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R.E.M. returns to the road

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The date: May 16. The place: Mountain View’s Shoreline Amphitheatre, outside San Francisco. The scene: R.E.M.’s second night back on tour following drummer Bill Berry’s ruptured aneurysm. Five songs into the group’s set, lead singer Michael Stipe turned toward Berry and inquired, ”How you feeling, Bill?” Fans showered Berry — who was stricken on March 1 during a performance of ”Tongue” at the Patinoire auditorium in Lausanne, Switzerland — with applause, and Stipe promptly dubbed the road show the Aneurysm ’95 tour. Although Berry had the brain surgery, it was Stipe who had to refer to lyric sheets throughout the concert’s set, confessing, ”I had three months to memorize them, but I jerked off instead.” Encouraged to go back to work by his doctors, Berry says he has no residual symptoms but adds, ”I get real nervous when we play ‘Tongue.”’

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