Former REM frontman Michael Stipe surprised fans earlier this week, when he played his first solo gig since the band split by supporting Patti Smith in New York. Footage and audio are below.
The alt-rock icon has remained coy about his potential return to the stage since they amicably called it a day back in 2011, but on Monday (29 December, 2014), Stipe appeared unnanounced at NYC's Webster Hall to open for Patti Smith.
With a six-song set, Stipe played REM’s 'Saturn Return' and 'New Test Leper', as well as covering Vic Chesnutt’s 'Lucinda Williams', Patti Smith's 'Wing', 'Hood' by Perfume Genius and the classic 'New York, New York'.
Stipe dropped a subtle hint about his return earlier this month. Speaking to Anthony Mason on CBS This Morning: Saturday's, Stipe was asked whether he was contemplating retirement, to which he replied: "I think I'll sing again. That's maybe an exclusive? But I think I will sing again, yeah." Mason then asks, "Soon?" "I love my voice and I think it's still… I think it actually got better as I got older. Not soon," Stipe says. "Maybe. I don't know. I sing in the shower. And I'm not bad. You would be surprised at my play list."
If and when Stipe does decide to sing again however, it definitely won't be alongside his former bandmates. After Mason asks whether an R.E.M. is on the cards, Stipe says: "No. That will never happen.I love those guys very much and I respect them hugely as musicians and as songwriters and everything, but I just don't want to do that thing that people do".