Thom Yorke didn't say much and let the music speak for itself as the band embarked on their first UK tour in three years in Wales tonight...
Radiohead played the opening date of their first UK tour for more than three years earlier tonight (Friday September 1) before a crowd of 10,000 in a purpose-built marquee in the grounds of Newport Tredegar Hall in Wales – the band emerging in a haze of red light to bring their “genuine freakshow” to life.
New album ‘Kid A’ might be the record that arrived with a manifesto of minimal guitars and a a blueprint inspired by Aphex Twin and Authechre, but live tonight, new songs like ‘The National Anthem’ – a powerful opener packed with juddering ‘Bends’-style intent – and the ferocious, focused ‘Optimisitic’, reminiscent of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Isn’t Anything’ LP – are fleshed out by a more conventional guitar style.
‘Bones’ and the sombre ‘Morning Bell’ – with lead singer Thom Yorke at the piano – complete the initial burst of songs in the first part of the set.
Yorke remains in a taciturn non-committal mood throughout the show. His comments remain limited to “thank you very much”, yet his convulsive dancing, fervent tambourine shaking and cryptically Stipe-ean hand gestures, which are relayed on a trio of screen above the audience’s heads, his demeanour is probably more eloquent than any amount of onstage banter. However, Ed O’Brien and Jonny Greenwood more than make up for the singer’s reticence with a traditionally fervent blur of hair and enthusiasm.
After a startlingly vehement ‘Paranoid Android’ and an ecstatically-received ‘My Iron Lung’, the excitable recognisation factor dips and a more muted mood takes over as the band push into all-new material.
The weirdly discordant disco ‘Idioteque’ sees Yorke dancing around in a compulsive circle, jerking his arms in a strange private code. ‘You And Whose Army’ is pure piano evil, accompanied by the sardonic grinning that was a feature at the band’s recent gig at Scott Walker’s London Meltdown Festival, while ‘In Limbo swirls around the line “Where did you park the car?” and a needling, insistent guitar.
‘Everything In Its Right Place’ is a particularly bizarre closer with minimal electric piano twisting around, following its own internal logic.
If the audience are in danger of leaving disappointed though, they’re soon treated to encores of ‘The Bends’, ‘Street Spirit’ and the new, yet relatively accessible ‘I Might Be Wrong’.
Radiohead play a second date at the same Newport venue tomorrow (Saturday September 2) then play a trio of sold-out dates at London Tower Hamlets Victoria Park on September 23, 24 & 25, before moving on to Glasgow Green (28 & 29) and Warrington Victoria Park (October 1, 2 & 3). Some tickets are still available for shows at the last two venues. For tickets, ring the nme.com 24-Hour Ticketline on 0870 1 663663. Calls are charged at national standard rate.
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