I have now seen Radiohead live twice and they remain absolutely the best band live. They have an amazing presence on stage, even though Thom Yorke says precious little.
The first time I saw them was at Victoria Park in London in Summer 2008. They came on to '15 Step' off their brilliant album 'In Rainbows' and Thom Yorke's voice floated out across his adoring fans in perfect clarity. As they played 'Nude', the sun was just going down and lit up the trees in such heavenly light that as Yorke's voice lifted towards the sky, the place took on a magical feel and everything was perfect, just for one blissful moment.
The best moment of the concert came with 'Karma Police' as the whole audience proceeded to sing back the chorus to the band, set against the backdrop of a stunning light show. Before the encore, the entire audience sang the same chorus back spontaneously. Incredible, incredible moment.
I was lucky as we got treated to some other classics: No Surprises, Just, Lucky.
The second time I saw Radiohead was at Reading 09. Coming on to 'Creep' I knew they wouldn't disappoint. What a privilege to hear such a song live, they hardly ever play it. Set again against a breath-taking light display, their use of the screens was just as mindblowing. In 'There There' Thom Yorke placed a minature camera right next to his eye, so there was a massive close up of his eye on the screens as his amazing piano playing and singing floated across the sea of heads.
Finding a performer who can make you feel like he's singing to you and you alone and not a crowd of thousands is a rare thing, but Thom Yorke manages it perfectly.
Go, go, go if you have the chance to see them!
Ladies and gentlemen, introducing for your listening pleasure, the one, the only - Radiohead.
Here's some of the nitty-gritty facts for you...Hailing from Abingdon in Oxfordshire, the band consists of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Ed O'Brien, Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway. They've also got seven studio albums to date - five of which have reached number one in the UK - Pablo Honey (1993), The Bends (1995), OK Computer (1997), Kid A (2000), Amnesiac (2001), Hail to the Thief (2003), In Rainbows (2007). To add to that they've also had 12 top 20 singles...thanks Wikipedia.
For those of you completely unaware of Radiohead, or at least think you are, then tracks such as "No Surprises", "Just", "Street Spirit", "Creep" and "Karma Police" you are likely to have heard at some point during your life, you just didn't realise it. For those who are fans, and those lucky enough to have seen them live, then you've experienced something great.
They've just completed performing at the Reading and Leeds festival, the former which I attended for my seventh year. This was planned to be my last visit, and there was no better way than to finish with Radiohead. Why? Well, their show is like anything you'll have ever seen. For starters, the lighting display was an incredible thing to watch which dazzled and amazed every onlooker.
Their style is hard to place, which is what makes Radiohead so unique. Their earlier stuff from Pablo Honey and The Bends is certainly more 'alternative rock', with even a hint of grunge in their, which was obviously popular around the early 90's. When OK Computer came along, and album which is often to be found in 'greatest albums of all time' lists, their experimental side started to show through, with a penchant for electronic styles with a slice of jazz thrown in there. Albums such as Kid A and Amnesiac highlight this clearly, which to many 'older' fans would perhaps not like as they've strayed from the style many fell in love with. But that would be foolish to suggest, as it shows a band doing what any band should aspire to do - move forward, reach out and break new boundaries.
Here's there set list from their performance at Reading Festival 2009...
02 The National Anthem
03 15 Step
04 There There...
05 All I Need
08 The Gloaming
09 Climbing Up The Walls
10 Street Spirit (Fade Out)
12 Karma Police
16 Exit Music
18 You And Whose Army?
20 These Are My Twisted Words
21 Jigsaw Falling Into Place
22 Paranoid Android
23 Everything In Its Right Place
Now, to an ardent Radiohead fan like myself, there's a few songs in there which mean very little to be as quite a few tracks were taken from their latest album, In Rainbows - an album which made a lot of press last year when they originally gave it away for whatever price the buyer wanted to pay. Yes, if they wanted, they could have got it for free!
That's a clear example of Radiohead breaking those boundaries I've already mentioned. Their live shows do that too. Combining several genres of music to produce an end product like nothing you've ever heard. Opening with a classic track such as Creep could almost be described as a priviledge as they rarely perform it, and songs such as Karma Police and Street Spirit will make you stare and sing along almost hypnotically. Although their electronic material may be 'harder' to sing along to, which everyone likes every now and again, it's impossible to not be impressed.
Elsewhere at Reading Festival 2009, Arctic Monkeys and the Kings of Leon headlined the other evenings, and whereas they were undoubtedly good in their own right, they failed to hold a candle to Radiohead's performance. Whereas they seemed to go through the motions, Yorke and co owned the stage. It is their theatre. We all come to watch and listen in amazement...and it's great.
I have had the pleasure of seeing the band live twice. The first time was at V festival in 2006. This was part of a small UK tour where they were not just playing the hits but also testing out new material. The setlist was:
03 The National Anthem
04 My Iron Lung
05 Morning Bell
06 Fake Plastic Trees
07 The Bends
10 The Gloaming
11 Paranoid Android
12 All I Need
13 Pyramid Song
17 Street Spirit
18 You And Whose Army?
19 Karma Police
20 Everything In Its Right Place
As you can see they rolled out the hits, even including "Creep"! The crowd was on form aswell tonight, which they always seem to be at UK festivals. This is probably one of the best gigs I have ever been to, the band played together so well.
The second time I saw them was at Rock Werchter festival in Belgium, where they played some of the rarer stuff such as "How To Dissapear Completely", "Optimistic" and "Climbing Up The Walls" - This was incredible to see live. However the crowd wasn't as good at this festival and the band were not in a good mood, Thom stated on his blog a few days after that he had been losing it the past few days and that the Rock Werchter show didn't go that great.
The setlist for Rock Werchter was :
02 The National Anthem
04 All I Need
05 There There
07 Climbing Up The Walls
08 The Gloaming
09 15 Step (Thom not being too strict on the lyrics)
10 Faust Arp (Thom: "Is it true Neil Young played here last night? Should be enough for anyones lifetime to be on the stage as Neil Young"
