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October 2, 2011

RADIOHEAD - Roseland Ballroom, NY, 29th September 2011

Prior to the gig I felt totally privileged to have scored the hottest ticket in town for this intimate, ‘Radiohead’ show at, ‘Roseland Ballroom', NYC - the bands first appearance in the city for a few years. Following the concert, I felt completely honoured to have been in attendance for what I can only describe as a sensational gig. Normally when I attend shows, I tap away some notes on my iPhone every couple of songs in order to capture the set list and serve as a reminder (my memory not being a strongpoint), but on this occasion, I was completely gripped by the music. From set opener, ‘Bloom’ to curtain call, ‘Nude’, I was transfixed.

The show sold out in minutes upon release with a fervent fan base willing to do anything as far as offering $3,000 for a ticket for the show (Jack Black even looked a little perplexed when we passed him on entry...hope he got in). The standalone shows were announced just a week before the spectacle. I don’t consider myself a massive, 'Radiohead' fan, or rather, I didn’t consider myself a massive, 'Radiohead' fan. I have listened to their music and liked a fair smattering of songs from earlier albums, but in truth, it’s only in the past several years I have really gotten in to them (perhaps a maturity thing and maybe an appreciation of different sounds).

The first song from recent album, 'The King of Limbs' got things started with its frantic, almost samba like drumbeat amidst other chilling sounds. Both regular drummer, Selway and second drummer, Clive Deamer (on a bank of electronic pads key on this one) really stimulate the sensations on this opener, 'Bloom'. Not to mention the wonderful vocals of front man, Thom Yorke which had me a little surprised from the outset (in a positive way). 'Little By Little' almost starts with a sound of an old country and western movie, before transcending in to a twisting journey of sound. This also saw front man, Yorke find his own unique groove. Despite managing to play his guitar, he is almost the vision of a stray dog scratching flees. Hard to imagine that the following, 'Staircase' is a cast off from the new's a fantastic track which works even better in this live setting. It sees, Yorke take his place behind the keyboard and delivers a drum and bass like beat that has me nodding my head in high approval. Again, the bass was heavy and very effective. This track swirls with space like sounds through guitar plucking and harmonising vocal chords from the talented, Yorke.

'The National Anthem' from, 'Kid A' was next up as the band flitted between old and new. The strobe lights flashed and the driving sound that is, 'The National Anthem' rained down on the captivated audience. Yorke then flipped his floppy middle parted fringe behind his ears and got started on, 'Feral'. Then he got a little more animated, bouncing around and dancing uncontrollably. Despite this track having little in the way of lyrics, the beat combined with the hoots and hums of, Yorke make this one of my favourites from, 'The King of Limbs'

The lead man then got comfortable behind the piano for, 'Subterranean Homesick Alien' from 1997's, 'OK Computer'. With his back facing the crowd, he sways from left to right and takes thing down a tad, hollering, "Uptight! Uptight!" in the process. Dedicating, 'Like Spinning Plates' to the bands lighting engineer, Yorke again got busy on the keys whilst enveloped in sultry red light. It was like watching a matador owning his ring. The haunting sounds of keyboard got a sublime delivery of 'All I Need' with the front man bobbing like a boxer defending himself. This, 'In Rainbows' love letter seemed slightly slower than the album version, but was magnificent nonetheless.
'True Love Waits' was a subtle intro to 'Everything In Its Right Place' which also hosted a mix of 'R.E.M.'s', 'The One I Love'. Just three songs in one then? This song is one with a fast beat and powerful rhythm and it's no wonder that, Yorke's slight figure was in motion throughout in a movement that suggests he in encapsulated by his music. The educated audience responded with cheers of approval when they crept in to a gentle tribute to the recently disbanded, 'R.E.M.' - "This one goes out to the one I left behind," Yorke shrilled eerily. We were then treated to the phenomenal, '15 Steps' from, In Rainbows' with its fast paced drumbeat, before ebbing choruses performed expertly "you reel me out and then you cut the strii-ii-iing". More, 'In Rainbows' to come with, Yorke strapping on his guitar to play along with, 'Weird Fishes'. This one had the invested crowd singing along with every word and wriggling along not too dissimilarly to the animated lead.

‘Lotus Flower’ which is probably my favourite from the current album and was almost certainly my favourite in this performance. It had the crowd in raptures. The bass was deeper than ever (this a consistent theme throughout the set) and the guitar riff was like something from movies, ‘Exorcist’ or 'Shining'. If the crowd hadn't realised to this point, the quality of this band was clear to see and hear and were being treated to a musical masterpiece. With, Yorke again back on keys, the down and moving, ‘Codex’ was absolutely fantastic. The famous music hall was in silence as this track with a suicidal connotations was delivered with a beauty and nonchalance that could only be admired.
'The Daily Mail' (another song that didn’t make the album’s final cut) started as a wry piano ballad before blowing up in to a wall of noise - “The lunatics have taken over the asylum.” It's a powerful track which although written much longer ago, still has a serious message today. Perhaps that explains the aggression and passion in which the track was played.
'Morning Mr. Magpie' also from the current album displayed a stream of  guitar arpeggios and drumming. 'Reckoner' which proved to be the final song before the encore was also up there in this performance. The drums, symbols and tambourines a constant alongside the guitar plucking and by this point, indescribable by words, vocals by, Yorke. 

‘Give Up The Ghost’ began the encore with just Thom and Johnny taking the stage initially. Yorke on acoustic guitar, sampling his own voice to produce a shimmering curtain of vocals - “Don’t haunt me”. By this point in proceedings, the crowd are pretty much in dreamland. Yorke hurried to get more songs out before the midnight curfew kicked in (apparently they got in a bit of trouble for breaching this in the prior evenings show). The next one came in the form of 2003's, 'Myxomatosis' which is probably one of the darker of the bands repertoire on this particular evening "I don't know why..." No one wanted to leave, and with a loud and marauding, 'Bodysnatchers', this did not change. Yorke is at the peak of his powers and really draws the audience in..."Has the light gone out for you? 'Cause the light's gone out for me" was absolutely brilliant.

Yorke went on to tease someone over their shrilling and shrieking saying, "you can stop now, we know you're there". 'Supercollider' followed and this was only the second time it had been played by the band (the first being the previous night). Despite it bit being as familiar, it was certainly well accepted. 'Nude' finished things off beautifully. The bass again heavy and the lead singers vocals perfect. This was a chill out tune that sent an ecstatic New York crowd with smiles emblazoned across their faces. 

Radiohead made it clear from the outset that its intention was to debut, 'The King of Limbs' in these concerts, however, a more than adequate amount of other tracks appeared in the 21 song set. Despite being somewhat gutted that, 'Jigsaw Falling In To Place' wasn't performed, I was thrilled with the evening of entertainment and musical prowess by a band that I had never imagined it possible. They differ from the many 'average' bands that tour the globe and release albums, 'Radiohead' are simply a 'must see'. I am sold. 
Rating: 9.5/10 (Sensational)

Set List:
Little By Little
The National Anthem
Subterranean Homesick Alien
Like Spinning Plates
All I Need
True Love Waits/Everything In Its Right Place
15 Step
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
Lotus Flower
The Daily Mail
Morning Mr. Magpie

Give Up The Ghost


  1. How was the venue? Did you stand in the back like our normal Roseland shows?

  2. Aye. Usual spot. Place was packed. You should have been there. It was epic.

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