If you love Radiohead, then you've had this conversation:
Hater: “I don't know about Radiohead, man. I just don't get why people are so into them.”
Fan: ”Wait, what? Why are people into them? Because they are fucking awesome!”
Hater: “Yeah, I've heard that. But, like, it just sounds like a bunch of noise to me. I mean, that one song 'Creep' is OK. I like that one, I guess. And 'Fake Plastic Trees'? I can do that one.”
Fan: “'Creep'? For real? That song is 20 years old.”
Hater: “I know, but you can sing along with it and understand what the dude is saying. The other songs are just ... meh ... I don't get it. I'm not a music snob like you are, OK? Guh.”
So no show in recent memory garnered as much advance buzz and bragging ("Hey, bro, I got my Radiohead tickets. Did you get yours? Oh, no, my bad ... it's sold out...”) — and as much pre-emptive whatever hostility — as Radiohead's last night.
This one was for the fans, not the haters. Especially for those who swore we'd wait it out before giving in and heading to St. Louis or Denver in the past, fans of Thom Yorke and co. were duly rewarded last night by a band that last played these parts 16 years ago.
The set list was heavy with cuts from the band's 2011 release, King of Limbs (an album that had no singles, sampled previous Radiohead albums and was the shortest of the band's catalog). But even those disappointed not to hear favorites like “The Tourist” or “You and Whose Army?” had to admit that the riveting spectacle onstage was enough to make one forget ... well, just about everything.
The stage was backlit with color-changing LEDs (blueish for “Pyramid Song,” red, yellow and orange for “All I Need”). Ten to 12 video screens projected live images of the band during each song. Occasionally, they would lower all the way and produce their own ethereal glow. Sometimes the images were hazy, shadowed or blurry, but somehow they still perfectly captured the performance, conveying the band's striking sexiness.
Hair in a ponytail, Yorke danced spastically and spoke just enough to get the audience to want to hear more. He sounded humble. “Today is a random day ...” he began before the band launched into “Identikit.” He proved it by stopping a few measures in with an “awwww, sheeeeiiit ...” because something was off.
“How to Disappear Completely,” the tour debut of the Kid A track, was more uptempo, while “Reckoner” seemed more understated than the original version. The beginning of “Everything In Its Right Place” had people fooled at first. “Man, when they play that first part of 'Everything In Its Right Place,' this whole place is gonna go apeshit. Just watch,” the guy behind me said shortly before the band did perform that song — with a switched-up intro that found its rhythm in maracas. The audience didn't, in fact, go apeshit.
Right before that, in the middle of the first encore, Radiohead played “Lucky,” the transcendent highlight of the show. When Yorke got to the chorus, and the lights went up, throwing a glow over the whole Sprint Center, the moment went right past apeshit to tears and goosebumps. Everything was in its right place — which doesn't happen very often but turns out to be worth waiting for.
Random Detail: Walking through the entrance of the Sprint Center, I felt like I had been buried in a cigarette smoker's gigantic pile of laundry.
Personal Bias: This was a bucket-list concert.
By the Way: You know the whole “dance like no one is watching” adage? There was a lot of that going on last night. Save the sweeping hand motions and swirling hips for GA. Thom can pull it off, but you my friend, not so much.
Morning Mr. Magpie
All I Need
The Daily Mail
How to Disappear Completely
Everything In Its Right Place
Give Up the Ghost