Live: Radiohead Works Through The Glitches At The Prudential Center


Radiohead w/ Caribou
Prudential Center
Friday, June 1

Better than: Spazzing out (ahem, dancing) in a warehouse all by your lonesome.

Any inclination of Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke being, as he put it, “sick as a dog” was not obvious until the band screwed up “Idioteque” and Yorke walked off with a frustrated “oh fuck it.” Apparently the song had been a bit of a mess the night before, during Radiohead’s first of two shows at Newark’s Prudential Center. When he emerged for the first of two encores, Yorke explained that sometimes that happens, and if you consider that Radiohead now performs live with two drummers, you can understand how the arrangement of “Idioteque” could become more complicated in concert. But it was actually Johnny Greenwood, the mastermind behind the intricate electronic track from Kid A, who was slightly off.

Several minutes later, however, Yorke made his own flub. He forgot a few words to “Paranoid Android,” the only song Radiohead played from its beloved OK Computer, coincidentally right around the lyric “you don’t remember.” He apologized, said he’d had a long day, and moved on. From where I sat, amidst other music writers and superfans alike, the show was going better than Thursday’s had. If Friday’s show is Yorke in an ill state, then I give him major props for his energy. His more recent rave-kid persona was out in full force, and he busted out his Running-Man-meets-Davy-Jones-shuffle dance moves on numerous occasions.

More than ever before, Radiohead concerts are more suited for fans of what’s called IDM (intelligent dance music, not that people actually use that term) rather than those who like the sort of rock music Thom and the boys used to make. Even if you’re not a big fan of Radiohead’s latest, 2011’s The King of Limbs (and the even newer songs like “Supercollider” and “Identikit”), it’s kind of an awe-inspiring thing to see a band this experimental and far-gone from its origins filling up a hockey arena twice in one week.

Radiohead last played the New York area at Roseland Ballroom in September 2011. Tickets to the shows, announced just nine days in advance. sold out instantaneously, the line to get in wrapped around six blocks, blah blah—the usual. The band could have played just about anything and fans would have simultaneously gone apeshit and tsk-tsked the lack of old songs on the set list. Radiohead made the show as much about The King of Limbs as 2007’s In Rainbows, an album that diehards generally are quick to declare their love for. At the Roseland shows, there was flow to the setlist, a balance between “rock” songs and “dance” songs that the band didn’t exactly strike at Friday’s Prudential concert.

However, people did seem quite pleased with the setlist’s inclusion of “Go to Sleep,” off Hail to the Thief, as well as “How to Disappear Completely.” Additionally, Radiohead has added the intro to R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” to “Everything in its Right Place”—this also happened at the Roseland shows, although some figured it was simply a nod to R.E.M.’s disbanding earlier that year. That song closed out the set; reminding fans of the time when Radiohead used to be the sort of band whose R.E.M. influence was semi-apparent was a nice way to end things.

Critical bias: Thom Yorke behind the piano will always be my favorite version of Thom Yorke.

Overheard: “Do you think Thom Yorke would be the same dude without his fucked-up eye?”—drunk guy behind me, to his drunk-ish friend

Random notebook dump: Why do Radiohead insist on not releasing its best songs on studio records? Both “True Love Waits” and “The Daily Mail” gave the entire arena chills on Friday.