R.E.M. have taken another step toward not becoming XTC by announcing their first U.S. tour in four years.
The outing, which will begin June 17 in Lisbon, Portugal, and conclude Sept. 11 in Boston, will span fifteen countries and include forty-five performances. The tour also will mark the first without original drummer Bill Berry, who will likely be supplanted by current Beck drummer Joey Waronker.
Since 1989, R.E.M. have launched full-scale tours only twice (in support of 1988's Green and 1995's Monster, yet the band released six studio albums in that span. Until the announcement of this tour, it was beginning to look like it was the end of the tour world as R.E.M. knew it. But, as bassist Mike Mills said of the upcoming shows, "It's why I'm in a band. Playing live is as good as it gets."
Another reason for R.E.M.'s decision to dust off their amplifiers and mandolin may be to bolster the thus-far unimpressive sales of Up, which, since its October release, tally a tepid 750,000 copies despite strong critical praise and the release of three singles ("Daysleeper," "Lotus" and "At My Most Beautiful"). Frontman Michael Stipe's spin, however, doesn't take the band's coffers into account. "We had a really nutty year and a half, and had nothing going on this summer," he said. "We had a great time in the fall doing promo shows, we love the record and we're really excited to play."
Reportedly, R.E.M. fan club members in "good standing" by Feb. 1 will be able to purchase tickets to shows before they go on sale to the general public, marking the first time the band has ever offered this accommodation to die-hards.