November 12, 2008 / 5:39 PM / 10 years ago

R.E.M. makes last Brazil gig an Obama celebration

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - R.E.M. turned the last concert of its Brazil tour into an “Obama-fest,” complete with giant images of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama to celebrate his historic victory at the polls.

Michael Stipe of R.E.M. performs during Budapest's Sziget Music Festival on an island on the Danube River August 16, 2008. REUTERS/Karoly Arvai

The politically outspoken band, whose songs have sometimes savaged U.S. policies, has made no secret of its support for Obama throughout a tour of South America that has taken it to Colombia, Chile and Argentina.

During the Sao Paulo show, an image of Obama’s smiling face was projected onto a giant screen with the words “Obamatic for the People,” echoing R.E.M.’s 1992 album “Automatic for the People.”

“We’re very happy that Barack Obama will be our next president,” lead singer Michael Stipe shouted to the crowd of about 6,000 people that packed the venue on Tuesday night.

Obama defeated Republican John McCain in the U.S. presidential election last week and will take office in January.

R.E.M. went through hits like “Ignoreland,” a scathing commentary on the Iran-Contra scandal under the 1980s administration of President Ronald Reagan.

The track “Man-Sized Wreath” from the band’s new album “Accelerate” attacks President George W. Bush’s visit to late civil rights leader Martin Luther King’s grave in 2004.

R.E.M. found a sympathetic audience in Brazil’s biggest city where, as in the rest of South America, Bush is widely unpopular.

“It’s a new era starting with end of the Bush government, and that was reflected in the show,” said 33-year-old lawyer Luciano Figueroa.

Reporting by Fabio Murakawa e Tatiana Ramil; Writing by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Todd Benson and Bill Trott

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