After being somewhat underwhelmed by Radiohead from outside Lollapalooza earlier this month, I was completely blown away last night at the Hollywood Bowl. I had looked forward to seeing Radiohead at the Bowl all year as it is my favorite venue — the open [dry] air element lends itself to pristine sound and with the elaborate light/visual show put on by Radiohead’s crew, sitting in the Bowl felt not unlike floating in outer space. Jonny Greenwood is one of the greatest guitarists of our time. I’m saying this now, because, it’s not just his tone and creativity, but his ability to rip away in multiple directions and also disappear into the atmosphere of a song or play straight acoustic. Kind of like Jimmy Page. And while I like to make fun of Thom Yorke for mumbling and moaning incessantly, he was very effective and very sharp utilizing his voice as a melodic instrument. And the guy is no hack at guitar/piano either.
I snuck some short video clips with my crappy digital [still] — it’s worth sharing the handful of 15-second clips combined in the video below to give you an idea of the light show. The sound is horrible on the camera, although it was pristine at the show… and yes, the video may be nauseating, but, hey, you’ve been warned. Further below, the setlist and a few more videos from the end of the show of 1-2 minutes each.
The setlist (via Variety):
Reckoner/Optimistic/There There/15 Step/All I Need/Pyramid Song/Weird Fishes/Arpeggi/The Gloaming/Videotape/Talk Show Host/Faust Arp/Tell Me Why*/No Surprises/Jigsaw Falling Into Place/The Bends/The National Anthem/Nude/Bodysnatchers/Encore: House of Cards/Planet Telex/Go Slowly/Fake Plastic Trees/True Love Waits Intro/Everything In Its Right Place** Encore 2: Cymbal Rush/Karma Police/Idioteque
* = Neil Young cover featuring Jonny Greenwood and Thom Yorke on acoustic guitars
** = Thom sings two minutes of “True Love Waits” on a sustained dark organ before launching into “Everything In Its Right Place”
Great show and great overall experienced at a packed-out Bowl. And for the first time I can remember — including the Flaming Lips show in which the audience was repeatedly urged to stand and be rowdy by Wayne Coyne — nearly EVERYBODY was standing for almost the entire duration of the 2+ hour set. Even during the slow songs.
And In Rainbows is chock full of great songs. I never realized it as much as last night — hearing live the songs that I’d only haphazardly sampled on .mp3 — but IR is more than a legitimate Radiohead record and live, it really stands out as the band’s coming full circle from young, spunky rock band, to Amnesiac ambience and back to a lush, expansive, and dynamic rock sound. But still, the occasional song which sounds like it can only end with Thom Yorke in a mental ward or at least upping his meds. But at the end of the show — Yorke really got his freak on — dancing manically in red leather pants at center stage… it could have been the Stones or U2, but it was much better than that. It was Radiohead.