These days sax sidekick Clarence Clemons may find it necessary to sit out many songs on his throne/easy chair set to stage left and organist Danny Federici is sidelined by melanoma, but the leader still possesses a unflagging fire and expansive romanticism even if it is spent stumping for Hillary Clinton as of late. On Saturday night, what was striking was less how indebted the latest long-players by younger artists like Arcade Fire and the Killers are to Broooce than the long arm of his influence on so much '80s radio rock: everyone from Don Henley to Patti Smith to the Pointer Sisters to John Mellencamp.
And whither goes the next greatest rock band, after Springsteen, to attain critical mass: REM? The combo drew kudos for their recent South by Southwest turn and as with Brooce and the Stones, Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, and Peter Buck have chosen to grow louder with age, writing their new album on electric guitars rather than toning it down with dinner background Musak. More than 25 years into the band's history, REM's 14th album, Accelerate seems to plonk down in the Stones' tax bracket with the opening "Living Well Is the Best Revenge," if not for the clearly articulated, biting irony of Michael Stipe's lyric, "Baby I am calling you on that." Favoring rock 'n' roll blast in a compact 34 minutes, with only traces of the Velvety subtlety and Southern primitive melodicism I once treasured the band for, REM has instead picked up where "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" left off, retuning its glib soothsaying for post-WTO riots, post-Katrina times, driving it through a pop filter, and sprinkling "Sympathy for the Devil" whoos on the closer, "I'm Gonna DJ." "Look at the world and see plenty of reasons to be angry," guitarist Peter Buck has said, describing Accelerate. We'll see if they still rage, live.
With Modest Mouse and the National
May 31, 6 p.m.; June 1, 5 p.m., $39.50<\d>$89.50
UC Berkeley, Berk.