11 How To Disappear Completely
12 Jigsaw Falling Into Place
19 You and Whose Army?
21 Paranoid Android
22 Everything In Its Right Place
If the critics (which I suppose I should really be considered amongst by way of writing this review) are divided as to whether the Radiohead of 2003 are better or worse than the Radiohead of 1997 as far as albums are concerned, few can doubt the progression they?ve made as a live act. OK Computer was pretty much recorded live, but in the confines of Glasgow?s SECC, the few songs from that album erupted with a renewed vigour. If some have thought the Kid A/Amnesiac/HTTT tracks lacked verve on record, unleashed live, they?re like particularly vicious lions. I last saw Radiohead in Belfast in 2001 and the only superior part of Radiohead?s performance that night was the three encores to the two we were treated to on Sunday night. From the light show to the sound in the auditorium, and not least the performance, Radiohead seem to have finally grown from the confidence they had (and lost after) Glastonbury 1997. Only now, do I believe they are really appreciating their own true ability. Anyway, to the set itself? There There on record builds nicely and cooks by the time Jonny Greenwood slams his foot down on his distortion pedal. In a live setting it doesn?t cook, it burns. 2+2=5 may not be quite as radio-friendly as those who choose singles would like it to be, but when Thom Yorke declares that ?You have not been PAYING ATTENTION? at you from the microphone, you really feel the need to stand up and listen. Lucky, shimmers in the way it always has, not that familiarity breeds contempt in this instance. The pre-2000 tracks here could have been worn out by a band over-familiar with the tricks of the tracks, but instead, maybe due to the fact that they can vary the set list because of the vast repertoire, the old songs soun
d as glorious as ever. So Fake Plastic Trees makes single people wonder why they didn?t bring a girlfriend along just for those 4 minutes. No Surprises dresses up a horrible image of modern life in the prettiest package you?ll ever hear, while you still stare at Jonny Greenwood in amazement as he taps the xylophone minutes after he was ripping the shit out his guitar on the angry Paranoid Android and the wonderfully sarcastic My Iron Lung (?We are losing it / Can?t you tell??). Like fu? If there?s one piece of advice to those about to see Radiohead in 2003-4, it?s to make sure your teeth are pretty well put together, lest Colin Greenwood knocks them out with the deepest, deadliest depth-charge bass this side of a motorbike in first gear. Myxomatosis, The Gloaming and a rendition of Climbing Up The Walls that makes the album version seem like Barry Manilow covering ABBA in comparison, it?s so eerie are the culprits of the deadly bass and all the better for it. The Kid A / Amnesiac tracks are if anything, an improvement on what I heard two years ago. Back then I didn?t hear Kid A, but have the Berlin bootleg from 2000 to compare it with. The Berlin version didn?t have a confident Thom Yorke falling into fits of laughter as he conducted the crowd to sing ?We?ve got heads on sticks / We?ve got ventriloquists?, but all in all the 2003 version is an improvement and a version more ?alive? for want of a better word. However, it has to be said that a little more conversation from Yorke wouldn?t go amiss, snide remarks about G.W. Bush aside. I Might Be Wrong live, is a very different kettle of fish to the metronomic album version, with the outro given more force in this setting. The National Anthem is so good; you?d fo
rget it?s enhanced on record with those manic horns. Interestingly, the set and both encores finish with tracks from that era. I first heard Idioteque live a few days after 11 September, 2001 (presumably the only terrorist atrocity that?s ever occurred anywhere if you listen to some people, but that?s beside the point) and the words then made more sense than they ever have before or since, so tonight it evokes memories rather than impact on me the way it did. How To Disappear Completely falls just short of lifting you up off the ground and transporting you to wherever you fancy if you close your eyes for its five minute duration and Everything In Its Right Place allows you to go home with a warm feeling inside thinking of the word ?forever?. The tracks from Hail To The Thief, you would imagine would feel the freshest songs of all, but it?s not for the normal reason. Such is the reworking of The Gloaming and Backdrifts that they almost sound like different songs altogether. Where I End And You Begin remains the best song on the album and if anything the live outing increases your appreciation of it. Go To Sleep is just Go To Sleep, but it?s more fun watching Jonny go nuts at the end than merely listening to him go nuts at the end. The only song to come off worse for the night is a slow-tempo and lacklustre version of Scatterbrain. I bought my ticket for this gig so long ago, the price was irrelevant by the time I waltzed in the door (not literally, obviously) at 8:15pm, but whatever the hell it was, it was worth it, though it would be silly to pay more than face value on Ebay or outside a venue. My one regret in music is not seeing Blur live when they were still really Blur. I?ve seen Radiohead twice now, but if you haven?t seen them yet, go to the next gig you can. Ra
diohead are a special band and maybe be it for one night only, you could feel just a little bit special and very privileged too. Capital letters courtesy of: http://www.chuckleweb.co.uk/fixit.php
Lisbon 22, 23, 24 July I recently had the very great pleasure to witness the opening three shows of Radiohead's sadly brief (12 dates) Portugeuse/Spanish tour. Radiohead are using this mini-tour to unveil / test-out new songs that have yet to be recorded by them in the studio. These three gigs took place in the beautiful 19th century theatre the Coliseu dos Recreios in the centre of Lisbon. This stunning venue is rather like a minature Royal Albert Hall - in the round with boxes on the upper levels and bench seating on the lowest with a general admission floor. Being a massive fan I was determined to get to the front rail for each night and thus had to queue from ridiculously early hours in the morning. Fortunately there were many other RH diehards in the line from all over the world to chat to. In face most of the Portuguese fans did not even arrive in the line until a few hours before door opening. 22nd July: When Radiohead came on the stage the first night they immediately launched into their new songs, which were: There There, Scatterbrain, Up On The Ladder, We Suck Young Blood, I Will, Sail (You) To The Moon, Myxomatosis, The Punch Up At The Wedding. After these 8 blistering new tunes they took a short interval. Then they came back and played a full set of old stuff. This was the longest concert I have ever been to - they came on at 10pm and didn't leave the stage until almost 1am! The audience were extremely receptive of the new stuff - clapping and cheering - and the band appeared to be grateful for this. I've seen Radiohead a bunch of times before and when they're not happy (especially Thom) it does not make for a great gig. They also played a totally reworked version of the classic fan-favourite Lift. This new version is slowed down and has become more of a ballad. During Everything in its Right Place Thom jumped down off the stage and ran along the front of the audience sla
pping people's hands. I was one of the lucky ones to touch him - or should it be unlucky as he slapped my hand so hard that it hurt for some hours afterwards! I guess he was working out his aggression... 23rd July: Once again they opened up the set with new tracks (9 in total played tonight), kicking off with There There. They also played the new songs - Punch Up At A Wedding, Go To Sleep and the incredible Sit Down, Stand Up. Sit Down, Stand Up is set to become a live favourite - it totally brought the house down which is truly amazing given that this was its first public outing. Thom looked absolutely bowled over by the roar from the crowd at the end. Perhaps this is the new Idioteque? All in all this 2nd show was better than the first - the setlist being a little more finely tuned and the band having gotten over any first night nerves. 24th July: Well what can I say about this show other than it totally rocked! Up until this night my favourite RH gig had been the 2nd Victoria Park show in 2000 when the atmosphere had been top notch. But this final night in Lisbon blew that gig right out of the water. The band once again played the new songs they have been testing out from nights 1 & 2 and the only new debut tonight was Where I End And You Begin, which sounds a little like very early Cure. The new songs went down a storm as much of the audience were repeat fans and had already heard them at nights 1 & 2. There was even some singing along happening. Sit Down, Stand Up once again worked its magic on the crowd and its older "partner in crime" Idioteque was incredible - with Thom doing his funky epileptic dance and the audience all imitating him. As he had done at the first show Thom left the stage during Everything in its Right Place and walked along the front row, but this time instead of madly slapping people's hands he actually started to give people very slow meaningful handshakes. T
he first person he did it to he even gave a little bow and mouthed a "thank you for coming". I got a handshake too and he even looked into my eyes and smiled as he squeezed my hand. All in all it was a very great moment as Thom was clearly showing his appreciation for all the support and love they had received from the crowd during those 3 nights. And if you know what Thom is usually like you will realise this was an amazing thing indeed! During the final encore break the crowd erupted into football style Ole, Ole chanting and applause so that when the band returned to the stage they joyously mimed kicking a football around. The show ended with the beautiful new song Sail To The Moon (which is Pyramid Song's sister in ambience) and a rousing Karma Police. Conclusion: I've been to a lot of gigs in my life and this final Lisbon show shoots straight into my Top 5 gigs of all time. Radiohead are back and I am so grateful to be on the planet at the same time as they make this beautiful music! Long live Radiohead!
