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The vanquished security men and even the hall’s manager, who momentarily threatened to stop the show to restore order, are eventually seen bobbing happily amid the crowd.The pandemonium seems to inspire the band, which responds with a raucous, electrifying performance.
S., but most of the European concerts were canceled when Berry suffered a ruptured aneurysm, from which he is expected to make a full recovery.) The three dates in Southeast Asia are clearly special, because the venues the band plays in Taipei, Hong Kong, and Singapore are far smaller than it’s accustomed to. I’m sure that’s true here in Hong Kong as well, whereas it’s probably not true of Beijing or Shanghai.I speak with Stipe, Buck, and Mills before a concert that R. M., mindful of the crown colony’s imminent return to mainland China rule, will conclude with “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”Godfrey Cheshire: Taipei and Hong Kong are R. I was afraid they were really going to try to keep people in their seats. About halfway through the set I just ripped it out of his hands, and we fought over it, and I hit him over the head with it. Buck: You know, if somebody waves something at me once, it’s funny, it’s kind of absurdist. I don’t think it’s very typical for bands to come through Taipei and Singapore. Quite honestly, I don’t even like shows that hold a thousand people.But they didn’t, which was just as well, because I don’t think they could have. I was like, “Don’t bring bread to my shows and don’t wave it at me if you do.” I didn’t get it. But after about ten songs, I was like, “Fuck this bread.” Little things like that bother me. I hate it when you make eye contact with someone and they scream your name not once, but twenty times. Cheshire: Was it weird having people so close they could touch you? It’s just off-putting to have a wall of faces in front of you, because I’m used to being able to look over people’s heads. I will go see things I like if I have to see them in big places, but if I can’t walk to the front and then walk to the back, I don’t have as good a time.If I can’t concentrate, I can look over the crowd’s head into a kind of void. I loved Nirvana but I didn’t see them even once when we were in Seattle, because I thought, Oh, I’ve seen them fifteen times in small places and now it’s like 10,000 people.As Peter Buck’s wife, Stephanie, notes, while dancing in front of the stage in Taipei, it’s almost like seeing the band in a club again. Peter Buck: Meeting people in Taipei was really great. Stipe: They must have been excited to see a band that usually plays 20,000 seats in the U. Cheshire: It was funny the way the security just melted away when the kids rushed the stage.The shows are also economically anomalous, given the size of R. M.’s 1995 entourage, which includes a recently expanded family contingent: The Bucks are the parents of year-old twins, Zoe and Zelda, who by now are road veterans. Mills: I was actually very happy with the security there.
Getting everybody through Hong Kong customs the next day takes more than an hour, but the island repays the wait. Mike Mills: Not to be overly simplistic, but it’s the most foreign of the foreign places we’ve gone to. They managed to keep people off the stage and still let people have a good time.
On the way to Queen Elizabeth Stadium, the band members are agog at Hong Kong’s blizzard of neon and glittering New Year’s decorations. The culture is as different here from the culture we live in as any we’ve seen, except for maybe the Arab world. I enjoy seeing the people’s approach to life and their customs. Sitting in the cockpit of the plane and flying in at night in the rain and then driving through the city on Chinese New Year . Apparently there were instances when they were a little too lax, but I didn’t see that. He had a baguette that he’d wave at me every time I’d even glance in his direction. It looked like you were fighting with a guy over a loaf of bread in the middle of a song, but that didn’t make any sense. But my feeling in the matter is that anything over about four hundred people is too many.
An explosive version of “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?
” opens the show, kicking the audience into a screaming, barely contained frenzy.
Even that containment ruptures after about twenty minutes, when “Man on the Moon” prompts the front rows to surge past the overwhelmed security personnel and rush the stage, where, for the rest of the concert, fans will clutch at Stipe and dance nonstop.
If this is a “riot,” as it will later be called, it’s a genial, polite Chinese form of chaos.