Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Radiohead in West Palm Beach (5 May 2008)

My impression of America? It's just too exciting to dismiss or overly praise. I find it really distressing when British bands come to America and return home and they're disparaging about Americans, as if you can dismiss the whole country. There are cities I love and would happily live in. There's too much variation to describe it, I think. Overall, it's a buzz. It's the best thing you can do, to tour America as a band.

- Jonny Greenwood

That was from a 1997 interview back when Jonny and his mates were dealing with the weight of being called "the saviors of rock and roll" in the wake of the critical acclaim and success of OK Computer. Thankfully, they survived the near emotional and professional break-ups of the late 90's to fashion a series of stellar albums (each uniquely great) and find a happy equilibrium between recording, touring and life. The critics may no longer refer to Radiohead as saviors, but that's just as well. To the fans they're simply the best and most consistently interesting band of the last decade.

Now Radiohead are doing it again -- touring America as a band -- and the In Rainbows tour debuted earlier tonight right here in West Palm Beach. This was my second Radiohead show. I saw them the last time they played WPB in October 2003 not thinking I'd ever get the chance again. Tonight was another fantastic show! The crowd was pumped and enthusiastic as they took the stage around 9:00 and played for close to two hours. Our seats were excellent, but not close enough to get really good pictures. I have included a few of the better ones.

Here's tonight's setlist and some comments.

1. All I Need
2. Bodysnatchers
3. There There
4. Reckoner (I love watching Ed play the tambourine on this one.)

5. The Gloaming
6. Morning Bell
7. Nude (Definitely the most atmospherically beautiful moment of the evening. Thom nailed it.)
8. How to Disappear Completely
9. 15 Steps (this one had everybody on their feet)
10. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi (The only evidence of opening night hiccups came here. Apparently Thom didn't like the ending so he gestured to Ed and Jonny to keep their guitars on and they did an impromptu repeat of the coda. Thom: "We didn't practice this enough.")
11. Idioteque (Insanely fun as always.)
12. Bullet Proof...I Wish I Was (One of the surprising additions. Very nice!)
13. Where I End and You Begin
14. Airbag
15. Everything In It's Right Place (This was the final encore of the 2003 show.)
16. National Anthem (The crowd was really into this one. The lighting and video effects were amazing and Jonny was doing his thing with the radio.)
17. Videotape

First Encore

18. Optimistic (Thom: "This is an oldish one.")
19. Just (This one had everybody singing along to the chorus with Jonny on the attack.)
20. Faust Arp (Ed, Colin & Phil left the stage. Thom and Jonny teamed up to do a pretty acoustic version.)

21. Exit Music (Another homerun. Featured some cool effects by Jonny.)
22. Bangers & Mash (The highlight of the evening for me with Thom on drum and Jonny ripping off some of the best guitar of the evening. It seemed like most of the crowd didn't know this one, but I was dancing like a maniac. Thom introduced it with the most dialogue of the evening. "We just spent three days in Miami Beach. What's going on there? Some kind of reconstruction. For once I was proud to be white, pale and English!" If you've been there you know what he means.)

Second Encore

23. House of Cards
24. Street Spirit

One positive and negative comparison to the 2003 WPB show. On the positive side, the video display they're using this tour is fabulous. It's a multi-paneled horizontal display behind the stage that seamlessly integrates with the lighting. Much more interesting than the standard giant screens on either side of the stage. On the negative side the sound mix wasn't as good tonight as in 2003. Granted, it may have had more to do with the venue or where we were sitting. It did seem to get dialed in better as the show went on though.

Radiohead proved again tonight that they're still on top of their game. It's something to watch them seemlessly mix and match instruments and styles. If you're going to see them on this tour you won't be disappointed. Thankyou guys for coming to West Palm!

1 comment:

redeyespy said...

Thank you for documenting this so quickly! I have fond memories of the 2003 WPB show.