On Monday I received a call from my brother informing me that the Sydney Entertainment Centre box office still had returned tickets available. After a huge rush, we get to the SEC at 7.30pm to be told that all tickets are sold out. Our family rarely takes no for an answer, therefore after badgering the same woman three times – we were finally handed three tickets with five minutes to spare. We were three very lucky chaps.
Throughout the two and a half hours, the bass pitched empathically at varying levels, so one minute your chest is about to cave in, and next your ears are popping from the pressure penetrated by Colin Greenwood’s bass guitar. The likes of Leftfield thrive on such bass lines but Radiohead were at another level. The band consisted of the original five, plus the hands of an extra drummer.
This is an acclamation in itself; to have the skill and professionalism to keep two beats going flawlessly for two plus hours is exceptional. They stepped up another level when playing Reckoner with four drummers and two guitars. This was my favourite part of the set, I have goosebumps just writing this.
Radiohead have advanced their sound numerous times throughout their career, constantly experimenting with new ways to ‘wow’ an audience and last night’s antics exposed us as to why. Tracks like There, There from Hail to the Thief, Lotus Flower from the The King of Limbs and a few new tracks showed that their songs are made for live performances. Their albums are great but nothing compared to the sound that the boys can generate live, at some stages I felt like I was at an Orbital gig – I was in heaven!
It is very apparent that throughout their lives they have been classed as ‘outcasts’ with Thom York being the pivotal part of this branding. I have always known York to be wooden on stage and almost hostile, but last night was a different story. He was infectious, dancing more like Karl Hyde from Underworld than his usual self. Songs like Paranoid Android sent shivers down my spine, and conveyed nostalgia to most.
It aggravates me when critics say that Radiohead are ‘depressing’ and ‘whiny’ – they are far from it. York’s angelic voice was note perfect and the sound that backed him up was far from depressing, more enchanting.
The set consisted of multiple ‘free hanging’ screens that inevitably moved into different positions and showed intricate camera angles of the band from many different perspectives. It was a simple idea that was so clever and technical it actually rivaled Pink Floyds Pulse live tour – to even comprehend the time and effort it must have taken them to produce this, is impossible. We saw imaginations flourish from the screens dropping down to create a ‘rubber’ room to beaming unbearable breaks of light. It was enough to make a sober man trip.
Radiohead experimented with new tracks such as the bold Staircase. No they didn’t play the likes of Fake Plastic Trees or Just, in fact they didn’t play many from their first four albums. This didn’t matter – the crowd hung on every note played and every word sung. Furthermore, I have never seen an Australian crowd react in the way they did. The ovation after every song showed the appreciation of their music and even though there were three encores – I saw standing ovations for each.
This was something of a dream come true for me and if it wasn’t for my brother’s willfulness, I would have most probably never saw Radiohead live in my lifetime. Paranoid Android was ridiculous, words cannot comprehend the immense sound that was created and I do have to say there were tears in my eyes.
Radiohead have been going for almost thirty years now, and they have brought so much to the music industry through their creative progression and classical albums. This thirty year stronghold was evident last night through immense precision and rigor on each track – something that most bands are envious of.