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the most glowing radiohead gig review ever (tues 13 november, sydney entertainment centre)

Image: Cassandra Hannagan, via ABC

This was the day that I dreaded for many months. I didn’t have a ticket for Radiohead’s two very, very sold out Sydney shows and was preparing myself for a week of listening to Kid A alone in the dark and crying with dismay. However, on the Friday morning before the concert, I was awoken by my frantic band mate, screaming into his phone that an extra release of tickets was scheduled for 1pm that Friday.

We got the tickets.

I was in a constant state of glee from Friday to Tuesday and as I made my way down to the Sydney Entertainment Centre on the train, it finally set in that I was seeing one of the greatest bands of all time. Radiohead and I would be in the same room in a few mere hours.

The atmosphere was electric outside as desperate people cried out ‘Paying anything for 1 ticket’, I wouldn’t have sold the ticket for anything. The seats and floor filled up slowly as New Zealand’s premiere psyc-pop hero, Connan Mockasin, took to the stage.  He was clearly humbled to be on such a massive stage supporting the goliath that is Radiohead and this was reflected in his subdued stage presence. However, his music was utterly unique and contained some very memorable hooks and grooves. Closing with ten minute opus Forever Dolphin Love he left some of the crowd confused, but others such as myself, very satisfied.

The half hour wait for Radiohead was excruciating and emotional but as the lights dimmed and the fabled five (now six with touring drummer Clive Deamer of Portishead) took the stage, it was all worth it. Opening with first single Lotus Flower from their latest album The King of Limbs the percussive nature of their most recent output became apparent. The crowd erupted with a roar that matched the groove of the band, clearly in their prime after two years straight of touring. ‘Ooh yes doctor give me three more of those!’ exclaimed an excited Thom Yorke after the first few songs of the set, clearly humbled by the crowds warm reception and with a confidence not apparent in their earlier touring life.

The set moved easily between the classic hits of yesteryear and the modern favourite of their latest two albums, which the set leaned heavily on. Songs from Hail To The Theif such as There There and Myximatosis took on new life in the brilliantly mixed Entertainment Centre, reaching surprisingly heavy levels. How to Disappear Completely was a set highlight, bringing myself and I’m sure many other to tears. With the closing chords of the classic Paranoid Andriod, Radiohead left the stage, but we knew there would be more.

A simple vocal and guitar loop from Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood opened the first of three encores for the band and silenced the whole arena. Effortlessly, Radiohead took the audience on a journey through themselves and through their back catalogue. The stage setup was incredible but this was not fully realised until  15 Step when the ten screens that moved around the stage, showing light or video, formed a shell around the band, pulsating with the music. A live remix of Everything Is In It’s Right Place set the crowd alight with intrigue and it set the stage for final song, Idioteque.

This was the culminating point of over two hours or aural perfection and the crowd was wet with anticipation. The song took on a life of its own as Yorke bounded around the stage, a man possessed by the rhythm. A simple mistake from Colin Greenwood (bass) however, turned Yorke’s mood around, ‘I’m sorry we fucked up Sydney, you were great’ were his final words. This mistake proved to the crowd that Radiohead are in fact human and was refreshing after the journey we had just been taken on.

By Tom Lane (aka Radiohead’s biggest fan)

 

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