Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Radiohead played a brilliant set...

Radiohead played to a sell out 16,000 crowd in Paris last night at the Amnesty International concert celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration Of Human Rights, their only gig this year.

With a bill that also included ALANIS MORISSETTE, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – who played an acoustic very early in the evening – and PAGE & PLANT, Radiohead’s set was generally acknowledged to be vintage stuff.

THOM YORKE appears relaxed and combative. (writes NME‘s JAMES OLDHAM) Eyes shut and head shaking, his every move provokes screaming delirium in the crowd, and when he starts punching the air and jumping on the spot just prior to ‘Paranoid Android’, he provokes fainting fits across the building. That the audience regard him as human in bodily form alone is beyond doubt, and frankly, it’s lucky he doesn’t know any French beyond an occasional “Ca Va?” or else Amnesty would be forced to lay on extra ambulances.


After only fifty minutes of this frenzied devotion (which is still a full twenty minutes longer than anyone else has been allotted) Radiohead are forced to begin their final song, with an eloquent reminder of why they are here and a simple thank you. What follows is a carefully measured rendition of ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’, the tick-tock rhythm and sky-bound melody soaring out and above the crowd before snapping to a halt in an instant and leaving the band to depart in silence.

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The band’s full set was ‘Lucky’, ‘Karma Police’, ‘Exit Music’, ‘Talk Show Host’, ‘My Iron Lung’, ‘No Surprises’, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’, ‘Bones’, ‘Paranoid Android’ and ‘Street Spirit’.

Coinciding with the historic decision of Home Secretary Jack Straw to allow Chilean former dictator Augusto Pinochet to be tried in a UK court of law for human rights abuses, Amnesty International celebrated the 50th anniversary just as international law seems at last to have grown some teeth. The Universal Declaration, coming in the wake of the Holocaust, has largely been an empty document with dictators such as Pol Pot, Idi Amin and Ferdinand Marcos being allowed to escape justice for their crimes as well as the atrocities in Rwanda and Bosnia-Hercegovina in the early 90s.

French President Jacques Chirac called for the creation of a new “worldwide legal order” to protect human rights everywhere.

The Dalai Llama appeared onstage and made a speech and Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi sent a message of support, as did President Nelson Mandela of South Africa, once the world’s most famous political prisoner.

Read James Oldham‘s review in full in the Christmas edition of NME, out on Tuesday in London and on Wednesday across the UK.

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