Forget all the years they refused to perform ‘Creep’ – Radiohead play the hits Glastonbury 2017’s Friday night headline set. 20 years on from their fondly-remembered 1997 appearance on the Pyramid Stage, they favour nostalgia over introspection, picking fan favourites from their back catalogue. It’s a heroic statement at the festival where they first broke through.
Marking their third headline set at Glastonbury, the band open with solemn piano-led song ’Daydreaming’. It’s one of just two tracks from latest album ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ to make an appearance. Besides this and the bass-driven ‘Ful Stop’, everything played caters to those who first saw them hitting new heights 20 years back.
Back in 1997, in a show that defined the band’s legacy, they opened with highlight ‘Lucky’. Technical problems plagued their set back then, to the point where Thom Yorke almost stormed off stage and called it a day. It’s a much smoother ride this time. ‘Airbag’, ‘Let Down’, ‘Paranoid Android’ and ‘No Surprises’ all make an appearance. And closing song ‘Karma Police’ is met with chants that ring back long after the band exit the Pyramid Stage. ‘OK Computer’ is one of the most-cited records in Greatest Albums Of All Time rundowns, to the point where it’s become obligatory, but this performance explains why. And in the crowd, they’re backed by pro-Jeremy Corbyn chants and a sense of optimism. Frontman Thom Yorke laps it up, shouting “strong and stable!” midway through ‘Myxomatosis’ before telling the current Prime Minster: “See you later, Theresa. Just shut the door on the way out.”
For every celebrated fan favourite, post-00’s songs aren’t lowered to filler. Shuffling ‘In Rainbows’ opener ’15 Step’ kicks the set into action when it’s threatening to simmer down, and the hyperactive ‘Bloom’ is a percussive beast. For every experimental nod to the present day, a dizzying light show commands attention.
Nothing about this set looks backwards. Radiohead’s 90’s heyday was defined by pre-millennium tension and techno-paranoia, but it’s this which makes the band relevant today. Their distrust of just about everything has carried over into the next two decades. And their greatest skill is in how they translate this gloomy information age misery into something oddly euphoric. It proved true in 1997 and 2003, it proves true again tonight. “What a fucking great place this is,” Yorke says. “Ain’t nothing else like it on earth.”
Exit Music (for a Film)
Everything in Its Right Place
You and Whose Army?
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
2 + 2 = 5
Fake Plastic Trees