Radiohead rock the Erwin Center (2012)
Photography by: Thom Fain
Radiohead have spent the better part of the last many years establishing themselves as the most progressive band in the world, and as they have done this, their fan base has swelled to the point where just about any major arena on the globe would fill with the kind of hypnotized, adoring music lovers that came out in droves last night at the Frank Erwin Center. The band played songs from several of their albums, and almost all of their most recent release.
Although The King of Limbs was released last year to divided fanfare, it’s hard to argue that it in some way departed from the band’s typical pioneering, we-can-do-it-best formulae that they’ve used since the late 90s. Playing it live with Portishead drummer Clive Dreamer really seems to bring the record alive, along with some of the percussive-heavy tracks from the older records – both helping those to a pair of legs they hadn’t before and giving Thom Yorke’s an excuse to dance around the stage wildly in the most groovy fashion.
Against a stunning visual backdrop of colorful neon lights and under giant floating television screens, the frontman fluidly breaks from playing his guitar & keys to jagged dances. Commanding the crowd like a zealot, the singer draws the audience in with his voice like few can do; whether just murmuring on electro-songs like “Myxomatosis” and the brand new “Identikit”, or hitting those signature elongated falsettos he’s best known for. And while he does that, it looks like he’s having a lot of fun – something we might not expect from the introspective Yorke, given his melancholic lyrics and obvious disgust with modern political discourse.
Although those themes were prevalent on this leg of the tour too, with him telling the crowd that the song “Daily Mail” was dedicated to our Republican nominees at one point, and then getting behind a piano with a Tibetan flag draped over it at another.
At one point the singer breaks to tell the audience about the band visiting Barton Springs and seeing people wearing “Keep Austin Weird” shirts which they really liked, pleasing the crowd and following it up with a dedication to them with “Weird Fishes / Arpeggi”, flanking himself with two guitarists and piling with its harmonies a chorus of awesome percussion.
From floor-to-ceiling the audience is on their feet all night long, transfixed and suspended and as the show draws to a close with the most aural experiences in guitar-heavy tracks “Bodysnatchers” and “Paranoid Android”, I realize that the Radiohead’s most amazing ability is how it strikes a chord of balance between several dichotomies – the show, as are their records, is both serious and playful – neither funny nor sad, both electronic and classical, minimalist and elaborate, frosty and fiery. And this, I suppose, has proven to be the biggest feat for Yorke and company.
02 Little By Little
03 Daily Mail
04 Morning Mr. Magpie
06 Sit Down, Stand Up
07 Kid A
08 The National Anthem
10 Weird Fishes / Arpeggi
13 Lotus Flower
14 There There
18 These Are My Twisted Words
20 Everything In Its Right Place
21 Give Up The Ghost
22 You And Whose Army?
23 Paranoid Android