A few observations about Wednesday’s Radiohead show:
1. It melted our faces and vibrated our bowels.
2. Thom is getting older (but he can still dance). I noticed it in his voice, though; the group intentionally avoiding playing songs with more extreme high parts, and often Thom would slightly alter the vocal lines to include fewer falsetto notes (especially in Paranoid Android).
3. Could Paul Lansky ever have envisioned 30,000 people wildly gyrating to Mild und Leise?
4. Radiohead hired some good lighting designers. Most of the visuals were quite beautiful and well-suited to the music. The was a particularly neat effect used during Everything in its Right Place (one of my favorite songs ever) where the lyrics of the song were projected against a forest of dangly rods so that it looked as if the text were scrolling towards you. There were two problems, though: IT’S “ITS”, NOT “IT’S”. I can’t believe nobody caught the misplaced apostrophe in 1,000,000-point bright green type. See Strong Bad’s unforgettable mnemonic. Also, about that type: it was Comic Sans. No kidding. Radiohead’s visuals have their share of quirky typography, but this seemed somehow… unsuitable.
5. After A Wolf at the Door, Thom mentioned the title of the song “in case you were unfamiliar with it”. This seemed like an odd choice, especially in the context of the show, which was extremely light on chit-chat. Why would anyone be unfamiliar with that song? It’s the last track on Hail to the Thief. Strange. The song has always kind of stuck out to me, though. Musically, it feels like a throwback to much earlier, Pablo Honey-era Radiohead.
6. Jonny did a little musique-concrète intro to The Gloaming on his Kaoss Pad (I think) which sampled some obnoxious commercial/radio-announcer types of voices. One line that popped out at me was “Win a Macbook Air!” It reminded me of this photo I found a while ago of Thom proudly displaying a vintage rainbow Apple sticker:
I guess liking Apple products is no longer all cool and counterculture. Oh well, it’s what we wanted all along, right?
7. I was excited to see Grizzly Bear, the opening act, but apparently nobody else was. Hardly anyone showed up until the stagehands were busily setting up Radiohead’s lighting apparatus. Which was sad, because they were really good. Those guys do close harmony amazingly well. The amplification was a bit over-aggressive, though; the guitars were strangely sharp and punchy, without the beautiful haziness of Yellow House. Also, it would have been nice if Radiohead had let them use their piano. I’d love to see them in a more intimate venue with a more enthusiastic crowd.
8. Much has been made of Radiohead’s tour-greening efforts, but I’m sure that the carbon emissions from the disaster of a parking lot at the Comcast Center completely canceled out all the offsets that were purchased (not that carbon offsets are such a great idea anyway). Along with thousands of other cars, we sat in the parking lot for two and a half hours just waiting to get out. This place makes Tanglewood look like a marvel of traffic planning.