Reviews > Shows
Radiohead in Mansfield
The Great Boston area (an amphitheater 30 minutes south of that city, to be exact) welcomed a duo of alternative-rock acts with a decidedly electronic bent last Tuesday. One of those band’s name is Radiohead, having turned blip-and-beat-friendly about a third of the way through their career as it stands.
Caribou, who have remixed their tourmates’ songs before, took the stage first, comprised of a singer/effects programmer, guitarist/keyboardist, bassist and drummer. Playing a modest half-hour set, the four-piece started off with a spacey rock number in which their main singer employed a scraping instrument and the kit of their drummer, downstage of the bassist and guitarist, was its sonic centerpiece. Then, a club-ready, beat-based instrumental featuring the singer and bassist joining in on percussion, followed by a fast-paced techno-jam where their bassist sings in the manner made famous by Thom Yorke on Kid A and beyond. A dance-rock track came next, on which their singer played the flute, to solid effect. They wrapped up their five-song night with “Sun,” whose title lyric was rapidly repeated and sparer, quieter sections with tight vocal harmonies were bookended by effect-laden, full-band crescendos.
Thom Yorke and Radiohead then entered for a near two-and-half set, with their frontman getting down quite a bit to the rhythms laid down by the rest of the band, which included Portishead’s Clive Deamer as an additional drummer. The Oxford boys’ song selection leaned heavily on recent full-lengths King of Limbs (2011) and _In Rainbows+ (2007), as well as KOL era non-album tracks, such as “Staircase,” (Mr. Yorke, pre-song: “Don’t know if you know it. If you don’t, well…) “The Daily Mail,” “Identikit,” (debuted on the current tour) and “Supercollider.”
Early on in the set, large, square video panels descended from above the stage to hang randomly, shattered glass-like, above Yorke and company, and capturing feeds of band members throughout the show.
Yorke, sporting a ponytail, got behind a keyboard/programming console a good deal (“Staircase,” “Identikit,” “Feral” and “Supercollider,” for instance), played upright piano some (“The Daily Mail,” “Pyramid Song,” “Everything In Its Right Place”) and danced around herky-jerky, as has been his wont since Kid A days.
The band really drew the crowd in and dipped back aways, to Amnesiac, when—nine songs in—their singer sat down at the piano to coax out the haunting, minor-keyed opening of “Pyramid Song,” with Jonny Greenwood bowing his guitar, the slow-burner of a song building to a gradual crescendo. Arpeggios then took center-stage, as Ed O’Brien and Greenwood picked their way through the opening of the popular “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” of In Rainbows, with Thom Yorke on guitar as well and the audience singing along to the bright-for-Radiohead chorus.
After “Lotus Flower” a few songs later, the sprite-ish lead vocalist said “Alright, time for an old one,” before the band launced into the bouncy, raucous yet diaphanous Hail to the Thief hit “There, There.” This tune got the approximately 19,900-seat, part-covered area clapping along to the beat provided by Phil Selway, Mr. Deamer, Mr. O’Brien (pounding on a set of two drums in his corner) and Mr. Greenwood (also on a pair of drums); this was especially the case during the jagged guitar solo that punctuates “There, There”’s outro. For the 16th and what would be the last song of the set proper, electronic sounds kicked things off (like for many of the group’s numbers that night), but when the opening chords were played, the crowd erupted and danced along to Thom Yorke’s gyrations for “Idioteque.” This post-modern, abstract-rock piece of repeated, seemingly random, yet familiar lyrics lauched Radiohead’s (if not the modern rock world’s) foray into electronica, serves an unofficial single off the single-less Kid A (2000) and is probably its most recognizable track. Their performance of it, on the night, received the biggest applause to that point in the set, marking its high point.
Then, the first of two encores featured older songs—the pulsating “The National Anthem,” with a big bass intro by Colin Greenwood and Mr. Yorke on guitar—“Lucky,” and “Everything In Its Right Place,” which included an intro version of Neil Young’s “After the Gold Rush.” The second encore was three songs long and included one of from KOL and two from In Rainbows.
All in all, Radiohead made it a point to highlight their more recent, up-tempo, dark-dance songs, while delving back into some of their hits of yesteryear. Though the absence of many of their pre- Kid A hits may disappoint some, Thom Yorke and his mates have plenty of newly memorable music to cull concert sets from. They do their part, instrumentally, vocally and movement-wise to connect with fans.
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