You may remember that I tried to see Radiohead’s 2012 tour back in July but ended up in a gay Berlin night club instead. Imagine my delight then when my cousin offered me a second chance, this time a bit closer to home in the shape of Greenwich’s O2 Arena.
Harry Harland reviewed their most recent album ‘The King of Limbs’ a while back and said that in the context of their general oeuvre it was a bit forgettable. Or rather that it was ‘not very good’. Well, having given it a fair few listens since then I’ve come the conclusion that he was being a tad harsh. I think tunes like Morning Mr Magpie, Bloom, Feral and Lotus Flower are actually up there with their best, and that’s half the album. But then their best is fairly extensive. Just try assembling a top 20 Radiohead song list on Spotify as I attempted recently. Impossible. If only for the fact that you can’t get ‘In Rainbows’ on the music streaming service, which means I have to have a tubular bells version of Reckoner.
Off to the O2 last night then to see the second instalment of their first show in London for four years. Any problems with queuing due to the paperless ticket system from the first night appeared to have been ironed out as we were straight in.
The set list was predictably ‘King of Limbs’ heavy, but anyone familiar with the band’s live performances will know that the little gems from their earlier albums are a rarity. It made me wonder how many bands in their third decade of performance can bring out a new album, play extensively from it on live tours and keep selling-out huge venues around the world.
Like old friends though, it’s the classics that get the biggest cheers of the night. Myxomatosis from ‘Hail to the Thief’ succeeded in galvanising the energetic crowd, led by a frenetic Thom Yorke who, with his beard and long, thinning hair, gave a visual impression of homelessness.
Another oldie that sent shivers down the inner cores of those present was the mesmerising Paranoid Android. How many bands wish they could write and perform a song like it?
Also present was Yorke’s pop at the Daily Mail, in the band’s latest song of the same name as the tabloid with the sinister lyrics, “we’re here to keep your prices down, we’ll feed you to the hounds”. Lovely stuff.
Each Radiohead tour is different and no version of a song is the same. That sounds like a cliché, which it is. They closed with as heavy a rendition of Everything in its Right Place as I’ve seen, backed with and a double drum set and massively distorted bass that vibrated my very eyeballs throughout.
People left the 02, often criticised for its lack of atmosphere and poor acoustics, with big grins on their faces. The Radiohead cult continues and shows no signs of relenting anytime soon.
By Edward Lines