Any Radiohead listener has their favorite album, and only a few other bands match the level of intensity that fans have towards their favorite record. The new age “A Moon Shaped Pool” and “The King of Limbs” junkies clutch their polished CDs tight, while “Kid A” and “The Bends” advocates shout about how much they love “the old” Radiohead.
No matter your stance on which one of their nine studio records is the best, Radiohead’s performance at KeyArena on Saturday would wow any enthusiast. Their ever-expansive set touched on every record at least once, leaving the crowd in tears of beauty and amazement.
I feel like anyone who listens to Radiohead thinks they are the biggest Radiohead fan. I thought I was a decent fan until a person near the front of the line told me they had seen every show on this tour so far, with Saturday night’s show marking their 28th time seeing the band. So I’ll put it out there that I am not near that level of Radiohead expertise; however, their music has played an invaluable role in developing my musical taste.
I first listened to Radiohead’s discography in my sophomore year of high school, when I decided I needed to take a break from all current music to listen to classic alternative records. Radiohead neared the top of that list, and changed the course of my music taste forever from the first piano key of “Planet Telex” off of 1995’s “The Bends”.
Now that I’m in my sophomore year of college, I couldn’t have made Radiohead’s Saturday headline appearance at KeyArena any timelier if I tried. I arrived at the venue a mere three hours before doors opened, and surprisingly, the minutes flew by. Before I knew it I was sliding my way into a third row, just left of center spot in the general admission pit.
Israeli band Dudu Tassa & the Kuwaitis opened the show promptly at 7:30 p.m. The Jewish-Arabic band’s sound provided a 30-minute look into Middle Eastern alternative music, blending alt-sounds with lyrics entirely in Arabic.
And like clockwork, the lights dimmed at 8:30 p.m., and Radiohead appeared on stage. The British band kicked off the set with “Daydreaming,” a six-minute track off of their latest album, “A Moon Shaped Pool”.
The track itself is a melancholy panic attack personified—a meandering piano that blooms into sharp stringed orchestra. Combined with frontman Thom Yorke’s wavering howl and the twinkling white lights that shone across KeyArena, this was one of the most beautiful opening moments of a show I have ever seen.
Radiohead’s production continued to put me in awe as they continued through the set, continuing with two more songs off of “A Moon Shaped Pool” before venturing into their must-plays, as well as rarities from the rest of their discography.
During every night of this tour so far, Radiohead has chosen to play a song that they haven’t played in years. Seattle’s lucky pick was a single that Thom Yorke and company have not played in over five years.
Once people realized that it was “These Are My Twisted Words,” the arena roared into an almost indescribable sound of excitement. That noise reprised a few more times throughout the night, as any time the band would start playing the first couple of chords of songs people weren’t expecting, the arena would erupt into shrieks of disbelief.
The pandemonium was a bit comical on the more acoustic tracks such as “Exit Music (For A Film)” and “No Surprises,” but I definitely uttered my fair share of incredulous shrills throughout the night.
One of those moments was when they pulled out a strange instrument that looked like an industrial machine. It started sputtering beats, and when I realized they were mixing “Idioteque” live I pretty much completely lost my cool.
My favorite faster tracks of the night were “Bodysnatchers” and “Burn the Witch,” as the intensity and lighting design of the two could not be beat.
However, the largest moment of shock was when they kept coming back out for an unnerving amount of encores. I didn’t think I could be any more impressed when they walked out for the start of the third encore, but when they began “Fake Plastic Trees,” I knew I would never be more satisfied.
As I made my way out of KeyArena in a state of tranquility, someone was playing Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place.” After that performance, I realized I couldn’t agree more.
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