As the sun reached it’s climax, rock and roll’s most adored and equally feared band, Radiohead, took the stage on the edge of Lake Michigan, in Chicago Illinois. The five lads from Oxford who penetrated America with the smash single “Creep” so long ago, performed a precious 2 hour, three encore set of new songs from the Amnesiac album, and a few flashbacks from the Pablo Honey romance. I was there for the entire show, and if you care to learn more about Radiohead’s live experience, click more to see what I heard.
Without any introduction or greeting the audience, Radiohead tore into a ferocious version of “The National Anthem”. Chills flooded my body and goose bumps flew in from all over and made residence on my skin for the duration of the song. I honestly could have left after ONE song, but decided to stick it out and hear what the kids had to say and play. Thom Yorke took off the guitar and sat down in front of his piano for a sparkling rendition of “Morning Bell”, followed by “My Iron Lung”, “Karma Police”, and “Knives Out”.
The band decided to rip into “Permanent Daylight’”, a B-sdie from the “My Iron Lung” single which struck a bedazzled chord in the faithful audience. When the song finished Thom asked, “Have we lost you yet?”
Phil Selway, the clean domed drummer, loaded up the padded drum sticks for “Optimistic”, which sounded as good live as the first time I heard it on XRT. Jonny Greenwood introduced the next song via his keyboard with a slide string thing, that I obviously wish I knew the name of. The eerie opening morphed into the harmonious rapture “How To Disappear Completely”, which brought the speed of the show down just a bit, and made for an excellent half way mark. Even though that song appears on Kid A, it’s a lot older than that, as people who have seen the Meeting People Is Easy video can attest to. However old it is, it’s one of my favorites and listening to it was like infinite heaven.
A friendly haze of purple lights attacked our retinas to begin “Dollars And Cents”, which was the first real use of the outstanding light show the kids set up. “No Surprises” was nice to hear, but nothing was as shocking as “Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box”. Radiohead took the simple lead off track from Amnesiac, dunked it in a tank of water, then plugged in a hair dryer and tossed it in to let us hear the effects. The fuzzed out version should be recorded and saved in the Smithsonian so aliens can hear how advanced our race is – it was THAT good.
“Talk Show Host” was the next placebo, followed by some fun and games by Mr. Yorke. A posse of cameraman were placed everywhere through the venue, taking weird and up close pictures of the band as they played. Thom sat at his piano with his back to the audience and began to play “Pyramid Song”. A tiny camera was placed directly in front of Yorke’s face and he took full advantage of the situation and made some silly throughout the song, then turning back to the crowd as if asking” what are you all laughing at?” Thom suggested that the next song was dedicated to the moon, and all of the men who have problems (with extreme werewolf facial hair) when the moon strikes the Earth. “Paranoid Android” was the next masterpiece by the way, which needed a do over when Thom forgot the first couple of words to the song.
The entire band (including Colin) put on their dancing shoes and shook their “bums” for “Idioteque”, which was followed by “Everything In It’s Right Place” where Jonny recorded and redistributed Thom’s vocals using a sampler / mixer for the duration of the song. When the song reached it’s pinnacle, Thom just took off and the band shortly followed.
Encore #1. “Lurgee” from the first album that America heard, Pablo Honey. That of course is the band’s second proper album, as their true first CD never saw the light of day on our sacred American soil. “I Might Be Wrong” resuscitated the crowd who were seeking some new music from the band, and “Climbing Up The Walls” brought back the love from the OK Computer treasure. Thom went back to his trusted piano, and super zoom face camera to perform “You And Whose Army”. Smiles, gum chewing, and boogie down dancing was what Mr. Yorke was all about last night, and to see him happy as he made the crowd happy was a really super cool sight.
Encore #2. This set started with “Lucky” followed by the charming and inevitable “Fake Plastic Trees” . While the song sread across the Chicago skyline, the 20,000 plus in the audience sat quiet and motionless while Thom did his damage. It was as if we were in church and the preacher was god damn preaching away!
Encore #3. Thom alone and acoustic banged out “True Love Waits”, yet another B-side, along with “Street Spirit” from the Bends.
The only other time that I fell victim to Radiohead was when I interviewed (and threatened to fight both of the Greenwood boys) while rocking the morning mic at WPBZ in 1997 for the Tibetan Freedom Concert which was held on Randall’s Island, NYC (which I also attended). In my opinion, Radiohead have graduated to become one of the elite musical outfits of our generation. I am glad that they have overcome the convictions of modern day guitar, drum, bass sounds (although I support that 100% percent), I feel that Radiohead are making something new and exciting for us to feel, breathe, and love as well as listen to and enjoy. I thank Gary Spivack from Capitol for getting me into the show, although I sneaked in the V.I.P tent on my own deviant behavior. I have fallen victim to everything that Radiohead has created, and I feel fine.
The National Anthem
My Iron Lung
How To Disappear Completely
Dollars and Cents
Packt Like Sardines In A Crushd Tin Box
Talk Show Host
Everyting In It’s Right Place
I Might Be Wrong
Climbing Up The Walls
You And Whose Army
Fake Plastic Trees
True Love Waits
Source: Jason Anfinsen