PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 March, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 March, 2005, 12:00am

Sunday, 8.30pm

Convention and Exhibition Centre

It's a double bill that makes Hong Kong seem like the entertainment capital of Asia: the final of the Rugby Sevens, and R.E.M. playing the only Southeast Asian date of their world tour.

Named after the rapid eye movement of dreaming, R.E.M have proved to be perennial kings of rock during a 25-year career, since emerging in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 with their post-punk ideals and underground spirit.

The band - comprising frontman Michael Stipe (above), guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills - are widely regarded as one of the world's top live acts.

Their hits include Shiny Happy People and Losing My Religion, and they've influenced such bands as Radiohead and the White Stripes. But things haven't been so sunny for the band during the past year.

First, there was their enthusiastic backing of John Kerry in the US presidential election - and the disappointment that brought. Then their latest album, Around the Sun, their 13th, received a lukewarm response from the music press.

This was the band's first release since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Despite Stipe's lyrics questioning the role of the US, some critics dismissed the music as a rehash of old anthems.

Nonetheless, with an artistic stage show and an incredible live sound, R.E.M have been thrilling audiences from London to Cape Town.

Whipping through a set that's expected to combine tracks from their new album with old hits, R.E.M are likely to give Hong Kong one of its greatest gigs on Sunday.

$388, $488, $688, $888 HK Ticketing and Tom Lee. Inquiries: 2838 8384