Radiohead / Beta
Morrison, CO. | Red Rocks Ampitheatre
| June 20, 2001 | Text: Dave Herrera
Ladies and Gentlemen, those Radiohead
kids can experiment all they want with that new fangled electronica
toy they recently discovered; however, last night's Red
Rocks show saw the resurgence of the Rock. Make no mistake,
Radiohead brought along their newfound bells and whistles,
they simply strategically interspersed them with a plentiful
amount of their predecessors. I can say with every degree
of certainty, you'll not see a better show this year. In this
recession prone economy, clocking in at just under two hours
with a twenty-two song setlist spanning the bulk of their
catatlog, you'll be hard pressed to find a better value. It's
worth every cent you'll fork overand then some.
On the second night of their first
American tour in over three years, the setting couldn't have
been more picturesque. If you've never seen a show at Red
Rocks, rent "U2: Live Under a Blood Red Sky" to
use as a reference. Red Rocks is an all natural amphitheatre
literally carved into the side of a mountain, by God himself.
Let me put it this way, it's a venue that artists plan entire
tours around. Suffice to say the experience was somewhat surreal,
with Radiohead providing the soundtrack for the evening.
The band took the stage at dusk with the
Denver city lights flickering in the distance. From the opening
notes of "National Anthem," it became quite apparent
on this night, Radiohead came to play. After all, they had
three years of catching up to do. The band meticulously worked
their way through a spirited rendition of what is arguably
one of Kid A's best songs. With the giant projector screen
positioned stage right, showing black and white, live motion
video and the alternating strobe lights ala MTV's the ten
spot, deja vu began to set in. Except this time, the world's
greatest band was in the flesh, not on the idiot box.
During the opening verses of "The Morning
Bell," guitarist Johnny Greenwood stood back with
one arm folded across his chest, while Thom Yorke exhibited
his musical prowess on a Rhodes keyboard. Greenwood's befittingly
stacato stabs during the chorus of an otherwise subdued track
contrasted Yorke's and guitarist Ed Obrien's harmonies
very nicely. Judging from the uproarious applause that greeted
the band as the song ended, the fans agreed, Radiohead was
back and better than ever.
Like storm clouds rolling in, the fog machine
made the first of many appearances over the course of the
evening. Just as the next song, "Lucky," began to
take shape, it became obvious what songs the crowd favored.
"Karma Police" began with Greenwood minding the
Rhodes and Yorke trading in his Telecaster for an acoustic.
It ended with Yorke repeating the lines, "I hope you
choke, I hope you choke," as a capacity crowd of roughly
10,000 sang along, word for word.
In a brief digression while introducing
"Exit Music," an unusually exuberant Yorke quipped,
"The clouds are interfering with my signals." For
dramatic effect, the song started with Yorke engulfed by a
lone spotlight, as he strummed his acoustic. As the other
instruments came in, one by one each member of the band was
illuminated. Then as if on cue, a series of strobes were lit
in sync with the apex of the song, until the lights dimmed
one by one, leaving Yorke again strumming his acoustic under
a lone spotlight.
"This is a song about car accidents"
Yorke mused coyly, as he introduced the first song of the
night from Amnesiac, "Packt Like Sardines
in a Crushed Tin Box." Ever since I'd first heard the
new record, I wondered how the new songs would translate live.
Surprisingly, the songs sounded even more emphatic. The brooding,
trance-like tones from the album's opening track sounded even
more menacing live with a dirty clavichord vibe. Yorke's eerie
fascination with car crashes showed up once again when he
introduced "Airbag," as a "Christmas song about
a car crash." The band turned in a performance that was
painstakingly exact to the original album cut.
During the rarely played "Permanent
Daylight," from the Iron Lung EP Yorke entertained the
crowd with Angus Young-esque rock kicks before the band effortlessly
sequed into a dirge-like version of "No Surprises"
complete with Greenwood adding ambient contours with the xylaphone.
Throughout the duration of "Dollars
and Cents" my attention was diverted to the screen at
stage right. For the first time during the course of the evening
the black and white images were replaced with color ones.
The camera angles were less prominent and the images were
given a soft focus ala a '70s stag film. When I focused back
to the stage, Yorke was gyrating like only he could, beating
a tambourine like it owed him money.
Next up was an absolutely amazing version
of "Fake Plastic Trees" that seamlessly commingled
with a stellar rendition of "I Might Be Wrong."
The interplay between O'Brien and Greenwood's guitar work
and Yorke's lucid falsetto, easily made it one of the stand
out tracks of the evening, an evening where every track seemed
to be a stand out track. Another of the stand out tracks of
the evening was "Pyramid Song" which again was given
a different treatment than what appeared on the album. A rather
sedate Colin Greenwood accompanied Yorke's piano playing with
The rest of the set was devoted to their
most innovative material. From the shifting dynamics and audio
schizophrenia of "Paranoid Android," to the digitized
vocals of "Everything In It's Right Place," expertly
replicated live, with the help of O'Brien and Greenwood manipulating
the samples of Yorke's vocals. Before finishing the set, Yorke
paced the stage like Ozzy, inciting the audience to clap on
With that, the band left the stage clapping,
as if to acknowledge their brilliant performance. When they
returned a short time later, they treated the crowd to some
rarely heard material from their back catalog, and a stoic
rendition of "You and Whose Army," complete with
Yorke on piano, and Colin Greenwood on cello.
Tasked with the dubious distinction of being
a music critic, there's very few shows that I go to of my
own volition. This was one of them. If this show was any indication
of things to come-trust me on this one-Radiohead is on the
verge of becoming bigger than U2 and almost as influential
as The Beatles.
1. National Anthem - Kid A
2. The Morning Bell - Kid A
3. Lucky - OK Computer
4. Karma Police - OK Computer
5. Exit Music (For A Film) - OK Computer
6. Packt Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box - Amnesiac
7. Airbag - OK Computer
8. Permanent Daylight - My Iron Lung E.P.
9. No Surprises - OK Computer
10. Dollars and Cents - Amnesiac
11. Fake Plastic Trees - The Bends
12. I Might Be Wrong - Kid A
13. Pyramid Song - Amnesiac
14. Paranoid Android - OK Computer
15. Idioteque - Kid A
16. Everything In It's Right Place - Kid A
17. Bones - The Bends
18. Street Spirit - The Bends
19. You and Whose Army - Amnesiac
20. How To Disappear Completely - Kid A
21. Talk Show Host - Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack
22. My Iron Lung - The Bends