• Phew, for a minute there I lost myself

    Jul 1 2008, 9h59

    Wed 25 Jun – Radiohead, Bat For Lashes

    I'll start off by saying this was the best gig I've ever seen. We were right at the front, on the right, about 20ft away from Jonny Greenwood. We had to arrive six and a half hours before they took the stage to get such a good spot, but it was well worth it.

    After a decent enough set by Bat For Lashes - the music may not have been that inspiring, but she's certainly easier on the eye than five blokes in their 40s from Oxford - Radiohead finally came on stage at around 8.15. The sun seemed to hover on the horizon for an age, casting a warm glow over the band normally renowned for the detached demeanour. In this case such a reputation seemed nonsense, with Ed grinning his way through, Jonny almost actually strutting during his guitar solos, Colin bouncing around like a hyperactive child, and arch-miserablist Thom Yorke actually making jokes, smiling, and even on the odd occasion cracking up with laughter. Presumably Phil was in a good mood too, hidden away behind his drum kit.

    The sun it seemed decided that it didn't want to actually set quite yet, and remained on the horizon as the early part of the set consisted largely of some of the band's more ethereal and relaxed songs - opening with Reckoner and continuing through the likes of There There, All I Need, and the perfectly-sung Nude, the light seemed perfect for songs that one might consider simple when compared with others in their oeuvre. Indeed, this didn't go unnoticed by the band, Thom explaining "in a minute, the sun will go down, then we'll turn these lights on".

    As the sun did indeed go down, the band moved away from the newer In Rainbows material, and towards their more experimental material, drawing more heavily on Kid A, as well as surprising us with Myxomatosis, one of the darker songs on Hail To The Thief. The remainder of the main set was sparsely interspersed with the odd "hit" - No Surprises and Idioteque probably the most well-known of the lot. The main set closed with Bodysnatchers. After Thom's incredible vocal performances on Videotape, Optimistic, and the aforementioned Nude and No Surprises, this song showcased the ability of the entire band to still capture the energetic and vocal crowd with what was essentially a Bends-esque rock song, albeit one of the most neurotic "rock" songs ever written - if Woody Allen chose to move away from jazz, then this might be the kind of song he wrote.

    Inevitably, the band took to the stage for an encore shortly afterward. After opening with the relaxed House Of Cards, the band decided to go for a mix of the high-tempo and the crowd-pleasers. Of course with The Bends, they managed to get both into one song, and continued in this vein before closing with a stunning rendition of Karma Police. After the song had finished Thom began strumming his acoustic guitar again, and led the crowd in an extended singalong of "for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself". The singing continued as the band went offstage, and didn't stop until they returned for a third set.

    Obviously this was always going to be a shorter encore. Thom brought the falsetto back for a beautiful rendition of Go Slowly, one of the more obscure songs from In Rainbows (Thom acknowledging that one or two of us might not know it). After a frenetic 2+2=5, the set was finally brought to an end with a show-stopping Paranoid Android. After this seven-minute masterpiece, the band left the stage with a swift "goodnight", and the multi-coloured lights left the stage in rainbows (very clever).

    As it happens, my sister got some really good photos, which I've uploaded to my Flickr page here...


    15 Step
    There There
    All I Need
    The National Anthem
    Faust Arp
    No Surprises
    Jigsaw Falling Into Place
    Everything In Its Right Place

    House Of Cards
    The Bends
    Bangers & Mash
    My Iron Lung
    Karma Police

    Go Slowly
    Paranoid Android