After a three-year absence, the biggest band in the world is going back on the road. U2 appeared at a press conference in New York today to announce their 1997 "PopMart" tour--a 62-city world tour to support the band's upcoming Pop album.

In case you've been ignoring your radio--and the omnipresent thump of the single "Discotheque"--U2 is following the techno-influenced Zooropa with their version of Brit-hop dance music, inspired by bands like Prodigy and Underworld.

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QuickTime|AVI|Don't KnowAppearing live from the lingerie section of a Manhattan Kmart, the boys broke out their instruments and debuted "Holy Joe" before giving the details of their itinerary. The foursome figured Kmart had the perfect aesthetic for their latest phase (Kmart...PopMart, get it?). "We believe in trash. We believe in kitsch. That's what we are up to at the moment," said the Edge.

U2 loves to put on eye-popping shows, so it's little surprise the PopMart tour, complete with the "World's Largest TV," will kick off in Las Vegas on April 25. The band will play North America though June before heading abroad. After a European swing, including a special stop in Sarajevo, the band returns to this side of the Atlantic for its fall shows before taking a break in December.

The quartet will resume touring in 1998 and play another 40 or so shows. Promoters say the band will entertain more than one million fans worldwide.

Music observers anticipate quick sellouts for U2, but caution that some fans might not warm up to the band's new musical direction. "Expectations are certainly high quite high for this tour...It's without a doubt the highest profile tour of the year--the only stadium tour so far," said Gary Bongiovanni, editor of the concert trade Pollstar.

"But until tickets go on sale, it remains to be seen how popular it will be. It's hard to gauge sometimes with bands that tour on two- or three-year cycles how much of their audience remains in place."

Tickets to most of the U.S. shows go on sale this Saturday, February 15. Tickets are at the low end of the stadium-rock scene, at $37.50 and $52.50 a Pop. The PopMart tour will be sponsored by MTV and VH-1.

The band's 11th album hits stores March 3, featuring "Discotheque," "Do You Feel Loved," "MoFo," "If God Will Send His Angels," "Staring At The Sun," "Last Night On Earth," "Gone," "Miami," "The Playboy Mansion," "If You Wear That Velvet Dress," "Please" and "Wake Up Dead Man."

The band also announced it's working with AOL to produce a "cyber-presence" later this year.

(Updated 3:45 p.m. PT)

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