R.E.M. wrapped up its twenty-eight-date fall tour in Atlanta on Saturday night, but it was the second to last date, October 10th in Raleigh, North Carolina, that drew the most attention, as the trio was joined on stage by co-founding member Bill Berry.
Earlier that evening, singer Michael Stipe had dedicated two songs to “Mr. William T. Berry, our Number One fan.” During the encore, Berry was coaxed into singing background vocals on “Radio Free Europe,” before climbing behind the drum kit to back his former bandmates on one of their earliest songs, “Permanent Vacation,” an outtake from the sessions for 1983’s Murmur. Berry subbed for Bill Rieflin, who began working with the group earlier this year.
The appearance was Berry’s first with the band since he retired in 1997. His departure followed a troubled 1995 tour behind Monster during which the drummer required emergency surgery after he suffered a brain aneurysm. He remained with the band for its 1996 release, New Adventures in Hi-Fi, before retiring to his Georgia home, where he has kept a low profile since.
Having closed out dates for their American tour behind the upcoming compilation In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1993-2003, R.E.M. will head to Europe for two weeks of promotional duty for the album. The group has also been working a new studio set due next year.