From the few hundred people who saw them in the SFX in 1984 to the thousands more they played to when supporting U2 at Croke Park the next year; then on to their own big gig of the summer at the RDS in 1989 and subsequent shows in Lansdowne Road, Marlay Park, Malahide Castle, the Point and their five-night stand at the Olympia in 2007 from which this double album is drawn, REM's relationship with Dublin is one of those rare examples of a band connecting with a city's music fans in a special, non-lip service way. One of the hardest things to find on a live album is genuine warmth; you feel it here.
While REM's plan for their Olympia residency as a 'working rehearsal' for the 'Accelerate' album sounded more than a little pretentious (shouldn't the tickets have been €10 not €50, then?), the performances turned out to be anything but - a band getting back to basics, proving they could still blast it out in a room and having the guts to try out new songs and also relive the very distant past every night. And so while these records usually serve as either a cash-in or stop-gap between studio sojourns, this one turns out to be one of the best things in REM's career.
It's a treasure trove that's hard to leave, where the memories attached to the old songs shine very bright and the songs themselves still sound like they could come out today to the same acclaim. The versions of 'Disturbance at the Heron House', 'So. Central Rain', 'Driver 8', 'These Days', 'Feeling Gravity's Pull' and 'West of the Fields' and others are superb, and the 'Accelerate' material prompts a return to that record.
When you do decide to walk away you do so thankful for what music has brought to your life, energised by what you've heard and optimistic for the future - exactly like the best gigs.
Short of having them playing in the front room, there's not much more a fan could want.
REM CD winners: Catherine de Buitléar, Dublin; Fergus O'Brien, Cork; Mark Taylor, Galway. Thanks to everyone who entered.