For your viewing pleasure, I have selected a number of video clips, uploaded onto YouTube by R.E.M. fans from all over the world. All these clips showcase the various sides of Mike Mills’s immense talent, as well as his sunny personality. I have chosen the footage (TV appearances, live performances) which – to my best knowledge – has not been commercially released on DVDs or BluRays.

Okay, here we go:

1. R.E.M. – Wolves, Lower (The Pier, Raleigh, NC, 10 October 1982)

This is one of the oldest available recordings of R.E.M.’s live shows; heck, this is even before Murmur was released! The band look impossibly young, especially Mike Mills, with his slight frame, cropped hair and prominent cheekbones. The quality of the footage is far from stellar, nevertheless the raw energy of their early shows is captured perfectly.

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2. R.E.M. – Radio Free Europe (David Letterman Show, 6 October 1983)

This is the famous video of R.E.M.’s first ever appearance on national television, on David Letterman Show. While the band were in the studio playing, their buddies went to the famous 40 Watt club in Athens to watch them on the big screen. Naturally, they laughed and jeered and threw stuff at the screen (hey, I’d have done the same if my mates were showing off on telly!)
R.E.M. deliver with aplomb, with Peter Buck and Mike Mills sporting black & white Rickenbackers and dancing wildly on the stage, in stark contrast to frozen-to-the-spot-Stipe!

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3. R.E.M. – Driver 8 and Hyena HQ (Rockpalast, Bochum, 2 October 1985)

Filmed by Westdeutcher Rundfunk during the German leg of the band’s Fables of the Reconstruction tour. Although “Hyena” only made it onto the Lifes Rich Pageant album, it was a concert favourite since 1984. In 1987 Mike Mills swore that he would never play this song again, and so far he’s kept his promise. sad Too bad, because in my humble opinion, the song sounds way better live than on the LRP album, because we can actually hear the sung “dialogue” between Stipe and Mills (while in the album version Millsy’s vocals are kinda buried in the mix, esp. in the first verse – booo!).

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4. R.E.M. – Second Guessing (Rockpalast, Bochum, 2 October 1985)

The same German show as above, and another dialoguish song which greatly benefits from live performances (in fact, my grumpy half thinks that this applies to the entire Reckoning album)! Anyway, just listen to that bass… simply amazing. What’s even more impressive is Mike’s ability to play virtuoso bass lines and sing completely different melodies at the same time. That my friends is pretty difficult, and requires a great ear for polyphony. Luckily, Mike is more than capable of multitasking!

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5. R.E.M. – Orange Crush (Pinkpop Festival, Netherlands, 14 May 1989)

It is year 1989, R.E.M. are already big in Europe, and they are performing at the oldest annual festival in the world, promoting their latest offering, Green. Fortunately, the Dutch television was there to film their performance – thanks, guys! Of all their records, Green holds a special place in my heart, because it was the first R.E.M. album I ever bought… and I loved it so much that a few weeks later I had to get hold of a copy of Document as well. I was 14 at the time and, Lord knows, Document and Green were the perfect albums to project my teen angst onto.

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6. R.E.M. – Get Up (Shocking Club, Milano, 22 March 1991)

Instead of doing a full-blown tour in support of their bestselling album Out Of Time, R.E.M. played a series of small, mostly acoustic shows. This acoustic performance of “Get Up” isn’t the best ever, they mess up the music-boxes bit, but it’s very interesting nevertheless. Apparently Bill Berry wasn’t on the best singing form that day, so Mike took over his “replies” in the chorus – “Dreams they complement my life”.

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7. R.E.M. & Kate Pierson – Shiny Happy People (New York, April 1991)

Now, this is a true gem. Nowadays R.E.M. are too embarrassed to even mention “Shiny Happy People” – they seem to no longer like the song, they don’t perform it live, and it’s even been left out of all their compilations released so far. Too bad, because it is surely one of their best loved songs; I remember it being played at every single party I went to back in the early 1990s (good times!), and even these days this is the song I count on to lift me up after a bad day at work. Anyway, this video was filmed in New York, before the Saturday Night Live show, as the band were rehearsing the now infamous song with the gorgeous (though surprisingly unflamboyantly dressed) Kate Pierson of the B 52′s fame. Enjoy!

