Radiohead Manchester Arena October 6th 2012 Live review Earlier this year Louder Than Warâs Dan Lucas celebrated his birthday with a night of dancing in the heart of the north of England. Last weekend he saw Thom Yorke do the same as Radiohead played a searing set at the Manchester Arena. Hereâs what he thought…
When Thom Yorke claimed a few years back that he was striving to create the perfect dance song, many of us viewed it as a comment born of the same slightly perverse sense of humour that last night saw the Radiohead frontman introduce himself as Lady Gaga.
Those of us who have seen the band on the recent tour though, with the rhythm section of Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway and Clive Deamer to the fore and seemingly heavily influenced by the outstanding support act Caribou, would surely agree that Yorke and Ed OâBrienâs electrocuted dance moves had lost all traces of being incongruous.
At first glance Oxfordâs finest art rock group may have very little in common with the Madchester fad of the early 90s â OâBrien being a Manchester University graduate and fan of United, typically living in London, aside â but when the band launched into up-tempo renditions of the likes of âBloomâ, âFeralâ and new song âFul Stopâ the show turned into a rave for the high-brow post-modern rock fan.
Typically the setlist leaned heavily towards 2011âs The King of Limbs with six songs from the album complimented by a further three post-In Rainbows tracks. Â What has proved to be a divisive and difficult record took on a new lease of life in the live setting, the loud bass travelling through even the nether regions of those sat in the arenaâs uppermost tier.
The addition of Deamer, best known for his work with Portishead and Robert Plant, also injected the band with a new lease of life and bodes well for the recording sessions earlier this year in which he is rumoured to have taken part.
Of the newer songs âBloomâ was particularly energetic, losing all the seemingly deliberate obtuseness of the studio version and instead thundering off the walls. Â At the other end of the scale âGive Up the Ghostâ, with just Thom and Jonny onstage with looped falsetto vocals and the singer harmonising with himself had the crowd spellbound.
The show wasnât entirely about the pounding thrusting likes of âMyxomatosisâ, âThe Gloamingâ, âIdiotequeâ and âThe National Anthemâ. Â Long-term fans were held enraptured by the more haunting likes of the caustic âThe Daily Mailâ, âPyramid Songâ with Jonny Greenwood using a violin bow on his guitar and âHow to Disappear Completelyâ; a song considered by many to be the bandâs greatest and given the pure emotion pouring from this performance, with Yorkeâs falsetto hitting unimaginable notes, itâs a strong claim.
A personal highlight for this
reviewer fan was the consecutive triumvirate of âNudeâ, âWeird Fishes/Arpeggiâ (the nightâs biggest sing-along) and âReckonerâ (which prompted the nightâs biggest cheer) from 2007âs all-time great In Rainbows.
The only disappointment felt would have been from old fans hoping to see a 90s throwback (given this was Manchester, I assume this was most people) to remind them of their youth/allow them to churn out the same tired shit about Radiohead being depressing that no one who has ever listened to them believes*.
Only three of the âclassicsâ from this era were played â âAirbagâ, perennial favourite âParanoid Androidâ and the vastly underrated âPlanet Telexâ â although some concession was made with the inclusion of âThere Thereâ, âEverything in its Right Placeâ and the blistering closer âIdiotequeâ.
Ultimately though this was a show by a band looking forward, exploring new ideas, and challenging moth-eaten perceptions… and despite what 50-year-old 90s apologists from the Top Gear audience may protest, this is what makes Radiohead the worldâs greatest band.
1. Lotus Flower
4. The Daily Mail
6. The Gloaming
8. These are my Twisted Words
9. Pyramid Song
11. Weird Fishes/
13. There There
14. The National Anthem
16. Paranoid Android
17. You and Whose Army?
18. Ful Stop
19. Morning Mr. Magpie
20. Planet Telex
21. How to Disappear Completely
22. Give up the Ghost
23. Everything in its Right Place
Thanks to the amazing Liz, who bought me tickets and made sure I had somewhere brilliant to stay over the weekend, not to mention the perfect company for the show. She spoils me. *Delete as appropriate