Michael Stipe plays plays surprise debut solo gig in New York – watch

Stipe played six-song set as support to Patti Smith...

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Stipe played six-song set as support to Patti Smith…

Michael Stipe played a surprise solo show in New York on December 29, for his first concert since REM split in 2011.

Stipe was the unannounced support act for his friend Patti Smith’s show at the city’s Webster Hall venue. Backed by two musicians during his six-song set, Stipe played keyboards – an instrument he rarely played live at REM’s concerts.

The show featured REM obscurities “New Test Leper” from 1996’s album New Adventures In Hi-Fi and “Saturn Return” from 2001’s Reveal, plus four covers – Vic Chesnutt’s “Lucinda Williams”; Patti Smith’s 1996 song “Wing”; Frank Sinatra’s standard “New York, New York” and Perfume Genius’ 2012 single “Hood”. Fan footage of Stipe singing ‘New York, New York’ can be seen below.

Stipe has previously remained coy over his plans to return to music and has implied he’d rather stick to his work in photography and visual art than attempt a solo career, saying a solo album would “most likely be watered-down REM“. But in an interview with US TV channel CBS’ show ‘This Morning’ earlier this month (December 14), Stipe said: “I think I will sing again. Not soon, maybe. I don’t know.”

You can read the story behind the making of REM’s classic breakthrough single “The One I Love” in the new issue of Uncut: in shops now

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