I had the privilege of seeing Radiohead at 2 out of 3 of their Victoria Park London gigs. Before them, Rage against the machine or the chilis at Wembley would have been my greatest gigs, but Radiohead blew these two bands and everyone else I've seen before/since completely out of the water. The gigs were a week before "Kid A" came out, but thanks to the joys of Napster, I had heard most of the tracks anyway. Over the 2 evenings, all the tracks from Kid A were played along with plenty of others: The bends Fake Plastic Trees Just My iron lung Street Spirit High and Dry Airbag Paranoid Android Karma Police No surprises Lucky Talk show host and probably some more I’ve forgotten After all that I was slightly disappointed as they played "Climbing up the walls" the ONE night I wasn't there but my mates were!! Most importantly of all, however, was "Exit Music". "Killing in the name" by RATM was probably the best live song I had heard before hand, and I didn't think it could possibly get any better than that. How wrong was I! The band went off stage for a short break, and then Thom came back on his own. He picked up his guitar and started strumming exit music. Blue/white lights surrounded the stage and the arena (tent), and EVERYBODY was silent. It was the most bizarre thing I have ever experienced at a gig. The silence was unbelievable. Some people tried to sing along, but were told to shut up by the rest of the crowd!! Everyone must have been in awe as much as I was. The other band members slowly joined in as the song got going, and it was probably the best most emotional 3.5 minutes of my life to date. Never have I heard such an amazing song live. Ok, so on the album the song is pretty damn great, but it is nothing, and I mean nothing, compared to hearing it live. It was completely and utterly unbelievable and indescribable unless you too hear
it. The gigs were amazing, karma police was beautiful, my iron lung, just and paranoid android were mad, idioteque was bizarre. No doubt in my mind that Radiohead were and are the best live band in the world, what I wouldn't give to see them again... Can you imagine my dismay when I was on holiday when they played the oxford gig... Thom: (starting to play motion picture soundtrack)...actually I've got a better idea...(and then the band start to play CREEP) Oh if only I could have been there for that. All I will say is, even if you hate radiohead's albums, DO NOT pass up the opportunity to see them, they are a class apart, and the experience will be like nothing you ever feel again, I promise...
For anyone that was there it was the greatest gig of all time, not only of the ones they themselves had been present at, but also of any gig, ever, anywhere in the world. You may say that I exaggerate and/or that I’m of bias viewpoint but believe me, even with this taken into consideration, this was THE greatest gig of all time. In fact it wasn’t really a gig, or a one-day festival as it was billed to be, it was a life changing experience. Every person I spoke to afterwards agreed it was the finest musical experience of their lives, and not all of these people were as big a Radiohead fan as myself. Some owned only Kid A, others were unfamiliar with any of the bands work except for the singles. Anyway, I’ll quit beating around the bush and start to describe the events that happened in South Park, Oxford on the 7th June 2001. The weekend of the Radiohead gig was the start of a two week jaunt for some friends and I to Newquay and back. Arriving in Oxford on the Friday with my friend John we were being kindly put up by another friend Fiona. On arrival we discovered we had little to no pot to smoke so our moods were not exactly ‘woohoo there’s a strawberry cream at the bottom of the box that no one has discovered!’. However, the night was passed reasonably enough… well it was until 5.00am when I was rudely awakened, not by the pigeons or the bin-man but rather from the frolicking occurring next to me. Trying to pretend I was asleep while my two friends made hay wasn’t a new experience but it was unpleasant as I was desperately in need of sleep. The people involved probably wouldn’t have wanted this information to be available for all to read. I have one response – haha. Anyways, after failing to get back to sleep, the dawn came and we all stumbled up after a good night’s ‘rest’. I decided it was time to be an extrovert and so went for the full heterosexual look of red and purple hair a
nd red sarong… oh did I say heterosexual, woops I meant homosexual. So looking absolutely stunning we walked into Oxford to meet two other friends who were going to the gig. We decided in our wisdom to buy a ticket from someone who couldn’t go anymore, thinking that we could sell it on and make a huge amount of money. An hour later we were frantically trying to sell the ticket on for face value. In the process I nearly became involved in a scrap with a tout who took offence at me asking how much he would sell his ticket for and then running off without a further word. All’s well that ends well however, and we sold the ticket for face value and the tout got arrested – Jurassic Park! So after years of waiting (quote – Pakt Like Sardines) we finally got into South Park. It was strange at first – animation world isn’t what it’s cracked up to be… ah bugger, wrong review… The first two bands came and went without anyone really paying attention – it was very festival like and everyone just sat around. In all honesty there wasn’t much to do but sit and wait, as the queues for food and drink were bigger than… well very big. After a brief session from jazzman Humphrey Lyttleton, the first ‘real’ band to appear was Sigur Ros. Although a majority of the audience began to laugh at the singer’s high pitch squawk, they laughter soon ceased and people began to understand why so many have hailed this young Icelandic band. However, it wasn’t until Supergrass came on that people began to stand up and watch properly. Even though I don’t actually own any Supergrass albums, I still have a passing interest in the band, and they seemed on good form, announcing the festival was a local one ‘for local people’. If anyone was unaware, all the proceeds from ticket sales etc, went to local charities. The only disappointment was that they didn’t play Alr
ight, but songs such as Moving and Richard III ensured everyone was now beginning to get into the right mood. By this time it was about 7.00pm and the atmosphere was building, so that by the time Beck came on stage the place was buzzing. Not being familiar with his work, it was interesting to see how Beck would shape up, and it was clear that he is an excellent musician. My friend Richard (Hazz) and I had got separated from our other friends but were now in an excellent spot in terms of viewing. Beck came and went, and it was approaching the time everyone had waited for. The next two hours in South Park saw the best gig of all time. As is now customary, Radiohead opened with The National Anthem – the perfect start to the perfect gig. The loud bassline and tortured vocals are a Radiohead trademark and as per usual this song was performed brilliantly. Whereas nobody was familiar with the new songs when I had seen the band play in Warrington eight months previously, the crowd were now familiar to The National Anthem and this greatly improved the enjoyment of the performance. The second song on the set-list further lit the fuse for the audience. The first of the six from 1997’s Ok Computer, Airbag is probably my least favourite of the live regulars taken from this album. Although I would have quite happily exchanged Airbag for say Just, Life In A Glasshouse, Like Spinning Plates or True Love Waits, it was still a good performance of the song, even though it was aborted and restarted after a few notes as Jonny had picked up the wrong guitar. The third track, Morning Bell, was not one of the standout tracks for me from the recent material but the version played that day was without a doubt the best I have heard. Lyrically about divorce, I understood the song a whole lot better that day and it was one of the songs that night that made the hairs on my neck stand. To complete the opening four-song introduction was the classic Ok Computer song, L
ucky. It was clear at this moment that there were to be many of the old songs played and as per-usual Lucky was one of the first to be played. Lucky is one of those songs that simply grow when played live, the hairs on the neck stand and it feels as though the whole world should begin to cry. It is an absolutely amazing song live, one of the best from any of the gigs I’ve been to. Thom sings he is ‘your superhero’ and to everyone in the park they were just that. Pakt Like Sardines, like Everything In It’s Right Place, is a song meant to be played live. Whereas on record it could be argued to be a bit stale, played live it is far catchier and allows the new Radiohead techno-monster to appear fully. Although it isn’t the best song of their collection it was still impressive enough for Hazz and I to turn to each other and murmur that this was the best gig we had ever been to, and probably the best gig of all time. If we had known what was to come I think we would have fainted and missed it, so it is just as well we were still unprepared. For many, 1995 album, The Bends, remains the bands finest moment. The sixth song on the set-list was to be the first taken from this album. Although many peoples favourite, My Iron Lung had never really appealed to me as much as songs such as Just and Black Star. However, like Morning Bell, the version played at Oxford was simply incredible with Radiohead proving that when they rock they rock harder and louder than anyone else does. People may think that I exaggerate and that I’m saying these versions were amazing to try and make it sound better. Believe me, I’m not. Whether it was the atmosphere that had built or the bands desire to play well for their home crowd that ensured the songs were special is unclear. Either way, there was no doubt that something special was happening. The next song to be played was a bit of a filler, something to just run by the fans in case they r
