Generally favorable reviews - based on 11 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 11
  2. Negative: 0 out of 11
  1. A tighter, cleaner band than the scruffy renegades of the '80s, but still the same band, which is evident here in ways it never was on the perfectly fine R.E.M. Live. That was a production. This is rock & roll.
  2. Mojo
    Clearly the thrill of hearing new songs in their embryonic state could never be replicated, but as rendered in such pristine isolation even the cavalier back catalogue selections (rarely played early classic 1,000,000;one-that-got-away Romance) fell flat. [Dec 2009, p. 95]
  3. It’s a bold, enchanting and captivating record that is of genuine interest to hear, as opposed to a long drawn out chore, which an album like this it could have so easily been.
  4. The band sounds like it’s trying to rejuvenate itself, thus injecting the release with a certain energy and vitality that "R.E.M. Live" lacked.
  5. While the recording and performance are at times a little ragged in voice and tone, the band’s earlier semi-punk instincts ring through and its taste remains impeccable.
  6. The notion of a 2xCD set of rehearsal recordings smacks of unnecessary indulgence, but whether you take this as an alternative canon of R.E.M. music or a document of a band working hard to find its future by revisiting its past, the album is successful in providing a new perspective on a classic group desperately in need of a new narrative thread.
  7. Q Magazine
    Live At The Olympia more than stands up as a vital, vibrant document in its own right. [Dec 2009, p.118]
  8. The stitching is tighter now, and drummer Bill Rieflin often holds things together too neatly. But when songs fray--see 'Harborcoat'-- it's the sound of imperfection perfected.
  9. Given the quality of the performances and the depth of the song selection, Olympia is not simply a for-fans-only vanity project or an excuse to revisit an album that's just over a year old, but it stands as an essential addition to R.E.M.'s catalogue.
  10. Though it isn’t a concept album, Live At The Olympia does tell a story about the remarkable staying power of one of the best rock bands of the past 30 years.
  11. 80
    In 39 tracks over two CDs, the punk-fuelled folk-rock group that had ruled the ’80s along with U2 magically reappears.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 20 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 20
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 20
  3. Negative: 2 out of 20
  1. Mar 29, 2012
    Although technically a live album, as the sleeve of the album states "This is not a show". Recorded over several nights in Ireland's bestAlthough technically a live album, as the sleeve of the album states "This is not a show". Recorded over several nights in Ireland's best venue to see a band, The Olympia in Dublin, this was a mini residency where REM worked on and tested out new songs that were to appear on their forthcoming album Accelerate. Along with work in progress versions of Accelerate tracks, this double album has tracks from throughout the bands career. There are very few of their massive hits on this with Drive and Electrolite the most widely known. The majority of the material comes from their pre Out of Time era. The quality of the songs is amazing throughout, the standard of the recording is excellent and the band are in top form here. A couple of the songs have interesting explanations about their origins as well. The older stuff still sounds amazingly fresh and vibrant. Not so sure it's a record you'd give to someone as an introduction to REM but for the many fans of the band already out there it's a must, have especially now that the band are no more. Full Review »
  2. MiguelA.
    Oct 30, 2009
    Amazing live album, great set list, good sound and top performance.
  3. JimmyR.
    Oct 30, 2009
    A real treat for fans, and a great intro to the band for new fans.