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- Radiohead »
“Chill the fuck out!” orders Thom as a crowdsurfer ignores the messages prohibiting such activity adorning the Civic's walls, and momentarily we do. Later, when he gestures to us for more applause, we comply readily - and how could we resist? Without a doubt, though he might claim not to like the attention, this man was purpose built for the spotlight.
Perhaps not the multitude of tape recorders and MTV cameras, or the block-long trails of autograph hunters circa The Bends/OK Computer, but under the warmth of the stage lights is where Thom comes alive. He's not alone, for Jonny, Ed, Colin and Phil sport smiles too as they diligently go about their business, producing the most mind bending space-rock this side of Mars. They're officially back, and boy have we missed them.
Of course, there are the superhits, albeit fewer than in Radiohead sets of old. 'Lucky', 'My Iron Lung', 'Karma Police' and 'No Surprises' are always welcome guests at any pop party, but it's to the new material we look with a sense of expectation. As gorgeous as those four might be, it's hearing the 'Head's latest compositions that provokes the most excitement in those who've lost themselves many times over in the past to all these classics.
Thankfully (and did you really expect anything else?), it's easy to imagine these latest creations giving a new generation of Radiohead fan those same spine-tingling moments. Hearing the masterful full-band version of 'Arpeggi' makes the hairs stand on end, seeing Thom's spasmodic dancing during '15 Step' recalls memories of 2003 and 'Bangers 'n Mash' takes things back ten years further to a full frontal, Pablo Honey-ish garage-grunge assault.
Reports of a wholesale return to guitar music à la The Bends is a little wide of the mark. Instead, it seems the Oxford quintet have cherry picked from their unparallelled back catalogue to produce a new set that offers both brain boggling electronica and guitar pyrotechnics, often in the same song. 'Bodysnatchers', saved for the encore, is one such beast, offering an exciting prelude to the next album, whenever that should arrive.
In the meantime, we're left with a tantalising glimpse of a band free from the shackles of the record industry doing exactly as they please – and, crucially, enjoying what they do once again. Their next move could be a download-only EP, an arena tour or, God forbid, a double album, but whatever they spring upon us, Thom's earlier instruction is going to be damn near impossible for any self-respecting Radiohead fan to follow.
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