emembered it. Or maybe not. When I had seen them at Warrington, the band hadn’t played Exit Music or Street Spirit, much to my disappointment. Exit Music was the first to be played of the two that night and to see arguably their finest ‘live’ moment myself was incredible. The lights faded to blue, Thom stood alone with his guitar, the organs and church-like sounds built, and the whole sound moved from the quiet resentment of the start to the chilling, bitter ‘we hope that you choke’ line at the end. It is an absolutely stunning song, made even better when performed live, and it will be a long time before I forget the memory of watching that. Following Exit Music came new single Knives Out. Like Optimistic on the Kid A tour, this song was well known by the fans but doesn’t improve when played live from the LP version. It’s a good song but not one of the truly special moments. The next song however, is without a doubt a classic – the best lullaby in the world. Eight songs in and the band struck up their fourth Ok Computer song, No Suprises. Along with Street Spirit, No Suprises arguably features Radiohead’s finest intro to a song. Dedicated to Tony Blair (the line ‘bring down the government, they don’t speak for us’) it was one of so many highlights of the night. The range of music that the band have made had already been made apparent – The National Anthem, My Iron Lung, Pakt Like Sardines and No Suprises all completely different types of song. Ninth song, Dollars And Cents, was probably the only song on the set-list that I would have definitely taken out. It isn’t bad, it just isn’t as good as the rest of the material for me, although many disagree and believe to be the finest moment on Amnesiac. However, I will forgive the band as any feeling that the tempo was being lost was soon quashed. Thom Yorke picked up his red and yellow guitar ( Mr. technical over he
re, oh yes) and Hazz asked me what song I thought would be next. Having seen Jools Holland I had a vague recollection of a red and yellow guitar being used for Street Spirit. Amazingly I predicted correctly and like the intro of No Suprises, the classic guitar riff of Street Spirit kicked in. Songs such as that, Exit Music, Lucky, You And Whose Army and How To Disappear Completely demonstrate why so many feel touched by Radiohead. The feeling of watching Street Spirit being played live in front of you was almost surreal and, although there were 40’000 other people present, I felt completely detached from the rest of civilisation. I Might Be Wrong marked the midway stage of the set and even if Radiohead had packed up then I don’t think too many would have complained due to the high quality of the first hour. The song that has grown on me most from Amnesiac, I Might Be Wrong is fast developing into a classic for fans, along the lines of songs such as My Iron Lung and The National Anthem. It becomes darker yet more morose live, with the slow ending that is so good on the album, being quickened slightly yet not losing it’s power. Pyramid Song, first single to be lifted from Amnesiac, marked the beginning of the four-song ending to the official main part of the set. How people can accuse the band of being pretentious or having lost sight of how to make a decent tune, after hearing this song, staggers me. The weather had started to fit the atmosphere perfectly, with the first drops of what was to become a storm later in the evening beginning to fall. One classic replaced another, with arguably the best song in Radiohead’s collection following on from Pyramid Song. Paranoid Android is a beast of a song. Suprisingly, it doesn’t sound too much different played live than it does on CD – credit to the production team – yet the song is still amazing to see being performed in front of you. The slow, morose ‘rain down’
; section followed by Jonny Greenwood’s incredible guitar playing were the highlight of the song, with the only complaint being that it didn’t rain enough during that period. So obviously Radiohead aren’t perfect – they don’t control the weather like Travis do. The closing two songs of the main set-list have firmly become a double-combo move by Radiohead of electronic insanity. First up, comes Idioteque, now firmly a fans favourite, with its dance like beat and forlorn, popular-phrases lyrics such as ‘women and children first, ice age coming’. This song and the following one, Everything In It’s Right Place, provided Thom Yorke with the best moments of the night to test out his funky dancing. During Everything In It’s Right Place, he acted as a conductor to the audience and it is clear now that Yorke in particular is now far more comfortable in coping with the pressure of leading the band. It was clear during the whole night that the band were now firmly relaxed and content to play songs for both themselves and the fans. Whereas for a period they were probably discontent with all of their old music, they now seem to appreciate it as much as the new stuff. Everyone new the band would come back for the first encore, so as the rain began to build there was an increased sense of expectancy. So far the gig had been as good as it possibly could have been. The best I had been to, fifty times better than the previous time I had seen them play. Although the main section had been good, the last seven songs arguably made up the best 40 minutes of my life. When they came back out I had a fair idea what they would probably play. I knew Karma Police, How To Disappear Completely, Talk Show Host and The Bends would feature as they had in all the other gigs they had been playing. The first song to be played however, was a complete surprise. After they had played Exit Music and Street Spirit, I firmly believed that Fake Pl
astic Trees would no be getting an airing. For some reason I had this absolutely certain in my mind as I had never seen a set-list containing all three. My foresight proved to be wrong and the first song of the first encore was the classic from The Bends. One of the most popular moments of the night with most of the crowd, the ending in particular was fitting – ‘I can’t help the feeling, gonna blow through the ceiling’. One crowd favourite turned into another, as the introduction to Karma Police (one of the most recognisable to any Radiohead fan) started up. Although I would never rate it as my favourite Radiohead song, there is something about it that ensures every nerve in your body is touched when it is played live. Looking at the sky, that was beginning to throw all of the water in the world down, singing along to ‘for a minute there I lost myself’ seemed so apt. Everyone in the park was losing themselves for a few hours and having the trip of a lifetime doing it – who needs drugs? The third song of the first encore was one of the moments I had anticipated the most. You And Whose Army is probably my favourite song on Amnesiac and although I had heard it at Warrington I was not familiar with it then. In Oxford, it was as superb as it is on record and even Hazz decided it was amazing, whereas he had previously accused the song of being boring! Some people. The best encore I’ve ever witnessed continued getting better when Yorke started up How To Disappear Completely. The rain by this time was absolutely lashing down, much to the disgust of Hazz who was now effectively blinded by it, and the amusement of me. How To Disappear Completely is a song that reminds me of many things, especially the line ‘I’m not here, this isn’t happening’ and looking up at the rain falling down it did feel as if I wasn’t there – the feeling was surreal and unlike any other moment at another gig. A
lthough people may disbelieve it, there is no doubt that the 7th of June 2001 in South Park was more a life changing, or life defining moment, than simply a musical experience. As is their custom, Radiohead came back out for their second encore, and by this time the rain was absolutely pissing it down. My hair dye might not have been amused and Hazz was most displeased but I had one of the most enjoyable ten minutes I have ever had. First song to be played was Talk Show Host. This is where the hardcore Radiohead fans got separated out from the average fan. Half the crowd went ballistic, in recognition of the bands finest B-Side and song from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, whilst half were like ‘oooh this is quite good, what is it?’. The range of people attending was quite weird. One of my other mates at the gig said he heard someone ask what My Iron Lung was. Fool. So Talk Show Host came and went before The Bends closed the second, and what I thought would be the final encore of the night. For those two songs I simply stared into the rain, laughing manically as Hazz stood unamused by the side of me. ‘Where do we go from here, the words are coming out all weird’ indeed. By the end of the gig we were talking gibberish and walking in a dazed manner so the opening line of the song seemed quite fitting. The band left and I thought they wouldn’t return as Thom had spent a good minute or so thanking everyone. So somewhat prematurely we headed to the side, but as we gradually moved, a big cheer came up and they returned. Obviously we were ‘well chuffed’ and I like many expected Motion Picture Soundtrack to see us off – we were to be correct as Thom said ‘here’s a song for you to all go home to’ and he and Colin started the song. The next five minutes were as unpredictable as they were jaw dropping and life changing. The keyboard broke prompting Yorke to declare ‘ah bugger, ist kaput
