After a four-year absence from the road, R.E.M. have begun to set dates for a 2003 world tour. The first set of appearances begin with a June 27th stop at the Glastonbury Festival in the U.K. Eighteen stops, predominantly festivals, have been set throughout Europe, to wrap July 26th in France.
The European run will be followed by a set of North American dates in the fall, R.E.M.'s first extensive tour since the release of Up in 1998. That outing was the band's first without co-founding member and drummer Billy Berry. R.E.M. enlisted drummer Joey Waronker, and multi-instrumentalists Scott McCaughey and Ken Stringfellow to fill out the sound, and the three have been playing with the group since.
"I think the tour in 1999 made us realize that we're a different band, but we're still a band," guitarist Peter Buck said. The group made several promotional appearances behind its last album, 2001's Reveal, but didn't set a full touring schedule. Buck, frontman Michael Stipe and multi-instrumentalist Mike Mills have been in Vancouver working on the follow-up to Reveal, which is scheduled for release next year.
"We have been locked up in the studio and are anxious to see the outside again," said Stipe. Added Buck, "My kids have been asking me for the past couple of years, 'When do we get to go back on the tour bus?' So I am really excited about next summer and fall, especially that we will finally get to play Warsaw and return to Glastonbury."
Also on the docket for 2003 is a new R.E.M. "best of" compilation, though details have not yet been set.