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8. R.E.M. – Love Is All Around Me (Chelsea Studios, New York City, 10 April 1991)

I’m not entirely sure this hasn’t been released, but it’s too good to miss! It’s from R.E.M.’s famous MTV Unplugged show, and Mike sings a beautiful version of the then-obscure Troggs’ song. Who could have predicted a dire consequence of this show… namely, Mike’s lovely performance inspired a certain Scottish band to turn this song into an unbearably schmalzy smash that dominated the charts, not to mention weddings and funerals, in 1994. Mikey, Mikey, look what you’ve done, you’ve created a monster!

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9. R.E.M. – Where’s Captain Kirk? (R.E.M. Fanclub Christmas Single, 1992)

And now for something completely different! Ever since 1988 R.E.M. have been treating their fanclub members to free Christmas singles, which usually comprise unusual covers, live recordings, unreleased songs or just random goofing. In 1992 Mike Mills recorded Spizzenergi’s punk anthem “Where’s Captain Kirk?” for R.E.M.’s Christmas giveaway. Mike’s version of “Captain Kirk” is even faster and more hysterical than Spizzenergi’s original, and he even transforms his voice into a mock-baritone! The band members have given the green light for the fans to put these Xmas treats on Youtube, and the clip below is a fanmade video containing scenes from the original Star Trek series.

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10. Automatic Baby – One (Washington D.C., 20 January 1993)

Now this is what a call a meeting on Mount Olympus of rock music: Michael Stipe and Mike Mills join forces with U2′s rhythm section, Messrs. Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. The two bands have been friends for a long time, and every now and then someone throws a suggestion that they should merge into a single band called R.U.2.E.M. or so. Anyway, the Automatic Baby supergroup only performed once, at MTV’s Inaugural Ball in Washington, D.C. for (then) President Bill Clinton – yep, the Monica Lewinsky blowjob dude. Clinton’s legacy may be dubious, but what a great version of U2′s “One” this is – I daresay Stipe sings it better than Bono! Now shoot me.

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11. The Backbeat Band – Money + Long Tall Sally (MTV Music Awards, 9 June 1994)

The only live performance of the Backbeat Band, the all star rock team formed for the purpose of recording soundtrack for the eponymous film describing the early days of The Beatles. Mike Mills is joined by Greg Dulli (Afghan Whigs), Dave Pirner (Soul Asylum), Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Dave Grohl (Nirvana) and Don Fleming (Gumball) – that’s pretty much a “who’s who” of the early 1990s American rock music. This was also Grohl’s first live appearance after Kurt Cobain’s death, so it was kinda bittersweet. On a merrier note, Mike looks tiny next to 6ft 6in (199cm) Thurston Moore!
[NOTE: Mike also sings a hilarious version of Bo Diddley's "Roadrunner" on the Backbeat Band album - highly recommended!]

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12. R.E.M. – Crush With Eyeliner (David Letterman Show, 23 June 1995)

Twelve years after their first appearance, R.E.M. are back on Letterman. They’ve all changed a bit – Letterman looks middle-aged, Stipe is bald and camping it up, Buck is wearing pyjama bottoms… And so the award for the most improved member of R.E.M. goes to – Mike Mills! Sometime in 1993 or 1994, before the release of their Monster album, Mills gave himself a makeover and ditched his trademark college boy image for a much more colourful look. Gone were the nerdy specs, bowl haircut, punky t-shirts, jeans and chucks – enter the long wavy mane, cowboy boots and sparkly Nudie suits! (This white suit emblazoned with musical notation, which can be seen in the clip below, is my firm favourite.) I remember back in 1994 when me and my sisters saw the promo video for “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth” for the first time, and both my sisters were like: “What the f**k, R.E.M. have a new bassist?!” while I exclaimed: “Well well, hello there Mikey, I’ve been waiting for you to pull this stunt since forever!” And then we all screamed: “He’s hot!!!” Amen, sisters.

