Two nights ago Radiohead played brand new concert venue Ziggodome in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and I was there. It was my first time seeing Radiohead live. I’m just a tad too young (I was 12 when OK computer was released) and I remember MTV playing Karma Police, over and over and over and my not liking it all that much. It wasn’t until later, when I was in my early twenties that I really started to appreciate their music. Since they don’t tour that often anymore, I thought I would take my chance and get tickets this time. A friend arranged them and I was all the way up top somewhere in the back, but oh my: it was all different kinds of amazing.
Radiohead @ Ziggodome
This picture doesn’t just give you an idea of how far away I was, but also of the impressive stage and lightshow that came with the concert. I felt it really added something to the songs, playing in nicely with the music and really setting a mood. Each song had its own color scheme. The screens you see hanging down were positioned accordingly for each song and most of the time they showed close ups of the band members or how they played their instruments. My favorite ‘stage’ moment was during the song You and Whose army, when the small screens first depicted a bunch of close ups of Thom Yorke behind his piano, but gradually changed into a full close up of his face, scattered across the different screens, while pouring his heart into the song.
Caribou opened the show at 7.30 PM and they played quite a few songs that I knew. Sun and Odessa being the last two songs of their fairly short, yet enjoyable, set. Radiohead took the stage at 8.30 PM sharp and played for a little over 2 hours including not one, not two, but three encores. With 24 songs on the setlist and three encores you’d think that things might get boring, but Radiohead’s setlist was so varied that it held your attention from beginning to end.
Setlist: (taken from source)
03 15 Step
04 Kid A
06 The Gloaming
09 You and whose army?
11 Ful Stop
12 Lotus Flower
13 There There
14 Karma Police
16 Paranoid Android
17 Give Up The Ghost
19 Morning Mr Magpie
20 A Wolf At The Door (tour debut)
22 How to disappear completely
23 Everything In Its Right Place (with Unravel intro)
This being my first Radiohead concert, I have to say I’m impressed. I knew they were good, but they definitely outdo their reputation as a live band. There was a good variety of songs: old and new, guitar/ rock based and the more electronic/ break beat based. My favorites were the more guitar filled songs though, even though their electronic based songs were about as good.
Their strongest point most definitely is the sound. This concert was nothing other than a 2 hour trip through sound. Not music, sound. Where one moment you feel like rocking back and forth with your eyes closed and the next you are bouncing on your seat along with some great rhythms. Yorke’s voice was amazingly well (apart from some of the higher notes in Paranoid Android) and he showed a true amount of showmanship. He even did some dancing, which, I have to admit, was a bit scary at times.
A bit blurry, but oh well
Audience interaction was kept to a minimum though. The band focused on their songs and the few thank yous and half attempts at getting people to clap along, resulted in a meagre response. That did make for a very tight show. Everything went like clockwork, the instruments as well as the band, were adjusted just rightly so that you even hear the maracas during Lotus Flower. One especially memorable moment was when Yorke came out with just him and a guitar player for the first song of the first encore and sampled himself into oblivion.
My favorites of the night were 15 Step (of which I managed to catch part on video), the incredibly haunting You and Whose Army, How to Disappear Completely, the-actual-end-of-the-set-song Idioteque and of course the two most famous songs on this setlist: Karma Police and Paranoid Android. All of these songs worked amazingly well live. The band consisted not of five, but six members, as the drummer from Portishead sometimes joined the band on stage to add some more rhythm to the songs. The two guitar players often exchanged their instruments for synthesizers and the turning and clicking of buttons.
I would say that Radiohead is a true live band. To be honest, this concert did not make me want to whip out their albums and listen to the songs over and over again. I would be more than glad, however, to see them again live. Radiohead live is not just a concert. It’s an experience.
Watch two short videos I took below to see what I mean. (I took more video and pictures, but due to the distance between me and the stage, those didn’t come out)
Radiohead – 15 Step Live @ Ziggodome
Radiohead – You and Whose Army Live @ Ziggodome
Yes, I was that far away…