The Beautiful South: 

I Took Your Name / What's The Frequency Kenneth? / Crush With Eyeliner / Orange Crush / Circus Envy / Try Not To Breathe / Bang And Blame / Undertow / Welcome To The Occupation / Strange Currencies / Revolution / Tongue / Man On The Moon / Country Feedback / Half A World Away / Losing My Religion / Pop Song 89 / Finest Worksong / Get Up / Star 69. encore: Let Me In / Everybody Hurts / Fall On Me / Departure / It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).

Dickie Felton is an author who has written two books about the legendary singer Morrissey and his fans. 

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