Reviewed by Laura Kate
Radiohead is one of those bands that everybody seems to know of at least one song in their discography, and just based on that one song, they become enthusiastic fans…or loathe their existence. I happen to fall in the former category. The first time I heard “Creep” waaay back in the day, I just knew this was a band I would follow for a long time. You know, you hear those opening notes repeat over and over in a meandering kind of way and when you are convinced this is what the whole song will be, BAM!–lead singer/guitarist Thom York says “F–K.” Of course, this makes the song that much cooler in your teenage mind and then BAM! a raucously nasty chord bursts out and the song begins to rock. And just when you are preparing to risk slipping a disc in your neck (an unfortunate side effect of head banging), then BAM…everything goes quiet again. Ever since then I, along with many of my generation, was sucked in by the unique sound this British band produced.
So it was with high anticipation that I made my way across the Benjamin Franklin bridge over to the New Jersey side of the Delaware River to see Radiohead at the Susquehanna Bank Center for the final show of their American tour. This is not my favorite of venues, but it’s also not the worst I’ve ever been in. We had lawn tickets, which wasn’t bad because the music was just as good up on the hill where we were standing, perched behind the rail that separates the lawn from the drop into the walkway to concessions and bathrooms. There were screens that showed the action from the stage and seriously, everyone was very relaxed and completely nice where we were at. In fact, the couple next to us brought a huge bag of glow in the dark necklaces and bracelets and just gave them out to everyone around and even threw some of them to random strangers coming back with pretzels and popcorn. How generous!
I think the crowd there was a good reflection of the band’s following: a little strange and definitely uncommon, but overall very nice and generous with their talents. Radiohead did not play their most widely known singles, such as “Creep” and “Karma Police,” but did a good job of highlighting selections from each of their many albums. At first, I felt a little salty about not hearing the popular favorites, but a short while later I didn’t care because I was being reminded of the prolific catalog of music they have recorded since the 1992 breakout debut of “Creep.” They had a strong opening with “Bloom” and flowed right into “There There.” Standout songs for me were “Lucky” and “Nude,” both of which were sung with such raw emotion that I was completely swept up in the musical experience and everything else was tuned out. The visuals were nice accents that added to but didn’t distract from the music–in fact, they were quite beautiful, even from the lawn.
The fans were in complete harmony with the band, something that rarely ever happens. In fact, they were so appreciated, that the band came out for two encores for a total of seven songs. Many bands have tried to emulate Radiohead (usually with dismal results) and when someone tries to describe a song that has a few quirky electronic loops or high male vocals singing with lament, they might throw out the standard, “You know, like Radiohead. But different.” However, I think Radiohead has proven their worth as a stand-out band with a unique sound and plush lyrics that make fans stand by them through the years.
Final thought: If you get to a chance to see Radiohead, please do. It is like a musical communion between the band and the crowd.
Set list (Susquehanna Bank Center, June 13, 2012):
- There There
- Kid A
- Morning Mr. Magpie
- The Gloaming
- Like Spinning Plates
- 15 Step
- Lotus Flower
- Paranoid Android
- Little by Little
- Give Up the Ghost
- I Might Be Wrong
- House of Cards
- Everything In Its Right Place