yes?’ before announcing he had a better idea and called for the rest of the band. I was expecting something like Just, which had been notably absent from the set-list, and Yorke’s statement that this was ‘an old one’ further fuelled this. The next moment was completely surreal. I hadn’t expected Creep as Radiohead hadn’t played it for four years and seemed unlikely to ever do so again. When the opening chords started up I still didn’t click, until Hazz looked at me and screamed in his high pitch camp manner – ‘It’s creep!!!’. We then both proceeded to have a massive bear hug amidst going absolutely mental, as the whole crowd surged about ten feet forward and the whole crowd began to mosh. It was pissing it down, it was mental, and it was beautiful, brilliant, amazing and more. Something special had happened and we had witnessed it. When we later found our friends at the end of the gig we were all gibbering wrecks. My friend Johnny picked me up and ran away somewhere in the quicksand mud, and all we could say was ‘f**k me!’. Although I’ve tried to stress how incredible the night was, I don’t think anyone could understand or appreciate its significance unless they were there themselves. Thank you Radiohead for existing and thank you very much for 7th June 2001. SETLIST (courtesy of www.ateaseweb.com) 01 national anthem 02 airbag 03 morning bell 04 lucky 05 packt like sardines in a crushd tin box 05 my iron lung 06 exit music (for a film) 07 knives out 08 no surprises 09 dollars and cents 10 street spirit 11 i might be wrong 12 pyramid song 13 paranoid android 14 idioteque 15 everything in it's right place 16 fake plastic trees 17 karma police 18 you and whose army 19 how to disappear 20 talk show host 21 the bends 22 creep [the intro of 'motion picture soundtrack
' was played, but then they played creep instead]
"The only UK gig – no pressure!" joked Thom Yorke in uncharacteristically ebullient mood, three songs into their 2001 homecoming Oxford gig in South Park on the 7th July 2001. For a band whose music is generally noted for its maudlin qualities, spirits ran spectacularly high at the gig, and despite the weather's best efforts to put a damper on things, literally, this was a supremely memorable concert. More like a festival than a concert, preparations began for the South Park gig a good week earlier, with the erection of a huge concrete wall to section off a huge area of the park, to contain the stage, various food stalls, two huge bars, and some 42,000 Radiohead fans. Radiohead selected two local bands; Rock of Travolta and Hester Thrale, to open the gig at 1pm, and the gig soon attracted other acts, including local lads Supergrass, Massachusetts folk rocker Beck, Icelandic wailers Sigur Ros, and veteran jazz musician Humphrey Lyttleton and his band. So why South Park? Well, last time Radiohead played Oxford, way back in 1996, they put on a small show in the Zodiac for just 400 people. This time, they wanted to put on a bigger show, and there really aren't that many appropriate venues in the centre of Oxford. Most of the city's large enough areas are pretty swampy at the best of times, or dotted with trees, so they had to try to find somewhere large enough, with firm ground, and with relatively few trees in it. South Park, located to the East of the city, just alongside St. Clements, and only a few minutes walk from the city centre, conveniently met all the requirements... as well as sharing its name with a certain American TV show on which the band will be appearing in the new year. In some ways, the city wasn't prepared for the deluge of Radiohead fans that beset it. Trains stopped running at 10pm, parking was even more of a nightmare than it usually is in the city, and the coach companies failed to increa
se the frequency of their night service. So, I took the opportunity to go and stay with some old friends from the University who never left – it's astonishing how many people from the University never seem to leave again! THE DAY In the morning, I was awoken by the noise of sound checks in South Park, just a few streets away, and we made our way over there, arriving in time to catch the first of the bands on the programme. Setting up camp on a little patch of grass, we noticed the diversity of the people around us. It was a remarkably disparate audience – from middle-aged couples with picnic hampers, to groups of students, via dreadlocked hippies and geekchic T-shirted young professionals. Perhaps if anything united the audience, it was a love of khaki and olive coloured clothing! The atmosphere felt like a festival, with henna tattoo stalls, and vendors selling the usual range of foods – from burgers to noodles – arranged around the park. The first two bands, Rock of Travolta and Hestor Thrale were remarkably nondescript, I'm afraid, to the extent that I can't actually remember much about them, other than that their music was as downbeat as much of Radiohead's. They were followed by octogenarian Humphrey Lyttleton, who asked the audience whether any of them had come from Mornington Crescent... a reference no doubt lost on the majority of the audience. Lyttleton did his best to create an atmosphere in the park, knocking out some relaxing jazz melodies, and encouraging the audience to shout out "Wham! Bam!" when it was time for the double bass to kick in. Next up were the Icelanders, Sigur Ros, who greatly influenced Radiohead in the four-year gap between 'OK Computer' and 'Kid A'. Sigur Ros mainly performed tracks from their recent album, 'Agaetis Byrjun', which came as a great relief to those in the audience who had heard Sigur Ros's older stuf
f. Nonetheless, their idiosyncratic style didn't seem to really suit the mood of the audience, and didn't really lend itself to a mid-afternoon spot in the schedule. These were followed up by upbeat local rockers Supergrass, who rattled through their old favourites, except, mercifully, for the overplayed 'Alright'. Opening with an announcement that "this is a local show... for local people", their cheerful enthusiasm got the audience going again, especially with songs like 'Richard III' and 'Caught by the Fuzz'. 'Sun Hits The Sky' was dedicated to a boy from the Cowley area of Oxford who died recently. Beck's acoustic set was a little disappointing, for me. I'm not a great fan of his older, more folky songs, and inevitably that was what the set was limited to. Beck's first song included the line "looks like it's going to rain", and with that ominous statement, the sky (which had been grey and overcast all afternoon) contributed its first rumble. Fortunately, though, the rain largely held off for the rest of his set, with only a few brief bursts of drizzle. Between Beck and Radiohead, Forties and Fifties jazz played over the public address system, with highlights including Milton Drake's 'Java Jive' – the sort of stuff that the band must have listened to, to influence their new style. RADIOHEAD At 8.30pm, Radiohead came on. Crashing bass introduced the opening track – 'The National Anthem' from 'Kid A', heralding screaming enthusiasm from the audience. The setlist was largely similar to many of the band's recent concerts, largely focussing on 'Kid A' and 'Amnesiac', but with a greater proportion of older stuff (from 'OK Computer' and 'The Bends') than many of their recent gigs. The second track, Airbag, was also enthusiastically received, mainly because it suggeste
d that the band would be playing more tracks from 'OK Computer'. However, just a few notes in, and the mixing suddenly went wrong, prompting a "Bugger" from Thom, before trying again, successfully. "You can't tell we're nervous, can you?" he asked, before heading into the third song on the setlist, 'Morning Bell', slowing down the pace a bit. The band's hour-and-a-half-long set went on to include 'Lucky', 'Paranoid Android' and 'No Surprises' ("This one's for Tony!") from 'OK Computer', 'Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box', 'Knives Out', 'Dollars and Cents', 'Pyramid Song' and 'You and Whose Army?' from 'Amnesiac', and 'Idioteque' from 'Kid A'. It was a supremely strong set, performed with genuine emotion and unexpected and uncharacteristic vitality. I must confess, before going, I wasn't sure that much of the band's new music would really work in a concert venue. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the raw emotion of the songs managed to create a charged atmosphere Which is just as well, as just a few songs in, shortly after Thom's plea for it to 'rain down' in 'Paranoid Android' the heavens opened – it began to rain. Very heavily. Fortunately, the audience largely decided not to put up their umbrellas, so as not to spoil anyone's view of the stage... however, there was a lot of frantic donning of raincoats and mackintoshes. There was to be no let-up in the rain for the rest of the concert, the teeming rain adding to the atmosphere, and feeling of solidarity among the audience. For the band's first encore, they performed the awesome 'Fake Plastic Trees', which the audience sung along with, as the rain poured down around us. The encore also included 'Karma Police' and 'Everything In Its Right Place'. T
