On the first day of March this year, I became one of the few exceptionally happy music fans to snap up a general admission ticket to catch the tour of the year.
Radiohead, were back. The band, frequently heralded as the greatest thing to happen to music, were coming to our shores after a run of festival dates and an extensive world tour supporting their eighth, experimental, release, The King Of Limbs.
Let me tell you now, I had every reason to be.
All those months of playing Radiohead’s music on repeat, came to fruition when I managed to get to the centre of the front row of the mosh pit.
I didn’t realise the gravity of my position in the pit until psychedelic king, Tame Impala-esque wunderkind Connan Mockasin finished his support slot, thanking the audience for clapping in a self-deprecating manner. He knew that he was just filler, in the eyes of most fans anyway, for the magic that was set to sweep over us.
The arena went into blackness at about 8:30 and it was then that I was overwhelmed with a variety of emotions as Thom Yorke and co. waltzed out on stage in a nonchalant manner, giving the crowd a wave, before bursting straight into the reverberating bass line that is “Lotus Flower” from their latest release. This was quickly followed by the rhythmically complex “Bloom” and Hail to the Thief classic, “There There”. The final show of this tour was off with a bang!
In all honesty, and I say this having seen a lot of bands live, I’ve never seen a band better than Radiohead. Everything they did exuded class and charisma. Every note was in perfect harmony as the mix swirled around the crowd, uniting us all in a fit of euphoria. Johnny’s guitar rang out with the crisp tone we’ve learned to expect from him whilst Ed’s impressive backing vocals, wailed into our very souls on “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”. The two drummers Radiohead brought with them were in perfect synchronization all night. Mainstay drummer Phillip Selway was joined by Portishead alumni Clive Deamer who helped fill out the complex percussion lines in the band’s newest body of work.
The set did draw largely from new material, which does make some fans a little cranky, unjustly in my opinion. Even as a mad fan of The Bends, their sophomore release, I can understand that the band need to move on from those tracks which gained them their initial following and develop into the band they are now.
Honestly, their new stuff is better live anyway, “The Daily Mail”, only recently released as a two track, was a highlight of the set, as an upright piano was wheeled out and Thom melancholically allowed the chords ring out and his voice to direct the melody. “Ful Stop”, a track that hasn’t even been recorded yet, turned out to be one of the most amazing performances of the evening as guitars clashed in ways I’d never seen before.
Indeed, the band only played three tracks from the 90s (no “Creep” here folks) including rarity “Exit Music (For A Film)” and another one of my favourite tracks “Planet Telex” with the majority of tracks comprising work from The King of Limbs and In Rainbows.
No review of Radiohead is complete without mentioning their magnum opus, “Paranoid Android” which lifted the roof off of the sold out auditorium as it broke down. The main set ended with the rockin’ “Bodysnatchers” and we eagerly anticipated the encores to begin.
We weren’t disappointed as Radiohead brought us eight more tracks, including the ever wonderful “Pyramid Song” and “Idioteque” before closing with staple, “Everything In Its Right Place”.
I repeat that no words that I use here can aptly describe what I experienced on this evening. It was truly magical. There’s no doubt in my mind that whenever I have the opportunity to see this glorious band again, I will.
I implore you to do the same. Everyone has to witness Radiohead once in their life.