Review: Radiohead

The Oxfordshire five piece condense their two Arena shows into one at Lancashire County Cricket Club, 4 July

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Exactly one month since Ariana Grande’s One Love Manchester concert, Radiohead headline the same venue after their original two-night run of shows at Manchester Arena was condensed into one large show following the tragic terrorist attack in May.

The tightened security measures in place cause some delays in entering the ground and leave many fans hurrying onto the field as the band start promptly with Let Down. This is one of many tracks aired this evening from their seminal album OK Computer, which was reissued last month to mark its 20th anniversary. It is a rousing and emotive start to a set list similar to that of their recent headline performance at Glastonbury.

Two of the next three songs, Lucky and Airbag, also come from the same album, after which the band play a selection of offerings from their later releases. 15 Step and Myxomatosis are both brilliantly frantic, with lead singer Thom Yorke seemingly infected by the latter’s fuzzy basslines and nauseating synths.

After the slow-building Everything In Its Right Place reaches its peak, the unmistakable opening bars of No Surprises receive an outbreak of excitement from the crowd, which is now at its peak capacity. Its lullaby melody masks lyrics of sadness and despair, which receive a unified singalong from fans. In reflection of the current political landscape, the chorus is at its loudest as Yorke croons: “Bring down the government/They don’t, they don’t speak for us.” As the song ends – two decades after its release during the emergence of New Labour – a chant of “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn” ensues. Times have changed.

Yorke himself says very little between songs during the epic 26-track performance and nor does he need to. Instead, his distinct vocals and the poignant lyrics do the talking. Idioteque is a case in point: this techno-heavy earworm is littered with prophetic messages of city bankers (“Take the money and run”) and global warming (“We’re not scaremongering/This is really happening”) and was written and released long before the financial crisis and the Trump administration underlined what many people already knew about those in power.

After this high energy performance, fans are offered a moment to catch their breath with You And Whose Army? Radiohead then end their main set with two guitar-heavy tracks: the wig-out of Bodysnatchers and the venomous 2+2=5, both of which produce a strong wave of movement towards the front of the stage.

Yorke displays his signature dance moves during Lotus Flower before the band treat the crowd to a double bill of tracks from OK Computer

With nine studio albums-worth of material to showcase, Radiohead require two long encores to satisfy both their own needs and the desires of the 45,000 fans in attendance. Daydreaming – the majestic and delicate opener to last year’s A Moon Shaped Pool – is aired as darkness falls, with the atmospheric lighting featured on stage capturing its mood perfectly.

Yorke displays his signature dance moves during Lotus Flower before the band treat the crowd to a further double bill of tracks from OK Computer. Paranoid Android essentially combines three incredible songs into one jaw-dropping arrangement that shifts gear as the mood of the song’s protagonist changes. Next is Fake Plastic Trees, with its signature guitar sound of The Bends album and lyrics concerning fakery that still ring true in today’s social media age.

The second encore begins with the heartbreaking sentiment of There There, followed by recent release I Promise – a rediscovered love song from the OK Computer archives that serenades the ears with a blissful string arrangement and highlights how truly free they are as musicians, with the substantial crowd being a testament to how much their constant innovation is appreciated.

In continuation of the evening’s OK Computer trend, Karma Police – a welcome return to the band’s live repertoire – closes their set. As Radiohead depart, their fans stand firm, chanting the song’s chorus towards an empty stage, captivated by what they’ve witnessed. “For a minute there/I lost myself,” they shout, but in reality, they’d lost themselves for much longer.

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