The crazy thing about Radioheadis that despite being around for roughly 30 years, having released nine albums and numerous EPs, being ranked in the top 100 of Rolling Stone’s list of “Greatest Artists of All Time,” and being nominated for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 in their first year of eligibility, they remain relatively unknown to the general public. Ask any John or Jane Q. Public off the street to name 5 Radiohead songs and I bet they can’t do it. Sure, they’ve probably heard of Radiohead, but the overall anonymity of the British quintet is pretty astounding all things considered. However, you wouldn’t know that from the crowd at U.S. Bank Arena last night. Empty seats were few and far between, if at all.
The show started with a barrage of light particles and beams that felt as if you were moving through space in a rabbit hole as the band broke into “Daydreaming” off the 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool. Speaking of rabbit holes, and much more than a daydream, the entire show felt more like a full-blown dream where fans unknowingly took the red pill option given to Neo in The Matrix. The light effects combined with Radiohead’s now signature electronic/synth/orchestral arrangements, and the egg-shaped screen behind the band playing a flickering, frenetic collage of live shots from the band members’ faces, hands, and instruments caused a trance-like state reminiscent of the brainwashing scene from Stanley Kubrick’s Clockwork Orange. All told, Radiohead kept us in Wonderland for over two hours playing 25 songs, including two encores, showing just how deep the rabbit hole could go.
Lead singer, Thom Yorke, put his genius on full display throughout the night playing nearly every instrument known to man. He played acoustic guitar on “Desert Island Disk” and keyboards on “Ful Stop” both also off of A Moon Shaped Pool,piano on “Videotape” and “All I Need” from the album In Rainbows,tambourine on “Myxomatosis” from Hail to the Thief,maracas on “Lotus Flower” off of The King of Limbs, lead electric guitar on “Lucky” from Ok Computer, and bass guitar on “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” during the second encore. The only instrument Yorke didn’t play were the drums, and that’s because he didn’t need to as the band had two full drum kits manned by Philip Selway and a touring percussionist.
Back to Yorke for a moment, the 49-year old’s unmistakable, whiny, haunting voice has lost none of its youthful power or clarity despite being betrayed by the telltale signs of age in his countenance, receding hairline, and gray in his beard. His ability to softly draw you in on songs like “No Surprises,” which ended the first encore, is perfectly contrasted by the passion and subtle intensity displayed in a song like “Idioteque.”
Some highlights of the night, in my opinion, were the large number of tracks played from 2007’s In Rainbows, ending the main portion of the show with one of my all-time favorites “How to Disappear Completely,” the rarely played “Talk Show Host” from the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation of Romeo & Juliet, the aforementioned two encores (when was the last time a band did that?), and ending the entire show with classic “Karma Police.”
All in all, a Radioheadconcert is much more than just an amazing band playing music. It’s an ethereal, sprawling, weaving, beautiful experience that cannot really be explained. You’ll have to see it/hear it for yourself because once you do, as Morpheus tells Neo, “there is no turning back.”
Set list: Daydreaming, Desert Island Disk, Ful Stop, 2 + 2 = 5, Myxomatosis, Kid A, All I Need, Videotape, Lucky, Bloom, Everything in Its Right Place, Lotus Flower, Reckoner, The National Anthem, Idioteque, A Wolf at the Door, How to Disappear Completely. Encore No. 1: Decks Dark, The Gloaming, Talk Show Host, There There, No Surprises. Encore No. 2: The Bends, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Karma Police.