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At this point of their career, writing about RADIOHEAD is almost unnecessary. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy last night’s sold-out show at the Susquehanna Bank Center in Camden. Quite the contrary. As always, Radiohead were flat-out terrific and proved once again that they are the closest thing that this generation has to a band like PINK FLOYD. They can be as weird and experimental as they like, at least in relation to most other bands of their stature, but yet they have a dedicated, almost fanatical fanbase. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re one of the best live bands on the planet. They’re also one of the most critically lauded rock bands of all-time, so when I write about them, I feel that my contribution is (as I said above) almost unnecessary.
Since the release of In Rainbows last October, first as a much-ballyhooed pay what you want download and then on the more traditional CD and vinyl formats back in January, much has been made of how they released the album and too little has been made of the actual music on it. Nevertheless, on this night we would find out how the newer material would blend in with songs from albums like The Bends, OK Computer and Kid A (at the time of its release, ti was controversial, but now it’s rightfully considered one of their best albums). And well, just like every other time I’ve seen them, they made it look and sound effortless.
They played for a little under two hours and the first hour and a half or so consisted of the main set before the encores. Opening with “15 Step”, the opening track on In Rainbows, they proceeded to play most of the new album along with a healthy smattering of songs from just about their entire career. As usual, though, songs from their so-so debut Pablo Honey were omitted from the setlist (although it should be noted that the previous time I’d see them, back in October 2003 at Madison Square Garden on their last tour, they played not only that album’s big hit “Creep” but “Lurgee” as well). Honestly, I thought that “15 Step” was a weak, if logical, opener as it also opens In Rainbows. However, by the second track, the post-punk influenced “There There” (from 2003’s Hail to the Thief), they were clearly ON and would remain so for the rest of the evening. In particular, “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” (my favorite track on In Rainbows) and the sequence that started with “Jigsaw Falling into Place” going into the title track of The Bends were highlights. Really, though, there wasn’t a bad moment in the set. If there were any surprises, it was that they played so much material from The Bends. In addition to the title track, “Just” got a hearing in the main set and they closed out the long, four-song 1st encore with the eerie, depressing but beautiful “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”. Furthermore, during the second encore we got an unexpected and great rendition of “Planet Telex” that showed a debt to MY BLOODY VALENTINE that I’d never really ascribed to that track before. And when the evening ended with “Everything in Its Right Place”, it was time to exit the ampitheatre and go off into the Camden night.
Openers GRIZZLY BEAR played a nice set of late ‘60s/early ‘70s folk and psychedelic-inspired indie-rock. I enjoyed their set, but I get the feeling they would be much better in a smaller place, like a synagogue in Washington, DC that they played the previous evening. Still, I thought they sounded better here than the usually quiet and introspective LOW (who are terrific, but they were totally drowned out by the size of the venue) did opening for them on the Hail to the Thief tour.
Here’s the setlist (found here).
01. 15 Step
02. There There
03. Morning Bell
04. All I Need
05. The National Anthem
07. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi0
8. The Gloaming
09. Where I End And You Begin
10. Faust Arp
11. No Surprises
13. The Bends
15. Climbing Up The Walls
18. House of Cards
20. Go Slowly
22. Street Spirit
23. Reckoner24. Planet Telex25. Everything In Its Right Place
Thanks again to CHRIS SIKICH for letting me use one of his photos again. You can see more of his photos here.