October 7 is Thom Yorke’s birthday, and the Radiohead frontman spends almost all of tonight’s Austin City Limits headline set playing hit after hit. Hardcore fans might be disappointed not to witness the unshelving of a neglected cut – the band have made a habit of resurrecting rarely played tracks like ‘The Daily Mail’ on their 2016 tour – but the near-unbroken salvo of classics tonight more than makes up for it.
Just before he plays the final track of the night, Yorke puts on a pseudo-Northern accent for the mostly Texan crowd. “As it’s my birthday and everythink,” he says, “I’d like to dedicate this to all my friends and these people here on the stage who I love very much. And I’m very happy to spend my birthday with these buggers.”
Though the best instance of the frontman’s good humour doesn’t appear until this point, it’s been obvious since opener ‘Burn The Witch’ – on which he drawls “this is a roundup” with relish. He later stops to introduce himself with an exaggeratedly well-to-do accent: “Good evening people of Austin. This band is called Radiohead, we are in one corner of the field. Various other things going on. If you choose to see them, bugger off. If not, stay here and enjoy the show so much, thank you.”
Under a glinting set of fireflies, and alongside the crowd’s fantastical paraphernalia – the Game of Thrones Stark banner and a Kylo Ren lightsaber among them – Yorke’s idiosyncratic speeches add a slightly unreal feel to proceedings, but the setlist is totally solid.Opening with three songs from their 2016 album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’, the Oxford band then switch into tracks that span the period between 1995’s ‘The Bends’ and 2007’s ‘In Rainbows’ with a little of 2011’s ‘The King Of Limbs’ thrown in for good measure.
The only real curveballs are ‘The National Anthem’, ‘The Gloaming’ and ‘There, There’; mainly Yorke’s rocking out to well-known tracks like ‘My Iron Lung’, ‘Paranoid Android’ and ‘Bloom’, or bewitching the crowd with ‘Reckoner’, ‘Let Down’ and ‘Nude’. By the time it’s over – while Yorke is busy making his birthday speech – it seems like he’s enjoyed himself, and in doing so, he’s shown the crowd a great time. 48th birthday well spent.
Burn the Witch
My Iron Lung
The National Anthem
All I Need
Everything in Its Right Place
Fake Plastic Trees