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13. R.E.M. – Baby Baby (R.E.M. Fanclub Christmas Single, 1991)

Another Christmas single with Mike Mills on lead vocals and another cover of an obscure English 1970s punk band. This song “Baby Baby” was originally released in 1977 by the nowadays-almost-forgotten-though-still-active band The Vibrators. In 1991 Mike Mills and his R.E.M. cohorts dug this song from obscurity and had a blast with it. I made a video for “Baby Baby” using various footage from the 1990s – Mike Mills at his sparkliest!! The advent of technology has enabled even the visually retarted people like myself to be able to make simple films; so, please ignore my video-making ineptitude and enjoy the song.

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14. R.E.M. – Fall On Me (Capitol Lawn, Washington D.C., 15 June 1998)

A day after the Tibetan Freedom concert, the three legged dog a.k.a. the post-Bill-Berry-R.E.M. perform an acoustic version of their 1986 anthem; the gig was thrown on the National Day for Action on Tibet. Stipe is clearly not in good form, and his voice cracks in the second chorus, but Mills is there to save the day!

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15. R.E.M. @ Sesame Street – Furry Happy Monsters (Kaufman Astoria Studios, New York, 4 February 1999)

R.E.M. join forces with the Sesame Street muppets for a hernia-inducingly funny version of “Shiny Happy People”. R.E.M. are often regarded as a “serious” band, in a sense that they have always been politically conscious and involved with all sorts of social and environmental crusades. But, for me, a big part of the band’s appeal lies in their wonderful sense of humour, which ranges from self-deprecating irony via quirky stunts to irreverent goofing. Some of their best videos are downright hilarious (“Can’t Get There From Here”, “Pop Song 89″, “Electrolite”, “Bad Day”, “The Great Beyond”…) and the Sesame Street skit captures the band at their goofiest. Gotta love ‘em!

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16. Michael Stipe & Mike Mills – Why Not Smile (Bologna, 11 July 1999)

This clip is short and low-fi, however no self-respecting fan should miss the opportunity to see Stipe and Mills smooch on stage! This was a running gag on the band’s Up tour – Stipe would finish every performance of “Why Not Smile” by snogging Millsy. (Can’t blame the man, can you?) Anyway, the two of them have come a long way since their very first encounter back in early 1980, when Stipe (in)famously disliked Mills and proclaimed: “No f*cking way I’m gonna be in a band with HIM!” Good thing he reconsidered.

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17. R.E.M. – Superman (Cologne, Germany, 12 May 2001)

The freshly bleached Mike Mills entertains the crowd during the soundcheck before the concert in Cologne (Koln). Pretty great performance, even without Stipe’s backing vocals. As stated in a comment on Youtube, “made arriving hours early for the gig worth it.” Oh, and is that Ken Stringfellow with hot-pink hair?!… Please Mike, don’t get any ideas – stick with platinum blonde!

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18. Mike Mills – The Eagle (Music Midtown Festival, Atlanta, 5 November 2002)

Nobody knows the exact title of this song, but it is affectionately known as “The Eagle” in the fandom. As far as me and my well-informed friends know, this is the only time Mike ever performed this nice ditty. Will it ever get released? We’ll just have to wait and see!

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19. R.E.M. – Animal (A&E In Studio with Nick Harcourt, Los Angeles, 9 September 2003)

This was filmed in the Village Recording Studios: the small show was staged for fanclub members and 98.7 contest winners and filmed for A&E TV show. Also, this is the best live performance of “Animal” I could find on Youtube. “Animal” may not be the most loved song in R.E.M. catalogue, but it is undoubtedly great fun to play live, and here the entire band is on top form.

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20. Michael Stipe & Mike Mills – Nightswimming (Later with Jools Holland, BBC Studio TC1, London, 14 October 2003)

Two Michaels in action again, this time they’re tackling their 1992 classic, live on British national television. Two blokes + one piano + one microphone = pure bliss.

