Friday, September 30, 2011

Live Review - Radiohead @ Roseland

In the age of social media and everyone knowing everyone else’s business, one thing is for certain, it is hard to keep a secret in the 21st Century. Yet, the biggest and bet kept secret hails from a band shrouded in mystery and everything they do is an enigma, that band is Radiohead. The band that back in 1997 blew our minds with OK Computer, then did it again in 2000 with Kid A, then told us in 2007 that we could pay whatever we wanted for their new album, In Rainbows and in February of this year sold their latest album, The King of Limbs at a flat and very inexpensive rate. The band rarely does interviews, especially in America and the band rarely does much to promote themselves aside from the cult-like legion of fans they have around the world and the respect of every music lover. So when Radiohead first announced they were going to be on the season opener of Saturday Night Live, New Yorkers took it as a very big deal, camping out for days hoping to get in, then they announced they would be doing a one-hour special on satirical late-night comedy program, The Colbert Report and in between all of this, just last week, they announced two very intimate shows at New York’s legendary Roseland Ballroom. Aside from their guerrilla Glastonbury set this past June, these would be the band’s only live performances of 2011 and only US appearances for the year. Tickets went on-sale on Monday for both days and those fortunate enough to get in, were the luckiest people in the music world as the two dates sold-out in fewer than ten minutes. For a band like Radiohead, they have the power and pull to do something as crazy as this.

As confusion set in for the crowd on Wednesday, the first of two nights, as to what the band will play, what the stage will look like, how long they will play for, the anticipation and build-up was extremely high. By Thursday, after reports flooded in almost immediately after Wednesday nights show, the only question going in was, how will they outdo themselves? Playing nearly the same set list both nights, Radiohead still found a way to take the crowd to places they have never been. Arriving on stage just after 10pm, Radiohead took the stage and opened with “Bloom,” Thom Yorke would sing “don’t blow your mind with why,” the final line in the first chorus of the song and the only way to sum up and culminate everything about this band. Don’t try and think too hard, just let it happen, let them do their work and enjoy it, and once you do that, the experience will leave you speechless. With a list of songs that focused heavily on the band’s last two albums, they sprinkled in songs from Kid A, “Like Spinning Plates,” from Amnesiac, “Subterranean Homesick Alien,” from OK Computer and “Myxomatosis,” from Hail to the Thief. What was clearly omitted was work from the band’s early days of Pablo Honey and The Bends, as well as the band’s biggest hits from OK Computer, the thing is, a band like Radiohead does not need to rely on their hits and their early work. With an impressive and evolving catalog as theirs, it speaks volumes that what has made them popular they look to discontinue.

Under a rack of LED rods and lights, Thom Yorke danced around on stage with his hair coming loose from his ponytail; it is evident that he seems very relaxed and comfortable in front of room full of eyes gawking at him. Most impressive is multi-instrumentalist and virtuoso Johnny Greenwood, watching him switch from drums, guitar, piano, homemade mixers, bass and computerized contraptions projecting bazaar sounds, it is as if he is Mozart for the jilted generation. With support from an addition drummer, Clive Deamer, every blip was heard, every part of Colin Greenwood’s bass was felt, and every distant sound was audible. If there is anything to be said about this band, it is the fact that they sound as brilliant in concert as they do listening to them with a good pair of headphones. If these concerts are any indication as to what Radiohead will be doing on the road in 2012, start queuing up now, it will be worth the wait.

01 - Bloom
02 - Little By Little
03 - Staircase
04 - The National Anthem
05 - Feral
06 - Subterranean Homesick Alien
07 - Like Spinning Plates
08 - All I Need
09 - True Love Waits / Everything In Its Right Place
10 - 15 Step
11 - Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
12 - Lotus Flower
13 - Codex
14 - The Daily Mail
15 - Morning Mr. Magpie
16 - Reckoner

17 - Give Up The Ghost
18 - Myxomatosis
19 - Bodysnatchers

20 - Supercollider
21 - Nude

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