UNTIL LAST year's album Up appeared, a question mark hung over the future of REM (right) and it certainly seems as if Michael Stipe is now leading the band in a new direction. Having campaigned vigorously on behalf of Tibetan monks and done some production work on Velvet Goldmine, it may be that Stipe is tiring of rock stardom. But whatever the future holds, fans are sure to flock to this summer's gigs to hear the full repertoire of hits from this blockbuster indie band.
Earl's Court, London SW5 (0870 9039033) 23-24 Jun; Manchester Evening News Arena (0161-930 8000) 17 Jul
SCOTTISH AUTHOR Irvine Welsh brings stomach- churning action to a stage-frightened audience with You'll Have Had Your Hole. Directed by Ian Brown, the play is set in an abandoned recording studio and centres around the kidnap of a small-time gangster, and includes drug-taking, torture and, of course, passion. Gratuitous or provocative; the critics may be divided, but Welsh has enough sparkle in his writing and a sufficient cult following to ensure success.
Astoria 2, Charing Cross Road, London WC2 (0171-434 9592) to 27 Mar