After having their two scheduled gigs moved from Manchester Arena to Lancashire County Cricket Club after the Manchester attack, Radiohead were able to put both their gigs on one night, and sell even more tickets. Unfortunately for the fans, the LCCC is a much lesser venue – it’s huge, it’s open topped (bearing in mind the curfew is at half 10 and it is still light at that time), and if you’re lucky or savvy enough not to be stuck near the back, it’s also round – so you don’t get a great view from the sides either. Not to mention, the drinks are extremely overpriced (£5 for a 330ml bottle of Heineken is pushing it!) and they even managed to fuck up enough to run out of beer half way through.
With that aside, Radiohead were awesome. The grey British weather even suited Radiohead’s moody music probably better than any other setting would. But despite making such serious and sombre music, Radiohead demonstrated that it is indeed danceable – and mosh-able. Crowds of all ages came together to enjoy the band, whether it was getting down, embracing a loved one or just standing to appreciate with a smile.
OK Computer and In Rainbows dominated the setlist, though they played at least 2 from every album (except Pablo Honey). Rockier classics from The Bends and Hail to the Thief – ‘There There’, ‘The Bends’, ‘Fake Plastic Trees’ – were left until closer to the end, much to the pleasure of fans everywhere balling the lyrics out. ‘Lotus Flower’, ‘Idioteque’ and the bombastic ‘Paranoid Android’ were three more highlights. The harmonies in Radiohead’s music made for much satisfying crowd-singing – the audience sang back vocal harmonies and even instrumental passages from the songs in chorus, as if by nature. ‘Bring down the government, they don’t, they don’t speak for us’ got a huge cheer. ‘No Surprises’ was also followed by a spontaneous chant of ‘Oh, Jeremy Corbyn’, playfully responded to by Yorke or Greenwood on stage momentarily fingering the riff of The White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’ (the song the chant is set to).
The screens weren’t always on for some reason, sometimes they changed to simply showing swirly effects a la Windows Media Player, and sometimes they didn’t quite show much at all. For Paranoid Android, the screens were suddenly stepped up to some sort of psychedelic fractal patterns – which were a little out of place. Other times though they provided a 3-way split screen selection of images insightful to those who couldn’t see the stage – like the detailed movements of Greenwood’s hands on a synth or cello. This was great because it allowed us to see Yorke and Greenwood’s profiency at such a number of instruments. For almost every other song Greenwood had wheeled in a different set of apparatus – buzzing electronics, some kind of drums, a cello; likewise Yorke played guitar, he played piano, he played the maracas, and he played a keyboard-synth type thing.
Another thing that strikes you is that Yorke’s singing is just as beautiful when performed live as it is on record. He didn’t speak much (unsurprisingly; he claims he ‘isn’t good’ at these things), and a little more interaction with the crowd could have been nice. But he seemed to be enjoying himself and nevertheless created a compelling stage presence, complete with oddball dancing.
The band also mixed it up by adding a few new sections to songs, and mixing up the timbre from the record – Idioteque for example, was full of bleepy-bloops and featured a wild breaky finale. They finished with Karma Police at quarter past 10 and despite 15 minutes until curfew and the crowd continuing to sing ‘for a minute there, I lost myself’ determinedly for a good 5, the band didn’t re-emerge, leaving everyone feeling a little bit short-changed but nonetheless spiritually satisfied.