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October 29, 1987 - Image 7

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-10-29

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Thursday, October 29, 1987

The MichiganDaily

Page 7






By Beth Fertig
If you're planning to go to
R.E.M.'s show at Crisler Arena
tonight, you'd better have bought
your ticket already. This show has
been sold out since not too long
after the first people showed up at
the Michigan Union to grab their
first-come-first-serve arm bands. It's
really kind of strange to see this
group playing arenas now. But then
again, that's just a reminder that
R.E.M. are now to the college
towns what Bon Jovi are to the
shopping malls.
But wait a minute - let's not get
down on anyone, now. R.E.M.
make good records, right? They
deserve their success. Hey, they
certainly don't put that much into
their appearances. You won't find
them on the video countdowns (yet),
and you certainly won't find them in
Tigerbeat. And if you had them over
for dinner, they'd be more likely to
discuss nuclear disarmament than
styling mousse. And still, R.E.M.
are what we like to call rock stars;
they make lots of money off their
fans' devotion (although $17 for a T-
shirt is definitely pushing it).
Devotion pays off, and tonight's
Ann Arbor appearance is a big step
up from R.E.M.'s non-attended
Clutch Cargo's gig of a few years

past, and even their Joe's Star
Lounge days when they played with
Map of the World. Devotion sells
records, and that's what any band
wants to do. But more than
anything, devotion buys an audience.
And maybe even a little hard-earned
freedom - freedom to hire more
expensive producers, and freedom to
try new ideas.
R.E.M.'s new record Document
has a bigger, bolder sound than
anything they've ever recorded
before. You can understand what
vocalist Michael Stipe is singing
most of the time, and guitarist Peter
Buck seems to have branched away
from his flattering but simple jangly
arrangements. But probably the
biggest surprise is their attention to
political statements, from the
Marxist cover art to the almost
action-inspiring lyrics. It's still
elusive and cerebral enough to
capture the imagination (and inspire
detractors to keep labeling them
pretentious), but the message is
more direct. Bassist Mike Mills shed
some light on the subject in a recent
phone interview with the Daily.
"Some of the political things just
became so painful and obvious, it
was beginning to affect us more
directly than anything before," he
said. "So Michael just decided it was
time to say something about it. I
wouldn't call it a direction or

anything. I don't know that the next
one will have anything on it like
this at all.
"All you can really do is make
people aware and make them think...
they have to judge for themselves
what to do about anything."
The band is also willing to do
more than sing about their
commitments, and has participated
in charity benefits. "We've done
those kind of things off and on, you
know," he said. "Greenpeace and
Amnesty International travel with
us. We let them set up in the halls.
People just have to be aware of
things - you have to do it yourself,
you can't make other people do it."
Unlike most other bands, there's
been considerably less signs of
political strife among the members
of R.E.M.; the same four musicians
have stayed in the band since its
inception in Athens, Georgia in the
early '80s.
"We're all pretty reasonable
people," Mills offered. "We try to
get along. Plus this band wouldn't
be the same with anybody else, we'd
have to change the name or just
disband it completely. The thing that
makes a band is the chemistry,
between the people, you know, other
than just a group of musicians."
What other band could Mills see
himself in?
"It might have been fun to tour

with the Stones about 15 years ago,
but not now... ten years ago... if I
could have been in Big Star that
would have been fun."
Mills actually has been involved
in several outside projects. He played
on a single by the Hindu Love Gods
(three quarters of R.E.M. plus some
other musicians, including Warren
Zevon), and an EP by the Full Time
Men, with two members of the
Fleshtones. He doesn't have
anything else on the shelves at the
moment, although he says "it's good
to do something besides the band."
In the meantime, it would appear
Mike Mills and the rest of the band
members are completely tied up with
R.E.M. - at least for the next
month or so - as they tackle their
yearly American Tour. These days,
doing something "besides the band"
allows for about as much space as
one can establish in a hotel or a tour
bus. But a tour bus is better than a
van, and a hotel is a lot better than a
couch. R.E.M. have paid their dues,
and deserve to be excited about
playing arenas. They also deserve to
be excited about having the dB's
open for them - just a month after
that band played Rick's in Ann
Arbor at the end of their own tour.
"Oh, I love the dB's," Mills
confessed. "They're real old buddies
of ours."
Showtime is 8 p.m.

Daily Photo by DOUG MCMAHON
R.E.M. lead vocalist Michael Stipe during an earlier
Ann Arbor performance at Joe's Star Loange. Tonight the
band will play in front of a sold out Crisler Arena crowd.

Opera possesses a comical touch

By David Hoegberg
Donizetti's rollicking opera Don
Pasquale will be performed by
Western Opera Theatre tonight at the
Power Center. The WOT's new
production, sung in English and set
in the 1930s, was described as
"musically and theatrically a
delightful effort that left (the
audience) laughing heartily and
cheering enthusiastically" by the San
Francisco Examiner. The opera is,
With Dionizetti's earlier L'Elisir
d'Amore and Rossini's Barber of
Seville, one of the three greatest
comedies Italy has produced, and it is
tailor-made for the sort of youthful
and energetic cast WOT provides.
It is perhaps unfair to point out
that Don Pasquale had its premier
the same year (in fact the day after)
Wagner's The Flying Dutchman,
but the fact shows that European
opera was in transition in 1843. Don
Pasquale is not a Wagnerian music-

drama, nor does it aspire to be.
While Wagner and Berlioz were at
the time painting on cosmic
canvasses with huge orchestral
palettes, Donizetti was carefully and
reliably inheriting Italian opera from
Rossini and passing it on to Verdi
(Verdi's I Lombardi also premiered
in 1843). His operas are not
revolutionary or flamboyant, but
they are superbly crafted an d
unerringly theatrical.
Don Pasquale, built on the model
of operatic comedies like Rossini's
and Mozart's Marriage of Figaro,
brings the genre forward into the
Romantic age with aplomb. Its
recitative sections are better
integrated into the musical line, its
orchestration is more varied, and its
melodic inventions every bit as
brilliant as its predecessors'. Most of
Donizetti's serious operas are
eclipsed by,others of the era, notably
those of Bellini, but his two
comedies, L'Elisir and Pasquale are
undeniable masterpieces and would

have been in any age. Of the two,
Pasquale is the product of
Donizetti's more mature years, when
he was at the height of his powers
and fame. It tells the age-old story of
youth and love outwitting greed and
crotchety old age to a score as full of
operatic "chestnuts" as could be
Western Opera Theatre, the pro-
fessional touring arm of the San
Francisco Opera Center, is now in
its 22nd season of bringing fully-
staged operas to communities
throughout the United States and
Canada. It employs younger singers
who have not yet achieved wide
fame, but don't expect to have to

compromise your love of fine
singing. The Power Center's
intimate setting and Donizetti's airy
score were designed to bring out the
best in well-trained voices without
pushing them beyond their limits.
And with the opera company as fine
as San Francisco's as the sponsor,
the singers you hear tomorrow may
well be the household names of
The Western Opera Theatre will
be performing DON PASQUALE at
the Power Center tonight at 8 p.m.
Tickets range from $20 to $24 and
are available at the Burton Tower
office of the University Musical

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