06 June 2012: Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Tracy is definitely a bigger Radiohead fan than me. I enjoy their music and Thom Yorke’s solo album well enough, but it doesn’t necessarily move me in the same earth-shaking sense it seems to affect others. I’m also fully aware of how a live performance can alter my perception of an artist and their music, so I’m usually game for concerts of artists I might not be 100% in love with. That was the scenario going into Radiohead’s Northeast Ohio King of Limbs tour stop, and for a group I’m not super into, it was a good show.
Despite not actually recognizing the songs they were playing and only understanding snippets of lyrics, I really dug the wall of sound. They played three sets – a 16-song main set and two encores. The four-song first encore consisting of “House of Cards”, “Myxomatosis”, Supercollider”, and “Reckoner” was by far my favorite set of the night.
The other standout song was the main set’s rendition of “There There” with its “just ’cause you feel it doesn’t mean it’s there” refrain. Already augmented by two full drum kits, for this song everyone in the band was working percussion to accompany Yorke’s guitar.
I didn’t really care for the second encore or the final song of the night (“Paranoid Android”), but loved the accompanying light and video show throughout the night. Along with a large continuous screen near the amphitheater ceiling at the front of the stage, there was a giant light panel at the back of the stage, and a dozen high-quality video panels suspended above.
These panels changed position throughout the show, song by song, displaying everything from band member close-ups to more artistic shots of microphones or Yorke’s trainers. At one point near the beginning of the show, the panels all moved into place to form a sort of mock ceiling over the band, almost looking like they were playing in a room. At other times they were all akimbo with electronic psychedelic designs. The panel’s lighting and imagery was probably my favorite aspect of the show.
A Radiohead tour is a big deal among both rock critics and the fervent fan base. Their shows are hyped as being mind-blowing events, but I guess you have to be a super fan to get that sort of experience out of their concerts.
When I listen to Radiohead’s recorded output, it often reminds me of Pink Floyd in its scope and sound, yet somehow always seems to fade into the background. Live, the band seemed energetic, passionate, and to be having a great time connecting with their fans. It made for a good time and a great night out with my wife, even if the earth didn’t move for me musically.
(All photos by Tracy Besenyodi.)