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21. Mike Mills – Out In The Country (2003)

I must not upload this homemade clip on Youtube due to copyright issues, however I hope that I won’t incur the wrath of R.E.M.’s record company by sharing it here, because this track is no longer commercially available – the CD is out of print, and it can’t be downloaded from online retailers either. So, until they decide to rerelease the track on some future compilation of the band’s oddities, we should be pretty safe. Mike covered this song, originally recorded by the 1970s act Three Dog Night, for the b-side of R.E.M.’s 2003 single “Bad Day”. Not all copies of the single actually contained this track, so it’s a bit of a rarity; and in my humble opinion no showcase of Mike’s talents is complete without this beautiful song.

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22. R.E.M. – Me In Honey (Rock Am Ring, Germany, 3 June 2005)

R.E.M. dig out the rarely performed but truly enchanting song from Out of Time. Mike Mills successfully replaces Kate Pierson on backing vocals, doing full justice to those warm, lush, uplifting, heart-melting [*insert more gushing adjectives here*] harmonies.

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23. Mike Mills & Sally Ellison – Jesus Christ (Christmas 2006 charity single)

I made this video in honour of the late Alex Chilton. Mike and Sally recorded this cover of Chilton’s beautiful song for the benefit of the Red Apple Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the quality of life for children in the U.S. As for the video, I have combined photos of Alex Chilton himself with some nice vintage photos of Mike Mills, possibly his biggest fan. Obviously the clip is not gonna win me any awards for short feature, but I hope my fellow fans will enjoy it.

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24. R.E.M. – Begin The Begin (Rock’n'Roll Hall of Fame, New York, 12 March 2007)

The band reunited with their retired drummer Bill Berry for the Rock’n'Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. For some reason, Peter Buck’s guitar amp wasn’t working properly that night, and his guitar sounds a bit muffled; but as result of this guitar malfunction, we can fully appreciate the awesomeness of the rhythm section. Amazingly, Bill and Mike sound as sharp, groovy and powerful as ever, despite the fact that they haven’t played together for ten years. But let’s not forget that before Bill’s retirement in 1997 the two of them had spent almost 25 years gigging together! And it shows.

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25. Mike Mills & Mudville – Eternity (Blue Note, New York City, 31 March 2007)

Mike is jammin’ with the acid-jazz-ambiental-soul-post-trip-hop band Mudville. This song “Eternity”, featuring the mega cool Mike on piano, is the first track from the band’s addictivelly bizarre 2007 album Iris Nova. This is as different from R.E.M. as it gets, but brilliant! The clip below was recorded live in the Blue Note club, and you can listen to the studio version of the song on the band’s official website.

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26. R.E.M. – Supernatural Superserious (Bruschetteria, New York City, 12 February 2008)

This is one of the 12 guerilla-filmed clips, released via R.E.M.’s website Supernatural Superserious in February 2008, when the band offered their fans the chance to select the footage they liked and create their own video for the song. Michael, Peter and Mike perform an intimate acoustic version of “Supernatural Superserious”. No frills, no studio enhancements, just raw emotion pure and simple. Mike’s bass line is absolutely stunning: ever since the band’s very first single, “Radio Free Europe”, he’s been creating these great bass melodies, which are never intrusive, and yet in most cases they are crucial for song dynamics.

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27. Mike Mills & Robert McDuffie – Nightswimming (Mercer University, Macon, GA, 18 February 2009)

“Nightswimming” has always been my sister’s favourite song, so you may imagine her joyrgasm when she saw this clip for the first time! Mike was a surprise guest at world-renowned violinist Robert McDuffie’s concert in the Townsend School of Music’s McCorkle Music Building at Mercer University. Mike joined McDuffie – his fellow Maconite – and his students Lily Squires, violin; Elizabeth Ehrlich, violin; Karl Mitze, viola; and Miranda Henne, cello, for a beautiful instrumental performance of “Nightswimming” (arrangement by Steve Moretti).

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28. Mike Mills & Joseph Arthur and the Lonely Astronauts – Bang A Gong (Get It On) (Abigail Kirsch’s Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers, New York City, 21 April 2009)

Here’s our Mike, supporting the good causes as ever; this time he’s performing at the Food Bank’s Can-Do Award Dinner. This annual fundraising event honours the Food Bank’s longtime partners in the fight to end hunger in the city. Mike sang the 1971 T-Rex smash in front of the audience which included the likes of Helena Christensen, Isaac Mizrahi, Jon Bon Jovi, Mariska Hargitay, Steve Buscemi and many others (including his own bandmate Mr Stipe!) Excellent singing from Mike, and he looked great too!

