R.E.M. Perform Live Together for First Time in 15 Years at Surprise Songwriters Hall of Fame Reunion

R.E.M. Perform Live Together for First Time in 15 Years at Surprise Songwriters Hall of Fame Reunion

R.E.M. told CBS Mornings this week that it would take a comet for them to play together again. Well, apparently they saw one.

For the first time in nearly 16 years, the foursome reunited to sing “Losing My Religion” at the Songwriters Hall of Fame gala in New York on Thursday night (June 13).

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The performance was preceded by Jason Isbell, who feted them with a spirited, note-perfect rendition of the tongue-twisting “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine),” a song he said he learned when he was 10 years old. “R.E.M. was greater than the sum of its parts. R.E.M. moved like a single instrument,” he said.

The Athens, Georgia, foursome — Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, Bill Berry and Peter Buck — then came together onstage, with Stipe speaking for all four. “Writing songs and having a catalog of work that we’re all proud of that is out there for the rest of the world for all time is hands-down the most important aspect of what we did. Second to that is that we managed to do so all those decades and remain friends. And not just friends, dear friends,” he said.

“We are four people that very early on decided that we would own our own masters and we would split our royalties and songwriting credits equally,” he continued. “All for one and one for all.”

In a gracious move, Stipe then quickly read a long list of thank yous to people that extended back to its early days on I.R.S. Records up through Warner Records, before concluding by thanking the band’s longtime manager Bertis Downs. 

The band then took center stage, picked up their instruments and, as Stipe said, “Here’s what we did.” 

The band’s last full concert was in November 2008 in Mexico City. The foursome played a private party for Downs in 2016 but had not performed publicly since 2008.

R.E.M. were among the 2024 inductees into the Songwriters Hall of Fame alongside Steely Dan (Donald Fagen and the late Walter Becker) and Hillary Lindsey, Timothy Mosley (Timbaland), Dean Pitchford and the late Cindy Wlaker at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City on Thursday night.