Radiohead is extraordinary and not so weird at Verizon
by David Lindquist
NOBLESVILLE,INDIANA (RUSHPRNEWS) AUGUST 4, 2008–Thom Yorke performed with Radiohead at Verizon Wireless Music Center in Noblesville Sunday, August 3, 2008. The group includes vocalist Thom Yorke, guitarist Jonny Greenwood, drummer Phil Selway, guitarist Ed O’Brien and bass player Colin Greenwood. (Rob Goebel / The Star) Radiohead performs at Verizon Wireless Music Center.
Introducing his band as Radiohead Sunday night at Verizon Wireless Music Center, Thom Yorke grasped the unusual nature of his visit.
“If you’re looking for Kid Rock, you’re in the wrong place,” Yorke said during one of his few stage announcements.
Radiohead last performed in Indiana 13 years ago. The English quintet has since staked out a celebrated, avant-garde corner of the modern rock landscape. To the ears of some listeners, it’s just weird that guitarist Jonny Greenwood twiddles so many synthesizer knobs and that the band’s rhythms often resemble magnets at play or audio tapes racing in reverse.
So, yes, if there’s a good-old-boy fraternity of acts that includes Kid Rock, Buckcherry and Godsmack, Radiohead isn’t part of it.
At the same time, an informed and fired-up audience of 18,133 turned out Sunday to hear live renditions of fantastic Radiohead recordings made since the mid-1990s. Limit the list to four albums, and we’re talking “OK Computer,” “Kid A,” “Amnesiac” and current release “In Rainbows.”
Early in the 135-minute concert, “Rainbows” track “All I Need” unfolded as a sober stalker anthem. “I’m in the middle of your picture, lying in the weeds,” Yorke sang.
Against Greenwood’s haunting organ and Phil Selway’s dirge of a drum beat, Yorke summoned a menace akin to older tunes “You and Whose Army?” and “Exit Music (for a Film)” — two more highlights from the show.
Yorke, Greenwood, Selway, guitarist Ed O’Brien and bass player Colin Greenwood exposed no rough edges on “Rainbows” radio single “Nude.” Instead, Radiohead assumed the personality of a nonchalant jazz combo, finding beauty as a gentle wave of sound crested on the audience.
The standout rocker from “Rainbows” proved to be “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi.” Although the up-and-down runs of an arpeggio are a rudimentary exercise for guitarist Greenwood, the song provided clean, forward motion for a crowd looking to let loose.
Music aside, the concert offered a visual triumph as vertical tubes of light were seen beside, above and behind the musicians. The resulting effect was a 3-D grid of color, used most effectively when green “rain” fell during a rendition of “The Gloaming” from 2003’s “Hail to the Thief” album.
In the context of relatively reined-in performances from Jonny Greenwood and Selway, the show was left wide open for Yorke to dominate. The singer didn’t spoon-feed his fans with hits, as the night’s first selection from 1997’s landmark “OK Computer” was dark ballad “Climbing Up the Walls.”
A fractured funhouse of percussion and electronics, “Walls” provided a bridge to the music Radiohead would make at the turn of the century.
Frantic numbers “Morning Bell” and “Idioteque” from 2000’s “Kid A” were paired perfectly to show off this side of Radiohead.
Audience members jumped at this chance to dance, but they also rallied around “Just” — a song Yorke and Co. likely played during their last visit to Indiana. Taken from 1995 album “The Bends,” “Just” is a celebration of tension and release on electric guitars. It dates to a time when Oasis, Blur and the Verve were U.K. contemporaries.
Why do the musicians of Radiohead stand head and shoulders above the rest in 2008? Because they’re different.