15 May 2008

Live Review: Radiohead, Charlotte, NC, May 9, 2008

Would it be asking too much to go ahead and proclaim Radiohead to be the biggest band in the world right now? Who are the competitors? In terms of cash, the Rolling Stones would be at the top of the heap, and for sheer longevity I’ll award R.E.M. and U2 for their 20+ year careers. But in terms of sustainability, fanbase (casual or otherwise), and sheer unpredictability, I’ll vote for Radiohead to claim the top spot. So what does the biggest band in the world sound like live?

Pretty boring, actually.

I’m not going to pan Radiohead in a live review. I enjoyed every minute of my time at the concert (even when some 17-year-old punks decided it would be okay to smoke pot beside me in seats that weren’t theirs). It’s over three hours to Charlotte from Charleston, and I-77 is an unforgiving stretch of interstate at 2 AM—but that’s neither here nor there. The sheer enjoyment of being able to say, “Yes, I’ve seen Radiohead live” was enough to make me go all a-twitter.

My companion, P, and I arrived late, missing the opening set by The Liars (though we did hear them from the road into the venue where we sat in traffic for 90 minutes). And once we found our seats the show started as the clouds released threatening lightning overhead. P was of the mindset that they would open with “15 Step” since the last time he saw Radiohead in Atlanta the opened with “2 + 2=5,” the first track of their then-released Hail to the Thief. I was banking on a livelier opener, like “Bodysnatchers.”

Both wrong, we were greeted with “All I Need” followed by “There There,” two songs that show such a restrained climax it’s almost unbearable. The show picked up after a few songs with “Airbag” and “Idioteque” but remained restrained most all evening until the end of their set when an amped-up version of “Everything In its Right Place,” “Bangers and Mash,” and “Bodysnatchers” materialized. “We might need to go lay down and take a nap after this one,” Thom Yorke joked before “Bodysnatchers” began.

They left the stage, but then reappeared for two encores. The first encore held an incredibly dull song with acoustic guitar, “Talk Show Host” (you know, that cool track from the lame Romeo + Juliet movie?), “Exit Music (For A Film),” and “House of Cards.” I was in the parking lot by the time encore number 2 started, I heard the opening stanza of “Paranoid Android” and kicked myself for leaving, but not too badly.

You see, I’m not entirely sure what I want out of stadium concerts at this point in my life. I’m spoiled by intimate venues where I can talk to the artists, take photos, and buy a cd directly from them. I could barely see the band onstage, the sound was great, but all the songs basically sounded like they were coming out of my home stereo, only louder. Radiohead have nothing to prove to me or anyone, and that’s what makes them a phenomenal band and I’m sure they struggle with the lack on intimacy in a stadium show. But for anyone who didn’t make it out to see them, or who won’t make it as they continue across the US of A, don’t worry; you’ve got all that you need right there on CD or vinyl. Enjoy it.

Radiohead 5/9/08 Charlotte, NC Set List

Set 1: All I Need, There There, Airbag, 15 Step, Nude, Sail to the Moon, Weird Fishes/Apreggi, Myxomatosis, Idioteque, Morning Bell, Videotape, Optimistic, Where I End and You Begin, You and Whose Army?, Everything in Its Right Place, Bangers & Mash, Bodysnatchers

Encore 1: Go Slowly, Talk Show Host, Exit Music, Planet Telex , House of Cards

Encore 2: Paranoid Android, Reckoner

Read this guy's blog (solely dedicated to Phish) who was apparently live blogging at the show. His descriptions of the people in the parking lot are dead on.


Jim said...

dude, i'm totally mixing sonvolt next weekend. I'm a little psyched. how's things down in your neck of the woods?

Metavari said...

Hi there, I stumbled upon your blog tonight. I really enjoy it. It's not official yet but I think my band, Metavari, is playing in Mt. Pleasant with El Ten Eleven on the 24th of June. If you would like I can send you our ep for listening or reviewing pleasure. Send me an email @ ty@mtvri.com if you're interested.
Thanks, Ty

christinelawlor420 said...

Best concert of my life!

christinelawlor420 said...
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