hom thanked us all, and the band felt the stage again... but surely that couldn't be it. The second encore consisted of 'Talk Show Host' (from the 'Romeo & Juliet' soundtrack) and 'The Bends', linked by Thom observing that the rain had become heavier, and echoed the thoughts of much of the audience – "Quick, quick! Next song!" Again, Thom thanked the audience profusely... but the audience weren't ready to leave yet, despite the continual barrage of rain. The band took to the stage again – this would be it, the final song. A few notes in to 'Motion Picture Soundtrack' from 'Kid A' and Thom's keyboard died. "Bugger." He twiddled a few knobs before announcing "Is kaput, ya?" So, what was he going to perform instead? "Here's something a little older..." he announced. Forty-two thousand people knew what was coming, and when the first few chords of 'Creep' started up, we knew what we'd got what we wanted. "You're special, so f-cking special, but I'm a creep!" sneered Thom, with the accompaniment of the entire audience. "What the hell am I doing here? I don't belong here," we all sang – an appropriate end to the evening! The performance was first rate, with the band playing supremely well, and Thom belting out the songs with real emotion, his eyes squeezed tight, tightly clutching the microphone. It's difficult to convey how strong the atmosphere was at the gig, but I must say, to achieve such a strong sense of unity among such a large audience is a real achievement. I was surprised at how well the band's more experimental recent tracks blended with the older, more conventional tracks. Playing tracks like 'Everything In Its Right Place' alongside 'Karma Police' just shouldn't work... but it did. Also, the newer songs seemed to benefit from the live perfor
mance – taking on more obvious acerbic properties, and sounding a lot more menacing than their crisp CD performances. Thom's grinding plea "I'm a reasonable man, get off my case" took on new sepulchral dimensions on stage in 'Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box'. It was a pity that the set didn't include 'Life In A Glasshouse' from 'Amnesiac' – particularly given that Humphrey Lyttleton had been on stage just a few hours' previously, but nonetheless, this was a supremely good set, which kept the audience in high spirits, despite the atrocious weather. Oh, and despite the fact that 'high spirits' seem oddly inappropriate for a Radiohead concert! STAGING The sound quality was absolutely first-rate, particularly for such a large open air concert. Often, audio can be horribly distorted at huge open air events, wavering dreadfully whenever there is a slight breeze. However, the arrangement of speakers at the South Park concert ensured that audio reproduction was excellent all around the field. On either side of the stage were huge screens, on which grainy black-and-white images from the stage were shown, with slow mixes between the cameras. Several cameras were generally trained extremely close to Thom's face, others looked along synthesiser keyboards and the 'No Surprises' xylophone. The resulting video was therefore not as good a reproduction of the band's on stage performance as you might have hoped, but nonetheless, presented a good artistic presentation to accompany the songs. One minor problem though was that the concrete wall around the concert venue left only a couple of exits for the thousands of concert-goers all seeking to leave at the same time. This meant an appalling scrum for the exit, followed by a trudge through the increasingly churned mud of the park. Only a small proportion of the park's gates were open, forcing co
ncert-goers to squeeze through tiny gates to leave the park itself, after charging up the slick and muddy slope toward the gate. This looked like an accident waiting to happen, so it is fortunate that no-one was seriously injured. MERCHANDISE Worthy of mention were the superb "Radiohead / South Park" T-shirts, profits from the sale of which went to various charities. One featured 'Terrance and Philip'-style animated versions of the band, in front of a giant Cartman/'Kid A' toothed bear figure. The other featured the four children from 'South Park' each with the 'Kid A' toothed bear face, saying "Um, Like, Whatever". Wear one of those – guaranteed kudos. CONCLUSIONS Radiohead's homecoming concert was an outstanding tour-de-force, with some truly excellent performances of the band's recent stuff, and some old favourites, including the rousing, rarely-revived encore of 'Creep', which was really the only way they could have ended such a fantastic concert. (Many thanks to whichever roadie broke Thom's keyboard, so he couldn't play 'Motion Picture Soundtrack'!). Yeah, the weather was dreadful, and everyone got soaked, but no-one cared... we were in it for the atmosphere, and there was atmosphere aplenty.
Whne I was a student at Oxford Poly, I chanced upon a band called the Frank and Walters who had a crap image but a fantastic collection of brilliant guitar pop tunes. they still record today but have never hit the big time. They we supported on tour by a young Oxford Band called Radiohead. I went to see the Franks as much as possible and accidentally got to see Radiohead about 4 or 5 times. Radiohead had a habit of converting the usual indifference people save for support bands into a "hang on a minute these are pretty good". I think thats as much as a support band can ever hope to do in one show. Well the third time I got to see Radiohead was in Reading. They played their set and I remember it was the first time I really paid attention. I was starting to recognise the songs (creep had just been released first time round - pre chart success) and they were great songs at that. The second to last song was something else though. I had no idea what it was but it was an adrenline filled show stopper. After the show, the band mingled with the audience giving out stickers with the "r" logo on them and generally trying to interact with the audience. The drummer came over with his strange hat on and I asked him what the song was. "Oh thats our next single" he said "Anyone can play guitar". He was really excited that I had picked up on it. It was the sort of excitement you can only get from doing something you love. I think I know why this band went on to conquer the world. To this day I dont think I ever felt so knocked out by a single song at a concert as I was with that one. Just thought I share that with you.
First of all I'll start off with a general summary of my experiences on the Radiohead tour, and then I'll do a little review of one of the 15 gigs I went to.. Being an avid Radiohead fan, I was naturally intrigued and somewhat nervous as to what I was going to hear when I was queuing up to get into their first gig in over 18 months at Arles in the south of France. It was also the first time I had the chance to see them live, so I was brimming with anticipation. Call me insane but I queued up from 10 in the morning to make sure I got a place at the front. Then again, if I’m insane then there were a lot of committable people there too. Three girls had been there since 3 in the morning the previous night and several other people had arrived in the early hours. Bear in mind here that the gates don’t open until 7 pm. There was an amazing community spirit that built up through the hours that passed until the gates to the Roman amphitheatre were thrown open and 2,000 fans made the sprint into the arena to get the best place they could. There were people who had come from all over the world to see Radiohead. There was Gabi from Argentina, Courtney from Ohio, Agnes from New York, Martha from Italy, Kim from Canada and many more besides. Some lucky tourists had arrived in Arles, discovered Radiohead were playing and managed to buy tickets for themselves. For me and all the people I met and subsequently talked to, it was a revelation. The closest I and many of the other people there had come to Radiohead was a CD in a hi-fi, and there we were in a 2000 year old building seeing the band that has been hailed as one of the best of all time and hearing their new, unreleased and previously unheard material. We felt like the luckiest people in the world at that moment in time. Sure enough Radiohead didn’t disappoint…far from it. I was up at the front by the barrier and after the thunderstorm had passed we were sure t
he concert was going ahead and the tension grew. It all seemed like a dream as the band whose music had influenced me came out onto the little stage between the stone columns. Having watched Grant Gee’s film Meeting People is Easy I had been sceptical as to whether Radiohead would ever play another gig having seen how much friction and uncertainty there had been during the OK Computer tour, but the band that came on stage were a world apart from the one I had seen in the film. Thom was happy; Jonny, Ed, Phil and Colin were full of life. The new songs have been well-documented in the months since the first gig, so I will spare you another attempt at describing them using recycled terms which do them no justice. The next day they were supposed to play in Vaison La Romaine, but it was sadly not to be. The venue was a larger Roman amphitheatre in the side of a hill which had an incredible view over the surrounding countryside and was in remote French farming country. Yet again I had arrived early to queue along with the others from Arles, and it was baking hot…so much so that I went to buy sun-cream. As the hours drifted by and the gig got closer it started to rain: lightly at first then starting to get harder. We all stood our ground – the crowd had grown to about a hundred by that point and a little rain wasn’t going to stop us from getting to the front. Then the heavens opened and ping-pong ball sized hailstones started falling. The water started flowing down from the hill above us and down the road we were lining up on turning it into rapids. The roundabout at the bottom of the hill was totally submerged at one point and cars were trying to plough through. Vaison La Romaine had a flood that killed 11 people one year, so we were getting worried. Once the hail and rain became unbearable, everyone ran and took shelter in a nearby museum. The gig was called off. Thom later posted a message on the
