Radiohead say their Glastonbury 1997 headline set was ‘a form of hell’

Band's infamous set saw them suffer from technical problems

Radiohead have discussed their chaotic but classic Glastonbury 1997 headline set, with guitarist Ed O’Brien describing it as feeling like a “form of hell” at the time.

The band headline Worthy Farm’s Pyramid stage again this weekend (Friday, June 23) having previously headlined in both 1997 and 2003. Their famed 1997 performance was riddled with mistakes with the band suffering from technical problems.

Speaking to Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 2, O’Brien recalled: “It was like a form of hell. We were doing something that was like a dream, to play the Pyramid Stage on a Saturday night, it doesn’t get better than that. [But] to find yourself in a situation whereby it felt like we were in crisis mode – the equipment failure was happening, [we were] trying to keep all members onstage, people not walking off – it was like ‘this should be a heaven but was like a kind of hell’.”


O’Brien added that their experience may have helped “galvanise” the group. Listen to the clip here.

Frontman Thom Yorke recently discussed how he came close to walking off stage during the set. Yorke spoke about how he nearly abandoned the performance during the encore because “all the speakers have been blowing up and stuff.”

“At one point I just went over to Ed [O’Brien, guitarist]. I tapped him on the shoulder and said, ‘I’m off mate, see you later,'” said Yorke. “He turned around and went, ‘If you do, you’ll probably live the rest of your life regretting it’. I went, ‘Good point.'”

Yorke also admitted that he initially didn’t want to perform at Glastonbury at all. “I’d burnt myself out,” he said. “We had a meeting about what we were going to do for the shows and I was like, ‘I can’t do Glastonbury’. I just needed a break. And in fact I didn’t get one for another year and a bit, by which point I was pretty much catatonic.”

Radiohead release a 20th anniversary of their classic album ‘OK Computer’ tomorrow, the same day that they play Glastonbury.

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