It just so happens that I’m married to the biggest Radiohead fan I’ve ever met. It’s also a coincidence that he is a musician and a great writer. I believe you already figured out who is Blackberry Jam’s official collaborator of the month. Ladies and Gents, Nathan Collins:
“Radiohead rolled into town this past Wednesday night for a show in Mansfield that would ebb and flow with excitement and restrained beauty. More than any other time in their career, the band seems to be at peace with its music, its fans and most importantly itself. What more can be said about Radiohead at this point? They have encapsulated the utter alienation and powerlessness inherent in modern living and turned it into something quite palpable and powerful for legions of music fans and critics alike. As they have grown ever bigger in scope and influence, they have somehow become more intimate with their fan base. They have managed to embrace new music formats and technology while still maintaining the sanctity of putting out great records. While the world goes mad with Ipod sound byte culture, the rest of us are impatiently waiting to see what Oxford’s finest will do next. The band is the pre-eminent modern rock band and a true artistic gauge for the new millennium.
For this fan in particular, they have time-stamped every important phase of my adult life. OK Computer ushered me away from grunge and into a soul-searching freshman year of college and is a record that stands atop the heap of late 90s post-grunge and ‘late to the party’ alt-rock nonsense. 2000’s Kid A lured me into perhaps a drug-hazed and more introspective senior year of college, with a forward glance to the future. 2003’s Hail to the Thief sustained me through my first real heartbreak and eased my self-doubt. And now with all of the expectations so incredibly high, the release of In Rainbows marks my transition into married life.
As I lied in bed Wednesday afternoon with a debilitating migraine, I went to sleep with a sense of disappointment that I might not in fact be able to attend the show, what was supposed to be the pinnacle event of the summer for me. And as I slept, I’m fairly sure Radiohead were the soundtrack to my convoluted dreams. I awoke four hours later feeling somehow refreshed and compelled to make it to Great Woods (or whatever the hell they call it now).
As we pulled into the parking lot, I could hear the chiming organ and bass tones of Kid A followed by the dark and sexy drum and bass groove of All I Need. My wife noted how good it sounded from so far away.
The show was a great mix of In Rainbows material and Kid A songs with a few classics to spare (i.e. The Bends and Karma Police). Loose and energetic, the band adeptly moved through mid-tempo rockers and more electronic based songs. Long gone are the days of OK Computer onstage discomfort. Today Radiohead finds itself working massive crowds into frenzied rhythms with songs like The National Anthem and Everything In Its Right Place. No one could have predicted these types of live interpretations upon the release of the darkly powerful and alienating Kid A from 2000. Contrary to the claustrophobic and synthetic feel on the album, Everything In Its Right Place is a crowd-clapping foot-stomper with Yorke’s vocal loops doing circles in the sky. There is something to be said for the versatility of the band on display during the Gloaming, with music whiz-kid Johnny Greenwood simulating loops with various effects and the elder Colin playing a slinky bass-line. Drummer Phil Selway is nothing short of a metronome at this point, often playing in and out of parts with electronic beats with precision. Certain tracks from In Rainbows including Nude, Videotape, Faust Arp and House of Cards filled the cool August night air with a delicate serenity.
The anthemic Bends launched the crowd into full throttle 90s guitar glory. Yorke’s solo introduction to Exit Music leveled the crowd into a silence I’ve never heard in the venue, save for one fan who exclaimed “Thom Yorke for president”. And this was acceptable on this night, because there seemed to be plenty of good cheer going around. Arpeggi’s cyclone of guitar lines at times would convince that you that there were five guitar players instead of three. This versatility, virtuosity and vision has enabled Radiohead to write and record brilliant arrangements and simulate them in very interesting ways live. The music world waits for what’s next.”
… and the blogosphere waits for Nate’s own blog. We’ll see how convincing I can be about that.
Thank you, baby.