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Radiohead live in Oxford's South Park 7 July
Radiohead in general
Member Name: kenigma
Radiohead in general
Date: 09/07/01, updated on 09/07/01 (344 review reads)
Advantages: Incredible lineup
Disadvantages: 48 hours without sleep, 10 hours standing, One hotdog all day, exhaustion., But well worth it.
This was without doubt the best gig I have ever been to, Radiohead organised this for-charity gig, and it topped each of the other 15 radiohead gigs I've been to.
Here's a brief summary of my weekend...
Woke up about 8:30 on the day before the gig, and drove up to my flat to pick up my big coat which I planned to spend the night in. Met a friend who I gave a lift up to Oxford, and then we set off around 1. We got off the motorway and somehow found our way to South Park directly without having a map - I knew it was near Headington and so we found our way after asking a couple of people.
We got there around 2:30 and Radiohead had just started soundchecking. A few Radiohead message boarders were already there, and so I found a place to park and we joined them as quickly as we could, taking my sandwiches and coat with me.
It was a beautiful sunny day and there were quite a few people in the park just lying down and listening.
I climbed a tree so I could see over the 15 foot high fence they had erected all around the area, and got my first view of what was inside...I could see a fenced off area right at the front which I presumed was for the first few thousand people only...and the stage where they were putting up the massive crying minotaur banners at the time.
Did some shopping for snacks and supplies. Loitered around the production entrance and managed to catch Phil walking out after the soundcheck, and he stopped and talked for a while - looked very happy. Then Jonny drove out in his car, Thom was driven out in a car with tinted windows - very rock and roll, and then Ed got driven out and waved at the 4 of us outside with a manic grin on his face.
We never saw Colin leave, so we suspect that either he snuck out in disguise or stayed in there for ages..
We popped off to the nearest pub and had a drink before coming back and sitting in the park until about 9 when we went to the pub for our only hot meal of the t
wo days we were there.
About 10, my friend and I went back into the park and set ourselves up by the entrance fence and settled down for the night. At that point we were the only people there...
About 11:30 to midnight people started turning up, although most only to check the place out after the pubs closed. Two girls settled down for the night, and there a bunch of drunk people further down in the park who it turned out had got a tin of Dulux paint and painted "Nation" in huge letters on the fence. The reason why eludes me.
People carried on arriving in dribs and drabs all night, and by about 5 am there were about 40 people in the line up.
The crowds really started arriving from about 10 am onwards in anticipation of the gates opening at 1.
By the time the gates opened there were several thousand people there, and when they did open it was chaos...everyone ran forward to get their tickets checked and then were sprinting to get to the front. It was a longer run than I thought, and then when we got in we saw that the other entrance gate had been opened for (apparently I was told later) an HOUR before ours...
Fortunately very few people were there, and so there were about 20 people who had got in line for the front boxed off section. The rest of us sprinted down and somehow my legs and lungs carried me to the front centre of the crowd barrier, right smack bang in the middle.
We sat down with our backs to the fence and recovered slowly.
Around 1:30 I think, The Rock of Travolta came on stage an Oxford 7/8-piece (I forget now)...It was strange, the only member of the band that seemed daunted by the fact there were over 42,000 people staring at them was the violinist who looked distinctly pale.
They were pretty good - they were basically an instrumental band, and their opening pre-entrance music was extremely amusing...
they had parodied Fitter Happier and done pretty much the opposite of wh
at it says..."Fitter, unhealthier, unproductive. Drinking too much. No excercise at the gym (8 days a week)" "Enjoy a drink now and then - get pissed all the time" etc etc...
it was absolutely hilarious, and set the stage brilliantly for their entrance.
Great set, and got the crowd going.
Hester Thrale were up next and didn't get the crowd going at all...they played a rather lacklustre set and tended to avoid eye contact with the crowd at all. I suppose when there's only 3 of you versus 42,000 people or more, it would get kind of scary.
Next came quite a highlight - Humphrey Lyttleton and his band...
I think the security guards were kind of surprised by the appearance of a bunch of people old enough to be their parents on stage with jazz equipment, playing to a huge crowd of (for the most part) young people.
They were absolutely brilliant and the crowd loved them. Humphrey is quite a witty guy, and he really got the crowd going...
The highlight of the set was (if I remember rightly - bear in mind no sleep in 48 hours) a piece by Duke Ellington which involved the saxophonist circular breathing and playing for aover 5 minutes straight without a break in the music.
The cheers and the applause from the crowd were deafening when he finished...
Sigur Ros - I love their music, but it can sometimes be unsuited to live gigs - well especially for me after I'd been up all night etc...their album is incredible, but they are really more suited to relaxing in your favourite easy-chair and settling down with a mug of hot chocolate. Having said that I still thought it was a great set...although it was embarassing with the idiots in the crowd making rude comments.
Supergrass - they were pretty good, although there was a whole bunch of morons who were really violently moshing around which kind of spoiled it and made the whole set an excercise in staying upright and intact. The song t
hat they played which they said wasn't finished yet was really good...as was the rest of the set when you had a chance to pay attention.
Beck - I didn't realise until I was told the day before that it was only an acoustic set, and apparently nor did a lot of the people who came. The woman DJ on Xfm while I was driving back the next day (today as I am writing this) was pretty negative about the set - saying it was too sombre...
Now forgive me for sounding out of line, but I thought the set was absolutely brilliant. I think far too many people like Beck because he has gained a foothold in popular culture for being zany and having crazy stage shows. I've seen him twice like that - once at Wembley arena, and once at the Leeds Festival last year. DJ Swamp is incredible, as is the full performance, but South Park was more about going back to roots and he proved he can sing with the best of them. He did quite a few covers and wasn't on for long (mainly I think due to Supergrass running overtime). I, and most of the people around me at the front, really enjoyed it, and I think it is not deserving of the criticism he got.
Radiohead - what can I say? They were full of energy, they played perfectly with only a couple of glitches - Jonny having the wrong guitar in Airbag, and the organ cutting out in MPS (THANK GOD!), and they played Creep! The set was absolutely flawless, and the pouring rain near the end just added to the atmosphere...the crowd were well mannered then, and there was only a little jostling during My Iron Lung and Paranoid Android. If you want the song-by-song breakdown then there are plenty of people who've done that, but I just aim to give you an idea of the atmosphere on the day...
We got out from the front pretty sharpish before people started clamouring for setlists, picks, Jonny's Kaoss Pad etc. Headed over to the sound desk and got a setlist for my ex-girlfriend and went to the waste tent and bought a
ll the t-shirts that were new since last year, then headed out where some of the 40/50,000 people were causing traffic chaos.
After that I drove some of the way back to London listening to Xfm doing their radiohead special - went in and out of reception and came back in to hear the bootleg of Thom singing Nobody Does it Better - quite a fitting song to end an unforgettable weekend.