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April 28, 1991 - R.E.M. Play Sold-Out Benefit For Mountain Stage
By Heath Harrison
November 3, 2013


From arena shows, to fairs, to intimate venues, West Virginia and Charleston have seen their share of memorable concerts over the years.

One of the most notable came on April 28, 1991, when alternative rock superstars R.E.M. paid a visit to the capitol city.

The Athens, Ga. quartet, of Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry, were at the height of their fame, having released their No. 1-selling album, "Out of Time," containing their highest-charting hit, "Losing My Religion," a month earlier.

Despite the reception of the album, the band was in the middle of a 6-year break from touring, and chose not to go on the road to accompany the release, making only a handful of appearances for tapings of “MTV Unplugged” and “Saturday Night Live.”

The band chose Charleston as the location for their lone full concert date for the year, appearing at a benefit for West Virginia Public Radio’s Mountain Stage at the Capitol Theatre to perform an hour-long set of original material and covers. Guitarist Buck had appeared on the show the year before, and made good a promise to return with the full band.

The show, featuring supporting acts Robyn Hitchcock and Billy Bragg, sold out its 1,000 seats, priced at $20 each, within 15 minutes. West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton, in attendance at the program, declared the day as “R.E.M. Day,” in recognition of the group’s support for public broadcasting.

The appearance helped raise Mountain Stage's prominence nationally, and the performance was featured on NBC's "Today Show" and the BBC.

R.E.M. would return to touring in 1995 and continued as a band until their break-up in 2011. Mountain Stage is still going strong and is getting ready to celebrate 30 years of broadcasting, with an anniversary show set for Dec. 1 at the Culture Center.

This week’s video, courtesy of the West Virginia State Archives at the Culture Center, features a WCHS report by Wendy Griffith from the concert with a snippet of the band playing "World Leader Pretend" during the warm-up, as well as interviews with Mountain Stage host Larry Groce and fans camped out at the theater’s door before the show.

Bonus Video: An audience recording from the show of the group covering The Troggs' "Love is All Around" can be found on YouTube.

Remember When: April 28, 1991 - R.E.M. Play Sold-Out Benefit For Mountain Stage

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