Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Radiohead - May 9, 2008

[Guest Review - Dentist]
[watch for reviews of this Sunday's Dallas show from Lawyer, Appraiser and Priest]

Radiohead — Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, Charlotte, North Carolina May 9, 2008

Radiohead is somewhat of a paradox in the music industry. They barely registered a blip on the music radar in 1993 with the release of “Pablo Honey”, a perfectly drab album save a few standout cuts like “Thinking About You” and the career launching “Creep”, a song that on repeated occasions the band has publicly stated that they hate, but in all reality saved their arses from being relegated to the throwaway bin. Then they go on to release two stellar albums followed by a string of somewhat mediocre records that alienate all but their most ardent followers.
Click below for the rest of the review.

In addition, they haven’t exactly been a model of media darlings and oh, did I forget to mention that they didn’t prime the pump with regular tours to support the albums. Yet somehow they are consistently mentioned in the “best band/top record” discussions that constantly litter the music journals and have been namechecked as influences for loads of bands, including Coldplay, Travis, Doves, and Keane to name a few. How do they do it? In my opinion, by always staying unpredictable, consistently putting out solid, if not timeless, material and as I can attest to, putting on an unbelievable live show that truly lives up to the hype.

Friday night Radiohead played a long over-due show to a sold out crowd at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater (I don’t know exactly how quickly the concert sold out, but on the day the tickets went on sale about 1-2 minutes into it, I was only able to score seats just in front of the lawn). The buildup for this tour has been immeasurable and the band currently have the #2 ranked tour in the land, according to Pollstar. Radiohead tour so infrequently that the generally held opinion among those who know anything about music is that you do everything you can to see them live. I had seen them only once before in 1998 at Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas when they toured in support of 1997’s “OK Computer”, so I knew tonight was going to be a real treat. The open-air amphitheater at venues like Verizon suits Radiohead and the music well, as it reminds me of the numerous festivals they have played in past years to glowing reviews (think Glasto 1997 and Bonnaroo 2006).

The band entered the stage with little fanfare and opened with “All I Need”, one of the standout tracks from “In Rainbows” that has a brilliant drum and bass backbeat and is properly accented by Thom’s lilting vocals. The band sounded spot on as they segued directly into “There,There” and “Airbag”, leaving little doubt as to why they command the respect that they’ve garnered as a top live band. The stage setup included an amazing arrangement of what looked to be hanging LED light strips and a horizontal screen spanning the width of the stage, split into five different segments, each one featuring a dedicated live feed focused on each band member.

One of my favorite parts of the gig occurred when they performed “Sail to the Moon” early on in the main set. The threat of rain had been present all day and being in an uncovered area of seats, my heart sunk a bit when about three songs into the show, a light drizzle began to fall. However, the lights from the stage created an eerie effect on the haze of small raindrops and perfectly framed the beautiful song, complete with soaring vocals. The pace remained brisk, but not forced and Thom did interact with the crowd a bit, interjecting a reference to being in North Carolina and one particular phrase on at least three separate occasions that I don’t recall using since high school, if then: “Cool beans!”

One thing that struck me on retrospect is how well the material from the Kid A/Amnesiac era sounded live and kind of gave me a new respect for a couple of albums that, to be perfectly honest, didn’t really grab hold of me when they came out. Songs like “Idioteque”, “Morning Bell” and “Optimistic” all were delivered with unbelievable flair, complete with Thom flailing about like his head was on a string. That being said, I had hoped for a more proportionate offering from “The Bends” and “OK Computer”(I would pay good money to hear the lads simply play through either of those records, from start to finish). The only tracks from those albums were an amazing “Planet Telex”, complete with the sickest light show I’ve seen, changing between rainbow-colored and bright white, “Exit Music (For a Film)” and “Paranoid Android” (which Thom introduced by saying ‘This is a nasty little bastard, this one…Hope you like it.’). Other favorites included “Go Slowly” (Thom adding ‘This is a song after you’ve gotten laid…’), a song included on the extended album version of “In Rainbows” and the show closer “Reckoner”, my favorite track from the latest record.

Those of you who have tickets to see the band are in for a real treat, just don’t expect a nostalgic trip through the 1990’s. The lighting/visual effects were simply mesmerizing throughout the show , the band delivered on every level and most importantly I left wanting more. And in the end, isn’t that all you really want from a band? A

Click here for the setlist.

1 comment:

Lawyer said...

Did your dad like it? Hiya!