[QUOTE][B]Radiohead makes innovative music, on its own terms, at first of two Newark shows[/B]
Published: Friday, June 01, 2012, 1:36 PM Updated: Friday, June 01, 2012, 2:00 PM
By Tris McCall/The Star-Ledger
From a distance, they were mirror images: two drummers, balding and black-shirted, going hard behind their kits and facing the center of the Prudential Center stage.
But at a Radiohead concert, everything bears closer inspection — and closer inspection revealed that Phil Selway and Clive Deamer were anything but carbon copies. They were busy hammering out rhythms that, in isolation, did not seem to have anything to do with each other. Yet so synchronized were these musicians — and so ingenious were their parts — that they worked side by side like two pistons in a single engine.
At a different kind of concert, there would have been a drum-spotlight segment. The other musicians would have cleared the stage, and Selway and Deamer would have shot the works. But members of Radiohead do not show off. The band thrilled a packed house at the Newark arena at the first of two shows, Thursday — the second takes place tonight, with Caribou opening — with music of substantial complexity — songs redolent of the graceful polyrhythms of Afropop and the austerity, ambition and paranoia of British progressive rock.
The musicians did not call attention to their eccentricities, although there were many. And they did not take wild leads, although guitarists Ed O’Brien and Jonny Greenwood were more than capable of doing so. Instead, they presented a succession of unusual textures, taking each sonic and compositional detour with understated confidence and quiet swagger.
Selway, Radiohead’s drummer since its formation in Oxford, England in 1985, has been joined by Deamer out of necessity. Radiohead’s music has become so rhythmically intricate that a single drummer will no longer do. At times during the concert, four of the six musicians slammed percussion instruments, lending a unexpected jam band feel to a show that was otherwise tightly scripted.
Thom Yorke of Radiohead, at the Prudential Center in Newark on Wednesday.
Since the 2000 release of the landmark “Kid A” album, Radiohead’s music has come untethered from the conventions of guitar-based rock, and fans have come to demand innovation from their heroes — and fret when it isn’t delivered. “The King of Limbs,” the group’s uncharacteristically sedate eighth album (released with little fanfare last year), divided the faithful. Was Radiohead falling into a rut? Was the band finally out of experiments?
Perhaps the group’s own proclivity for self-effacement was at fault — “King” features songs of great rhythmic subtlety, but the mixes are often so muted and atmospheric that the experimentation isn’t immediately apparent. In concert, thought, Selway and Deamer brought the songs to life with dizzying syncopation, particularly the manic “Morning Mr. Magpie” and the slinky “Bloom.”
If you didn’t come for the new sound, you were out of luck. Radiohead, never a band concerned with crowd-pleasing moves, played exactly one song from its three popular ’90s albums, all of which display greater fealty to rock convention than “King.” (That song was “Karma Police,” from “OK Computer.”) Even “Kid A” was treated as yesterday’s news, although a main set-closing rendition of glitch-pop meltdown “Idioteque” was one of the concert’s most obvious successes.
Radiohead has often been called chilly, humorless and too obsessed with precision to really rock. While there is some truth to these charges, they’re overstated. A pity, then, that frontman Thom Yorke continues to be one of the toughest people in popular music to warm to. Yorke spends concerts in a kind of trance, and it doesn’t seem to be a very pleasant reverie, either. Instead, he seems deliberately — and showily — disconnected from the audience.
Over the years, his fabled anti-charisma has become its own sort of egotism. “Thanks for coming all the way out here,” he told the audience, “wherever this may be.” Yorke did not sound like he was joking — he sounded like a guy who thought that Radiohead fans, sophisticates that they are, ought to live somewhere more glamorous.
The crowd didn’t seem to mind; your correspondent had steam coming out of his ears. You were in Newark, New Jersey, Mr. Yorke, which is not all the way out anywhere. You were in a real underdog town. I had assumed that Radiohead was a real underdog band. I won’t make that mistake again.
Thursday night was good. Friday night was epic. Paranoid Android was a borderline religious experience for me.
[QUOTE=Traitor Jay & the Woodies;4483678]Wow. Great set list.
You got Airbag AND Paranoid Android you lucky bastard. Go to sleep and There there as well. Great stuff.[/QUOTE]
Aye, more older stuff than I expected tbqh. And some of the more mellow stuff I really love as well. "There There" was mindblowingly good.
Overall, an amazing show. One of the best I've seen, up there with Muse (stunning live show), my first Metallica Show (12th row, Black Album Tour), and a step below Floyd's Massive Epic Division Bell shows in 94'.
[QUOTE=Warfish;4483685]Aye, more older stuff than I expected tbqh. And some of the more mellow stuff I really love as well. "There There" was mindblowingly good.
Overall, an amazing show. One of the best I've seen, up there with Muse (stunning live show), my first Metallica Show (12th row, Black Album Tour), and a step below Floyd's Massive Epic Division Bell shows in 94'.[/QUOTE]
Agreed. And how about that stage set? Never seen anything like it.
[QUOTE=Traitor Jay & the Woodies;4483700]Agreed. And how about that stage set? Never seen anything like it.[/QUOTE]
It was great, but in fairness, it was VERY much like Muse's recent tour in general concept, and very very Floydian IMO. Thats agood thing, I should add. :D I loved it.
As an addendum, I'll never under understand the Muse vs. Radiohead divide. The two bands are both brilliant, but despite similar sounding lead vocals, they derive their entire sound from vastly different places. Radiohead is/was cutting edge avant garde techno-rock-concept-prog unlike anything else, while Muse is literally gradiose bombastic Queen reborn in the modern Alt-Rock era. Interestingly, both have to one degree or another abandoned their early works, Radiohead leaving Guitar-based Rock behind and Muse leaving it's more Radiohead-esque influences behind.
But both are some of the most brilliant live acts one could see today.