official message-board saying how completely gutted he had been at having to call off the gig. He knew fans had come thousands of miles in some cases to see them and had left disappointed. Talking to Jim their sound technician later I found that every effort had been made to keep the gig on, and that at one point the water had risen up over the stage and threatened to short out the equipment. After that they had to spend hours drying the equipment with hair dryers to get ready for the gig in Barcelona the next night. The next few weeks seems like a blur now…I saw Radiohead another 7 times in 3 more countries and met all sorts of people who had made the trek to see them. Far from the band being unapproachable and moody as they are often portrayed, they are extremely down to earth. During the tour I got the chance to meet all of the band members and talk to them for varying amounts of time. Thom and Jonny who would have every right to have told me to f*** off when I went up to them and asked for their autographs were really nice, and Thom even had a brief conversation with me about the previous gigs. Phil and Ed were surprisingly chatty well after midnight as we cornered them outside their hotel in Paris, and even thanked me for “all the smiles” up at the front of the gig. It all ended for me that time in Berlin in a bizarre concert hall only to begin again a few days ago in a muddy field in Newport, Wales. The first day it had rained virtually non-stop and at one point around noon, Thom had walked across the field to the tent and then back. The few people that were lined up already went over and asked for autographs and while he was signing them I asked him what was with them and rain, to which he replied “someone up there’s trying to tell us something hey?”. It wouldn’t surprise me if that someone up there wasn’t feeling rather threatened by Thom and co. There was wides
pread opinion that OK Computer could never be topped and that a break-up was on the cards, but from what I have heard of their new material they’ve done the impossible and topped it by moving off in a totally different direction. In the poll carried out by Colin Larkin, the Beatles had top spot, with Radiohead’s The Bends following, then the Beatles again and then OK Computer. Had this poll been carried out after October 2nd, then it’s just possible that it would have been Radiohead with 3 entries in the Top 5, and not the fab four. Michael Stipe once said that Radiohead were so good that it was scary…now the whole music industry will be cowering in fear at the prospect of Kid A and the rumours of the 5th album in February. The tent was rather fittingly UFO-like at night, with 3 spot-lights forming a pyramid above it and the tent itself glowing blue with orange blinking lights on top. From what everyone heard those 2 nights, it would be easy to believe that aliens had abducted the Radiohead we knew and replaced them with new people. If you missed out on Radiohead first, second, third and fourth time around then get in on the act and try and catch them at one of their gigs that they will be playing with their upcoming album Amnesiac. RADIOHEAD 2nd September Tredegar House, Newport “This is really happening” insists Thom Yorke as he spasms wildly on stage in the middle of Idioteque, the most talked about piece of new material from Radiohead in the last 3 years. Were it not for Thom’s distinctive voice you could be forgiven for staring wide-eyed in disbelief when told that the track is indeed by them. In fact many people were probably in need of reassurance that what was going on in front of them was really happening. We were witnessing the metamorphosis of one of the best bands of our time into an even better band – something that hardly would hav
e seemed possible after the universal phenomenon that was OK Computer. Believe it. At 8 o’clock the band came out to screams and applause from their second batch of 10,000 people assembled in a futuristic looking tent. Whatever the band have been doing in the last month since they finished their last tour, they have been doing it right. They all seem full of energy and enthusiasm. A stark contrast from the band in Grant Gee’s Meeting People is Easy. The evening begins with Optimistic, one of the tracks on the upcoming album Kid A. By now a lot of fans had already heard the bootlegs of most of the Kid A tracks from their recent European tour, and were singing along. Next up was the classic Airbag which had everyone moving and singing along followed by Karma Police and then another new song: Morning Bell which a surprising number of people already know from the mp3s circulating on the internet. 10,000 people are captivated as they watch the new Radiohead burst out of the chrysalis and spread their wings. For those who didn’t manage to get up the front to the primary pit, there are video screens placed in the apex of two peaks in the tent on either side on which there are black and white images of the band on stage. Some people are so captivated by the show that they are standing motionless staring with a full cup of beer in their hand, untouched since the beginning of the gig. After another new song National Anthem, a trio of classics from the back catalogue are trotted out in admirable style: Street Spirit, Lucky, and My Iron Lung, and then the tambourine and keyboard-led In Limbo – “You’re living in a fantasy” Thom tells the crowd and indeed many of them are living out a fantasy by being there. Speaking to people in the queue before the gig there were a lot of first-timers bubbling with excitement at the prospect of seeing the elusive Radiohead live. Another interesting thing was that the a
udience was incredibly diverse – there were teenagers who wouldn’t have been out of primary school when Pablo Honey came out. There was one family who had come all the way from Canada to see them. The father, the mother and the son arrived at around midday to check the place out well in advance of the 6 o’clock gate opening. There were Goths, grungers, punkers, Kevs and Trevs – every imaginable genre of person, all making the pilgrimage to see Radiohead. The set continued with Knives Out (surprisingly omitted from Kid A but rumoured to appear on LP5 which Ed O’Brien was heard to say will be released in February 2001), a thunderous Climbing up the Walls, the classic No Surprises and another new song, Dollars and Cents which again has been omitted from Kid A but is rumoured to be on the next album. The previous night, Exit Music (for a film) had been spoiled for many people by others clapping along through the haunting acoustic introduction by Thom but tonight the crowd restrained themselves and Thom’s voice went soaring into the night sky and resonated throughout the tent. Some people just stood and stared, others were openly weeping while many a “lad” tried hard to disguise their leaking eyes. It takes a lot to make 10,000 people be quiet, and there is something magical when it happens. Everyone is focussed on the voice as it turns from fragile and frightened to a furious crescendo and then into a lingering memory. Paranoid Android was up next with a great reaction from the crowd to the familiar intro and Ed’s gyrating hips. Then came Idioteque which really defies description. It’s Goa trance meets Drum and Bass meets Thom Yorke. This is the track that will have every DJ licking their lips with anticipation. Idioteque is the farthest we have heard Radiohead stretch the boundaries of their musical style and they do it with style. For all the press have said that Kid A will be co
mmercial suicide and highly inaccessible, 10,000 people loved it on first introduction. Everyone I spoke to was full of enthusiasm about Idioteque, praising Radiohead for taking such a bold step so well. We were given the chance to rrrrrock with Just up next, and then the sendoff was Everything in its right place, another surprising addition to the Radiohead arsenal. Jonny and Ed sit down on either side of the stage. Thom walks to the keyboard and starts playing. Ed sways his head in time to the beat and Thom starts singing “everything…everything…everything…in it’s right place”. Jonny plays with his little box of lights and samples Thom and plays it back creating a wonderful swirl of vocals. What followed was a delightful treat for those of us who had been in Milan for their second night there on the last tour – the full fleshed out version of I might be wrong was the first song in the encore. In Milan Thom had started out on an acoustic version of Killer Cars for a group of people who were holding a banner, but half way through forgot the lyrics and promptly retuned the guitar and said “I’m going to do a new song.” It was a catchy tune acoustically but with the rest of the band playing it was even better. Next came Fake Plastic Trees and The Bends and then the chillingly beautiful Egyptian Song with its glitterball lightshow and 3-piano-chord spine. “I jumped in the river and what did I see? Black-eyed angels swimming with me.” The tears started brimming at everyone’s eyes once again as the song progressed. As if this weren’t enough, for their second encore there was the now-familiar eerie hum followed by Thom on the acoustic guitar for How to disappear completely and never be found. The two guys who were standing behind me by the sound desk were swaying to and fro and crying. Fortunately for us it seems that Radiohead have no intention of disappearing
completely never to be found again, and far from it…are back with a vengeance.