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29. Mike Mills & The Baseball Project – Gift Of The Fathers (La Lunera, Sos Del Rey Catolico, Spain, 7 August 2009)

Mike was pinch-hitting for Peter Buck at The Baseball Project’s show staged in a gorgeous medieval village in the Pyrenees Mountains, and took the opportunity to perform the song which he had written in honour of the baseball legend Roberto Clemente and premiered live in December 2007 at the FMC Hope For Home fundraiser show. In 2009 Mike recorded this song for the soundtrack for Howard Libov’s feature film Favorite Son, the protagonist of which is a troubled retired baseball player; hence Mike’s ballad fit perfectly into the film’s theme and mood. Scott McCaughey jokingly introduced the band as “The Mike Mills Orchestra Featuring Mike Mills”, and the featured artist said that the song is “about baseball and fathers and how the two of them are so often intertwined.”

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30. Mike Mills & Widespread Panic – (Don’t Go Back To) Rockville (Philips Arena, Atlanta, 30 December 2009)

Mike’s recent gig with the acclaimed Athens jam band Widespread Panic. Mike has already performed with them in 2000 and 2006, and here they are in Atlanta at the first of two shows staged to celebrate the New Year 2010. The song is “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville” – Mike plays a Telecaster, and the entire arena sings along with him.

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31. Mike Mills & Widespread Panic – Excitable Boy (Philips Arena, Atlanta, 30 December 2009)

Another clip from the New Year show: here you can see what the atmosphere was like inside and outside the venue (awesome!!!) and hear Mike Mills sing Warren Zevon’s kooky classic “Excitable Boy”. People who only know Mills as Stipe’s sidekick vocalist are usually surprised to discover what a talented and versatile singer he is. Too bad Mike’s always been too lazy busy to put out a solo record; but at least we are occasionally treated to his solo performances. Anyway, what a great way to welcome 2010, the year of R.E.M.’s big anniversary. We wish them many more years in the spotlight!

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32. Mike Mills – Sing Their Souls Back Home (Mike’s own home, Los Angeles, 26 February 2010)

Mike covered Billy Bragg’s song for the benefit of The Voice Project whose goal is to raise money and awareness to the plight of the women – widows, rape survivors, and former abductees – of the war-torn Northern Uganda (more info here).

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That’s all folks! Thanks for watching; I hope you liked my selection. Kudos to the lovely fans who have uploaded all these clips. And don’t forget to check out R.E.M.’s Official Youtube Channel, for promotional videos, exclusives and much more!

12 Responses to “Spotlight”

  1. Keymcgrip Says:

    My hat’s off to you, Ivana, for your fine website and this great clip collection. I’m also a great admirer of Mike and what he brings to R.E.M. Slainte!

  2. Ivana Says:

    Sláinte! Glad you enjoyed it. happy I’m constantly updating this website, adding new photos, quotes, articles and stuff, so please bookmark it and feel free drop in whenever you have some spare time!

  3. Kay in KCMO Says:

    Holy hell! In the “Wolves, Lower” footage Michael is wearing a Sigma Sigma Sigma shirt! That’s my sorority!! That’s too funny. I wonder how he got hold of it. Sure it was ::gulp:: 28 years ago, but I gotta tell you all, I’m a little thrilled. Yay Tri Sigma!!

  4. Ivana Says:

    Yay! You know what, I’ll ask my friends from Athens, some of them will probably know how Michael got that shirt. Maybe one of his sisters or girlfriends was in the sorority.

  5. tirzah Says:

    I am late in the game of being a fan and it seems pretty weird to be one but something about Mike Mills really moves me. He seems like a really nice person and watching him play is thrilling, but I digress. Thank you for this site. It has really lifted my spirits in ways I can’t really explain, but thank you so much.

  6. tirzah Says:

    I forgot to say that he is so damn cute (I can’t believe I’m writing this but WTF)……….

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