Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Radiohead Light up Camden Concert, 8.12.08

Just days after headlining two dates at the All Points West festival in Jersey City, Radiohead continued their tour by playing one last New Jersey date Tuesday night at Camden's Susquehanna Bank Center. The venue was packed with fans who had started lining up hours before the show. By the time the band took the stage, the excitement could be felt everywhere, from the pit to the lawn.

Cheers resonated throughout the center as Radiohead took the stage and started the night with "15 Step," the opening track from their latest album, In Rainbows. Fans danced and sang as frontman Thom Yorke bopped around the stage — and the energy only escalated as the band pulled out a "triple-drum attack" for their next song, "There There." In fact, every song the band played was greeted by enthusiasm and even though the crowd got a little quieter during slower numbers like "All I Need" and "Videotape," many concertgoers either sang or mouthed along to nearly every lyric. An intensely colorful light show, accompanied by beautifully-shot live video footage on big screens, only enhanced the experience further.

The band performed In Rainbows in its entirety and even threw in "Go Slowly," a track from the album's bonus disc. But the band also went back to previous material from four of their previous albums, only excluding songs from their debut album and 2001's Amnesiac. Each song featured the textured layers that Radiohead are well known for and certain songs such as "The Gloaming," which features a punchy bassline when it's played live, took on a whole new sound. Meanwhile, Yorke's voice was in top form, conveying an assorted array of emotions. He hit the majority of his notes to the point of near perfection and it felt as though the entire crowd was holding its breath right before he hit one of his trademark falsettos during a performance of "Nude."

Even though they weren't particularly chatty, the band members were in high spirits throughout the night. When he wasn't at an instrument, Yorke did his trademark spasmodic dance moves for many of the songs, including the classic "Idioteque." In addition to referring to the piano as a "pianoforte" and introducing "Go Slowly" as a "slow song for a good reason," Yorke was smiling during most of the set and made it a point to thank the audience periodically. And despite the fact that they've been touring for nearly two decades, Yorke's fellow band members seemed thrilled by the size of the audience, grinning at each other and at concertgoers as the night wore on. At one point, guitarist Jonny Greenwood — who also played around with radios, keyboards and more during the show — just stood still, brushing his hair out of his eyes to stare at the crowd in front of him.

The band closed the night with two encores, which featured a total of eight songs. Guitarist Ed O'Brien and bassist Colin Greenwood seemed excited as they came back onstage, laughing and clapping along with the audience. Though the band decided to skip two of their biggest hits — "Karma Police" and "Paranoid Android" — they did play three songs from their second album The Bends during the encores, including the opening track, "Planet Telex," which hasn't been played much during this tour. Emotions seemed to run wild during songs like OK Computer's "Lucky," especially when Yorke sang the line, "It's going to be a glorious day."

Radiohead ended the night with Everything in Its Right Place from 2000's Kid A, with Yorke singing a couple of lines from R.E.M.'s "The One I Love" before launching into the song. As the song came to a close, each band member took turns going off stage. Yorke went first, grinning and waving at the crowd, and his bandmates slowly followed as they completed their portions of the song. By the end, a sample of Yorke's looped vocals resonated through the venue before the band's crew finally pulled the plug.

Even though the concert ultimately featured a total of 25 songs, the two hour set seemed to go by a lot faster than it really did. Personally, I feel this is the second best show I've ever attended — the only other concert to beat this one is the first Radiohead show I ever went to back in 2001. And judging by other fans' awed reactions by the time the night was over, it looks like Radiohead's longstanding reputation as one of the best live acts in the world is still very much well deserved.

Complete Setlist:
15 Step, There There, Morning Bell, All I Need, The National Anthem, Videotape, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, The Gloaming, Where I End and You Begin, Faust Arp, No Surprises, Jigsaw Falling Into Place, The Bends, Idioteque, Climbing Up the Walls, Nude, Bodysnatchers
Encore 1: House of Cards, Lucky, Go Slowly, Just, Street Spirit
Encore 2: Reckoner, Planet Telex, Everything in its Right Place

(You may also view this review here).