October 22, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 29  

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Radiohead rules

SkyDome, Toronto, ON
Oct. 15, 2003

If you've never seen Radiohead live, then you probably shouldn't talk about live music. You simply aren't qualified. It would be like a food critic who's never tasted food.

Radiohead is lauded by a large part of the media as being the best band in the world; last week they showed us why. Even in a venue as unfortunate as the SkyDome, Radiohead had the massive audience electrified. 18,000 people twitching sporadically to "Like Spinning Plates" is an unusual sight that probably only Radiohead is capable of causing.

Their two-hour set was comprised largely of tracks from Hail to the Thief, their current LP, along with a few songs from each of their last efforts (with the exception of Pablo Honey). The songs were accompanied by an impressive light show used with great effects throughout.

Highlights included "There There," with Colin and Johnny Greenwood's savagely beating huge tribal drums with long mallets, a blistering rendition of "My Iron Lung," the loud/soft transitions hugely emphasized and a haunting version of "Climbing Up The Walls." Johnny's brilliant guitar playing sounded like something from outer space, with unbelievably improvised solos in many of the songs. When they played the first few chords of "Karma Police" during the second encore, the crowd literally went wild, like animals rooting through the bush.

Many people are hung up on Radiohead's Bends/OK Computer era songs -they're catchy and easily digestible. But their Kid A/Amnesiac/Hail to the Thief tunes are like what the robot servant on The Jetsons must have listened to -they're on a completely different level than anything else. The new material might not be as easy to swallow, but to see it played live with the intensity and musicianship Radiohead possesses makes for a killer show.

-Bill Sura



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