REM rocking tonight

THEY'RE here!After months of build up and another transformation of Portman Road from football ground to concert venue, REM will take to the stage in Ipswich in only a few hours time.

THEY'RE here!

After months of build up and another transformation of Portman Road from football ground to concert venue, REM will take to the stage in Ipswich in only a few hours time.

Tonight's concert promises to be one of the biggest and best musical events the town has ever seen and looks set to go some way further in establishing the home of Ipswich Town Football Club as a stadium with the power to attract the world's greatest acts.

Crews have been working non-stop since Monday to build the stage that dominates the South Stand at one end of the ground.

Final checks are now being made to ensure that come 6pm, when support act Idlewild start off the night's musical proceedings, every thing is in place to guarantee a night to remember for the tens of thousands of fans who have been eagerly anticipating this chance to see REM perform live in their town.

And if the American supergroup's appearance at Saturday's Live 8 concert is anything to judge by, tonight they promise to deliver a blinding performance.

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Their three song-set in Hyde Park was hailed by the critics as one of the day's best with the BBC's Ian Young giving it a mark of nine out of ten.

He said: "It was arms in the air time as heart-wrenching song Everybody Hurts had the crowd spellbound.

"Michael Stipe's eerie blue face paint and freaky dancing sent a collective tingle through the whole crowd."

Meanwhile, The Mirror's Gavin Martin gave it a similar rating and said: "Their spectacular performance was full of energy and joy, proving their thoroughbred pedigree."

The band's world tour has been receiving similar acclaim at every step.

They have already visited dozens of countries the world over and come to Ipswich on the latest British leg of that journey.

Last month they played Old Trafford in Manchester where the Manchester Evening News rated the concert as "two hours worth of class and classics".

And when Evening Star reporter Meyrem Hussein travelled to see the band in Birmingham in February for a sneak preview of the kind of show fans will be seeing tonight, she said: "Ipswich has much to look forward to."

REM have been making music for 25 years, since, university dropouts Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry, who has since left the band, made their live debut in Athens, Georgia.

In the two and a half decades since they have emerged as one of the world's greatest rock bands with an impressive back catalogue of classic singles and albums, many of which will feature in their set tonight.

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