After previously announcing and then canceling plans to tour in support of their latest album, R.E.M. have decided to go ahead this summer with their first international tour in more than four years.
The string of European and American dates kicks off June 17 with a show at the Pavilhao Atlantico in Lisbon, Portugal.
"A lot of it had to do with the promo tour...," bassist Mike Mills said Monday (Feb. 8), regarding the band's promotional outing last fall in support of their latest LP Up. "Those shows were so much fun to play and we felt good enough where we were as a band that we wanted to go on the road again."
The tour, the first set of dates in support of last year's record, will hit the U.S. Aug. 9 with a pair of dates in Los Angeles at the Greek Theater. The U.S. portion of the tour will run through early September, including a three-night stand in the band's home state of Georgia and a tour-ending gig in Boston on Sept. 11.
Heading into their first album sessions without founding drummer Bill Berry -- who quit the group in 1997 -- the three remaining members of R.E.M. announced last spring they planned to embark on a large-scale tour in support of Up. Then, in September, the band said it had decided against touring, explaining that, among other reasons, they didn't feel right playing without their original drummer. It would have marked the second time in their career that R.E.M. had not toured behind two consecutive albums.
"We had a really nutty year-and-a-half," singer Michael Stipe said in a prepared statement. "And had nothing going on this summer. We had a great time in the fall doing promo shows, we love the record ... and we're really excited to play."
R.E.M. last mounted a full-scale tour in 1995 for their album Monster. It was on that outing that Berry suffered a potentially life-threatening brain aneurysm during a performance in Switzerland. He later said the illness contributed to his decision to leave the group.
Instead, the group scheduled a five-week series of low-key promotional television appearances to be aired in the U.S. and Europe. They included an appearance at last fall's Bridge School Benefit, organized by Neil Young, and, most recently, a spot on the children's television show "Sesame Street."
The band -- which also includes guitarist Peter Buck -- was joined on its promo tour by Beck drummer Joey Waronker and multi-instrumentalists Scott McCaughey and Ken Stringfellow, who also will be along for the upcoming dates.
The European portion of the tour also marks the first set of indoor U.K. gigs by R.E.M. in more than a decade.
During the previous European promo tour, Mills explained the band's impetus behind wanting to play the new material live.
"When it comes to playing live and trying to reproduce [the songs], you pick up the most important things, the essential elements, and when you have a bass and drums and guitar, it tends to rock out more," Mills said.
"We are, after all, a band, and we like to perform," Stipe added.
R.E.M. released their most musically experimental album, Up, Oct. 27. The 11th studio effort in their 17-year career, the album features a number of tracks with drum machines and psychedelic touches, as well as featuring the first lyric sheet ever to appear in one of the band's albums.
Up has sold more than 1.5 million copies overseas since its release, cementing a pattern that began with 1991's Out of Time, in which the group's albums consistently have sold better overseas than in the U.S.
R.E.M. Tour Dates:
June 17; Lisbon, Portugal; Pavilhao Atlantico
June 19; Madrid, Spain; to be announced
June 20; Vigo, Spain; Recinto Playa de Samil
June 22-23; London, England; Earl's Court
June 26; Essen, Germany; Georg Melches Stadium
June 27; Frankfurt, Germany; Neu-Isenburg Stadium
June 29; Hannover, Germany; Maschsee
June 30; Berlin, Germany; Wuhlheide
July 2; Roskilde, Denmark; Roskilde Festival
July 4; Werchter, Belgium; Werchter Festival
July 5; Paris, France; Bercy
July 6; Montreux, France; Stravinski Auditorium
July 8; Vienna, Austria; Staatsoper
July 9; Budapest, Hungary; MTK Stadium
July 11; Bologna, Italy; Dallara Stadium
July 13; Munich, Germany; Horse Riding Stadium
July 14; Zurich, Switzerland; Hallenstadion
July 16; Dublin, Ireland; Lansdowne Road
July 17; Manchester, England; Nynex Arena
July 19-20; Stirling, Scotland; Stirling Castle
Aug. 9-10; Los Angeles, Calif.; Greek Theater
Aug. 11; Irvine, Calif.; Irvine Meadows
Aug. 13; Moutain View, Calif.; Shoreline Amphitheatre
Aug. 15; Denver, Colo.; Red Rocks Amphitheater
Aug. 17; San Antonio, Texas; Retarna Park
Aug. 19; St. Louis, Mo.; Riverport Amphitheatre
Aug. 20; Chicago, Ill.; The World
Aug. 21; Minneapolis, Minn.; Midway Stadium
Aug. 23; Detroit, Mich., Pine Knob
Aug. 24; Toronto, Canada; Molson Amphitheatre
Aug. 25; Cleveland, Ohio; Blossum Music Center
Aug. 27; Raleigh, N.C.; Walnut Creek Amphitheatre
Aug. 29-31; Atlanta, Ga.; Chastain Park Amphitheatre
Sept. 2; Seattle, Wash.; Bumbershoot Festival
Sept. 4; Long Island, N.Y.; Jones Beach Theater
Sept. 5; Washington, D.C.; Nissan Pavillion @ Stone Ridge
Sept. 6; Holmdel, N.J., PNC Bank Arts Center
Sept. 10; Philadelphia, Pa.; Sony Music Entertainment Center
Sept. 11; Boston, Mass.; Great Woods Amphitheatre