I first saw Radiohead during their 'Bends' tour at the Student Union in Cardiff in March '95. The band were so little-known at the time that the spiky, bleached Thom Yorke was able to stroll idly past the queueing hordes outside with no harrassment. Inside, after some plucky support from Marion (no idea where they are now), Radiohead took the stage and launched into the heavy, powerful first chords of a new song called The Bends. For the next two hours my feet hardly touched the ground as I was swept along by the electric energy of a band on the cusp of world domination. Johnny Greenwood, a wild tasmanian devil-like blur of a thrashing, hairy axeman supplied the visual representation of Yorke's ear-shattering angst-ridden vocals, and the crowd was unanimous in its utter admiration. I tried crowd-surfing for the first time that night, and I'll never forget tumbling to the ground at the feet of Thom Yorke during the climax of Creep, his face srewed-up in a rictus of pain as he struggled to scream out every last gasp of breath. Although the band were young and energetic, they perfectly balanced the sonic missiles of songs such as Ripcord with counterpoints from their mellower side like Street Spirit (Fade Out) and Fake Plastic Trees. I've seen them twice since, once in '97 on the OK Computer tour, and last year in a tent as part of the Kid A tour. On neither occasion did I detect any hint that they'd lost any of their energy. In fact they've gained a great deal and become an even more competent outfit. Their increased professionalism and willingness to experiment and diversify their sound has made them even more of a live spectacle than they were when I first saw them. If you ever get the chance to see them, take it. You won't regret it and you'll never forget it. Also, they've developed a tendency to attract top support acts; DJ Shadow and Sigur Ros amongst oth
Radiohead are undoubtedly one of the best live performing bands the world has ever seen. Once they step out onto the stage there is a sense that the crowd is with them all the way. Their last concert in punchestown racecourse dublin that I was lucky enough to visit was absolutely electrofying. They were amazing and especially some of their new stuff. They had decided before coming on stage that they were going to play a lot of stuff from the bends and the crowd was well pleased with classics such as Fake Plastic trees, bones, high and dry, the bends and street spirit and to finish it off My Iron Lung. If you like radiohead go see them live no matter what the cost. They are truly one of the worlds greatest bands!
I had the great opportunity to see Radiohead live in the summer of 1997 when I was on holiday with my folkes. I must say that it was one of the greatest concert experiences of my life. They opened up, strangely enough, for Alanis and I can honestly say that I enjoyed both shows. The concert was during the height of Alanis' popularity and therefore there had to be 30,000 people at Starlake Ampitheatre in Pittsburgh. Radiohead took the stage with a bang. First Thom, the singer, said" A lot of you might not know us, we're Radiohead, from England." These were the last words he would utter, other than the songs of course, until they left the stage. Being that at the time this was my favorite band, I already knew the tunes and was happy that they opened with "The Bends." The song, sounded remarkably like the album and the first few chords from this live show still are ringing in my mind today. The highlight of the show was definitely " Fake Plastic Trees." This is such a meaningful song that I was almost brought to tears. The band played it marvelously and I was amazed at how good Thom is at hitting the high notes live. Overall, the show had some great rock tunes such as "Just", "My Iron Lung" and "The Bends." These tracks were complimented well by the playing of some slower pieces such as " Nice Dream" and "Fake Plastic Trees." The band decided not to play its biggest hit "Creep", and although this was fine by me, some people seemed a bit upset. All in all though, Radiohead sounded great live and played many favorites of mine and even added some songs I had never heard before or since. Unrelated to my concert experience, Radiohead has recently released a new album entitled "KId A". I am quite disappointed in it in many ways although it does have some good parts. First of all, it seems that this fine band has thrown their guitars away. I am al
l for a slow tune now and then, but it appears Radiohead is trying to become a lounge music band these days. Thom's lyrics are getting more indecipherable as well over time. I think " The Bends"(1995) is the greatest rock release ever made; however, the band seems to be trying to get stranger and more secluded over time. "Kid A" does have some noteable tracks, albeit slow tunes, such as " How To Disappear Completely" and "Idioteque" which blends some techno beats; however, as a whole I am disappointed. As Thom once said in a song from the bands first album, "Anyone can play Guitar." I just can't understand why the band doesn't use them anymore. If this site ever posts this for an album review I will do a full length discussion later.
I saw radiohead on the 1st of october 2000, the first night at warrington. I was astounded by the quality of the music which was heard. The set up was so advanced that the songs were as good quality as listening to them at home, except with the added advantages of a live concert. The atmosphere was amazing as 10,000 people crammed into a tent in the centre of warrington. All the classics were played, with one notable exception. Everyone was waiting for creep, and we assumed it was going to be the final track, but it was omitted for some reason. They ended with talk show host. It was the week before Kid A was released so obviously it was given a lot of air time, but that is nothing to grumble about as it is a great album. The high points for me were street spirit and Exit music which is the best song they have written to date. The running of the whole gig was very proffessional, and in conclusion it was a great night out.
Saturday at Victoria Park was my first Radiohead concert, and turned me into an ardent fan. It turned out to be completely different to what I expected. A big area was fenced off with the tent in the middle (which was more like the sort of pavilion thing you get shows in at theme parks, but much more impressive), with little food stalls all round. Very festivaly, but unfortunately with festival prices too. £5 for a plate of chinese beansprout stir fry? The whole vibe was really relaxed - well what do you expect from 100,000 desperately happy (and slightly stoned) Radiohead fans? It was a brilliant felling, being surrounded by so many people, all wearing big grins and t-shirts with my favourite bands on. We arrived at 6pm, and queued for a few minutes to get inside the fence. My bag was completely searched, although my friend sneaked in a bottle of cider (no alcohol, glass or plastic bottles allowed!) by batting her eyelashes at the security guard... I don't recommend this! There was a massive merchandising stall which was running quite well. The t-shirts, jackets and jumpers were all really excellent quality and amazingly original but also pretty expensive - £18 for a longsleeved top, £28 for a really nice jumper. It was all run by WASTE, who also retail through the Radiohead.com website for the same prices. At about 7pm, we wandered into the tent, and noticing people with pink wristbands, followed them round to the front barrier. One nice security guard took it upon himself to tell us that if we went through now then came out, we would get a band and so get a place inside the barrier! This wasn't advertised, and we only found out by pure chance. Although it was great, I got to the front barrier and wasn't a bit crushed, I would have been really disappointed it I hadn't got in and had to see people jumping around in all that space. The music was seriously loud - all my clothes and my whole body were vibrating in ti
me with the music. However, when we got outside, I could still hear, so it was quieter than the average Wembley Arena concert. Being at the front was amazing - Thom was so close! the amazingly mellow atmosphere lasted all the way through the concert. The closest anyone got to moshing was some gentle headbanging to My Iron Lung. The new tracks from Kid A (which I had recorded off XFM and so knew really well) sounded even better live, on a par with the classics (Karma Police, Street Spirit etc) which everyone went wild for. "Everything in it's right place" is an instant classic! Thom's mood improved through the concert, from a gruff "I'm not talking tonight" to a tearful "thankyou! really!" and even comments on the Czech police. At 10pm, they left the stage, but came out and played for another 1/2 an hour - great, but I almost missed the last train home! Leaving was chaotic. The only way was a minicab or the tube - ever tried to fit 100000 people in one station? The rip-off t-shirts outside were the normal rubbish, but some men were selling really good sweaters and posters for bargain prices - nowhere near the quality of WASTE though. When I bought the tickets, I was sceptical about a £25 concert. However, the electric atmosphere in the tent was priceless.
Have you had the pleasure of seeing Radiohead perform live? What did you think? Would you recommend it to someone else?