American Airlines Arena
Monday, February 27, 2012
Better Than: Doing whatever one does on Spotify, with Radiohead.
Leading up to Radiohead's kickoff concert for their first U.S. tour in four years, we explored a theory that Thom Yorke and company may be the last great mainstream rock band.
However, we also couldn't help wondering if Radiohead is still making music as relevant or exciting as that which made them an institution.
But last night's earnestly excited and giddy American Airlines Arena audience had less lofty matters on its mind.
We got the sense that many of the thousands at the arena were seeing their favorite band for the first time or maybe the 50th. Most stood at attention for the entirety of the set, cheering wildly, even for the songs to which nobody knew the lyrics.
The lighting design was futuristic and sleek with a number of small video screens that repositioned between songs.
Sometimes the visuals were abstract -- throbbing colors expressionistically linked to the music. Other times, the screens displayed the band in completely decentralized, every-angle arena-vision.
The set drew mostly from Radiohead's post-Kid A era with obligatory peppering of select singles from the back catalog.
It also featured a number of big debuts, including two new songs ("Identikit" and "Cut a Hole") and the live premiere of a song ("Meeting in the Aisle") dating back to the band's 1998 I Might Be Wrong EP. (See the complete setlist from last night's concert and check out video of Radiohead's new tracks.)
While not extraordinarily prolific, Yorke and company has a lot of material. And some fans we spoke with weren't entirely satisfied, two of whom felt that Radiohead's 2008 performance in West Palm Beach featured a stronger selection of the bands back catalog.
Nevertheless, the audience was more than patient through seven of eight King of Limbs songs. The only KOL fan favorite: "Lotus Flower," which got a distinctly louder response than anything else from the record, as did Thom Yorke's signature prancing.
Personal Bias: We don't love or hate Radiohead. Much like the Tool concert earlier this month, nobody at this show was a casual fan.
The Crowd: Respectable citizens and squares, a heavy smattering of rockers (indie and otherwise), some Dads groovin' like wavy gravy.
Overheard in the Crowd: Desperate requests and wild, almost belligerent praise.
Random Detail: Security wouldn't let us step outside with a cup of water.
-"The Daily Mail"
-"Morning Mr Magpie"
-"The National Anthem"
-"Meeting in the Aisle" (Live debut)
-"You and Whose Army?"
-"Cut a Hole" (Unreleased)
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-"Give Up the Ghost"