Tag Archives: Radiohead

Put the shadows in their boxes

01 15 Step
02 Bodysnatchers
03 Airbag
04 Bangers & Mash
05 Nude
06 Pyramid Song
07 Arpeggi
08 The Gloaming
09 The National Anthem
10 Faust Arp
11 Videotape
12 Optimistic
13 Where I End And You Begin
14 Reckoner
15 Everything In Its Right Place
16 All I Need
17 There There

Encore 1:
18 Exit Music
19 Jigsaw Falling Into Place
20 Climbing Up The Walls
21 Planet Telex
22 How To Disappear Completely

Encore 2:
23 Super Collider
24 You And Whose Army?
25 Idioteque

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In Rainbows

Radiohead Day 1. It rains on the queue, like it always does. Bat For Lashes plays. Her band have a lot of interesting instruments, including a horn played with a bow, but she doesn’t really capture my imagination. It rains some more when she finishes. Then, ten minutes before Radiohead are due on: rainbow. Two rainbows. The significance is not lost on anyone.

Started with All I Need, which pretty much set the tone for the day. The gig in Marley Park in 2006 was basically a festival set, all the songs one could pogo to. But this is the In Rainbows tour. The regular set was full of stuff off In Rainbows, and stuff that followed that general vibe. Lucky, for example, came out early, and a couple from (my favourite Radiohead album) Amnesiac appeared. Guitar rock in general was limited. A good thing.

Thom is a weird guy. He’s like an avatar of all this horrible stuff he sings, complains and makes artwork about for a living. Fake fits for dances. Gurning. Staring down Scotch_Mist style webcams which operated as cameras for the big screens. His straight-to-camera, eyebrow-raised, way-too-close rendition of You and Whose Army? straight down the lens raised laughs. But it was pretty frightening too.

I was happy to see Myxomatosis, complete with body-twisting, Boney King of Nowhere dance. Everything In Its Right Place was not the set closer, Videotape was. Better yet, How To Disappear Completely ended the first encore. Just the type of weird but representative, slight sick-feeling set I was hoping for.

Second encore brought Supercollider, a new song, which I’m assuming is about this fucker. Then Just, and Paranoid Android. It is impossible to not fill with joy hearing Paranoid Android. It is a work of utter genius, and very possibly the best song ever written. I know I love superlatives on this blog, but I’ve devoted a solid five or six years to Radiohead and have consistently listened to and loved them more than any other band. I will never get sick of spending €70 to see them (or getting tickets as presents, as the case is with tonight).

Heading out again after dinner. See you there.

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The Year. 2. The most perfect day I’ve ever seen.

2. Radiohead – In Rainbows
It’s up to you.

So we move to within inches of finishing the list that I expected to be done with by Christmas. There are hurricanes of bullshit blowing around this album from every corner (including that which I contributed to Analogue), and that’s difficult to ignore. Everyone span it differently. From the extreme right, people like Forbes fucking magazine and Paul McGuinness denounced for killing the business. From the far left, impoverished musicians denounced it because it was letting people think that music doesn’t have an intrinsic value. From the middle, people scowled and looked for ulterior motives. Fuck all those people. Including me. This is a great album.

In Rainbows is the sound of Radiohead emerging from the end of a dark tunnel. Kid A, Amnesiac and Hail To Thief was a trilogy of particularly fearful albums, mired in negative vibes. Trace a line from The Bends to Hail To The Thief. Gloom goes up. So does the feeling that Thom Yorke is an unsalvageable lunatic. The line stops at In Rainbows. The Eraser seems to be the end of entire albums of intense paranoia. While In Rainbows isn’t exactly what you’d describe as “happy”, there’s a definite hope involved that doesn’t come into the gloomy trilogy. The claustrophobia is gone, replaced by sparse instrumentation and heaps of reverb. Renowned composer Jonny Greenwood lends strings. Some of the least loaded and best, most simple Radiohead songs ever appear. We are reminded (for the thousandth time) of exactly how great a singer Thom Yorke is.

It starts urgently. A fairly old-sounding drum machine squelching out bumps and claps in a difficult time signature. Thom comes in first, singing urgently too. It’s not till the guitar comes in that the tone is properly set. Anodyne and measured. Anything but boring, however. The beat jerks around beneath the song and provides the best 5/4 groove since Take Five. Bodysnatchers is half and half fuzz rock and Burkean sublime, but it’s the oldest song on the album, Nude, that provides the first moment of that sort of pure musical joy that make Radiohead the Best Band In The World. It sounds almost like devotional music, and if any other song in existence (bar maybe Pyramid Song) can provoke emotion like Nude, I have yet to hear it. The strings come it, and it is otherworldly. The first perfect song on In Rainbows.

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi is probably my least favourite song on the album, but even it has a saving grace, a breakdown and recommencement straight off Kid A. All I Need gets back to making attempts at the sky. The bassline grooves throughout, and Thom sings a love song of sorts. It might be the best indicator that In Rainbows is not in the Kid Amnesiac lineage. Eight years ago, this would have been How To Disappear Completely. Now it’s not. It’s melancholy as all fuck, but there is hope there. Faust Arp sounds exactly like The Beatles. McCartney finger picking, George Martin strings, an insane man talking about plastic bags and other generally cloudy modern things.

Then Reckoner. I hate these bits where I have to sound like a sap to explain what I’m thinking, and I usually try to avoid them, but it’s hard, seeing as I’ve gone the track-by-track route here. I think if I was drowning, Reckoner would be playing over the slideshow of my life. Definitely actually. Nothing could make slow, panicked death seem more like the right thing to happen than Reckoner. And when the first section stops – the “ripples on a blank shore” part, and the strings with the “In Raaaaaaaaainbooooows” in the background… Does not get better. The second perfect song.

House of Cards and Jigsaw Falling Into Place, I wouldn’t go to war for, so I’ll skip them to speed this up. Videotape though is the third and final perfect song. Just a piano, Thom Yorke’s life on video and eventually an obtrusive drumbeat. The kind of thing you listen to while lying on the floor in the dark. Not that I do that. If it wasn’t for two or three slightly disappointing songs, and the exclusion of Last Flowers To The Hospital, this would be the best album of the year, and maybe the best album of all time. But they’re there, it disrupts it a little and drags it to places it would be better avoiding. It’s still absolute genius, and every other superlative I can conquer.
This is Radiohead, it doesn’t need links.