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Sydney Morning Herald reviews Sydney shows

The Sydney Morning Herald have a review online of Radiohead’s Sydney shows from the past weekend: “They haven’t lost the ability to pin you to your seat in the step-up of There There (it didn’t get louder but bigger – like a rush of blood to the head) or the Nirvana-like thrashing change in My Iron Lung. And there’s nothing quite like the innards-gripping synth bass in Climbing Up the Walls, or the bordering-on-manic guitar solo at the climax of Go to Sleep.”

Radiohead, Entertainment Centre
By Bernard Zuel
April 26, 2004

Entertainment Centre, April 23

Noel Gallagher, who for a few minutes in the ’90s mattered to a lot of people, once derided Radiohead for being fit only for moping and whining, and generally not the kind of lads with whom he would want to sink a pint/do a line/pillage a village.

We’ll get to that in a second. But an equally egregious comment from the Mancunian intellect was that no one had ever bought a record because of a bass part, implying bass players were about as vital as tits on a bull.

Gallagher should apologise to Radiohead’s Colin Greenwood. And we should thank, if not bow down before, Mr Greenwood ourselves.

Greenwood lacks the mad scientist flair of his guitarist/machine-playing brother, Jonny, who creates the most incredible sounds from a corner of the stage that could be a Dr Who set: stacks of ancient wood-and-wires equipment that look like it’s held together with sticky tape and gum. He doesn’t have the tall good looks of guitarist Ed O’Brien or the intense presence of singer Thom Yorke. Often half-turned from the audience, he stands at the back of the stage beside the equally attention-shunning – though always smartly dressed – drummer, Gentleman Phil Selway. You could ignore him completely if you chose but Colin Greenwood is the centrepiece, the fulcrum of Radiohead live.

Whereas the change Radiohead effected after OK Computer was generally seen as ditching guitars and dramatics in favour of twitching electronics and angularity, on stage it is clear that those are superficial assumptions. As we see them now, Radiohead haven’t sacrificed an ounce of power.

They haven’t lost the ability to pin you to your seat in the step-up of There There (it didn’t get louder but bigger – like a rush of blood to the head) or the Nirvana-like thrashing change in My Iron Lung. And there’s nothing quite like the innards-gripping synth bass in Climbing Up the Walls, or the bordering-on-manic guitar solo at the climax of Go to Sleep.

Nor have they forgotten how to be delicate. How to Disappear Completely was suffused with quite lovely drift; Exit Music ebbed and flowed, rose and then fell back; and in You and Whose Army, Yorke, crouched over the piano, his leering face caught up close in the camera, turned his voice into something like Wormtongue of The Lord of the Rings: a slinking, menacing creature hiding evil in an unprepossessing package.

No, the biggest change is in becoming a band where rhythm can infect everything. Where scarifying peaks of melodies or jagged incursions by guitar, synths or sampled radio sounds spring from the pushing, pulsing and then downright demanding-your-attention bass lines.

The National Anthem fed on its simple but direct drum loop and twisted itself into something approaching a trance track (but one with brains); when Sit Down Stand Up exploded with frantic programmed beats and the spat- out repetition of “the raindrops, the raindrops”, it was like an electric charge rippling through you; and Idioteque’s vicious thump of a drum sample conjured by Jonny Greenwood pushed buttons and punched lights out simultaneously.

Back that with a real grasp of when and how to deploy force and at times this becomes dance music for people who would no more dance than shave their eyebrows. It becomes music that sends an animated and obviously happy Yorke into jigs and whirling spasms.

While Friday’s show turned on rhythm and provided a complete physical and cerebral experience, Saturday’s show, with a restructured set list, offered a more emotionally charged atmosphere reminiscent of their 1998 shows. It wasn’t better or worse, just different, and proof that this is a great band capable of anything and everything and putting it all there before us. They’re not glum or whining; they’re exhilarating and compulsive and astonishingly good.

Radiohead’s final concert, in Melbourne tomorrow, will be broadcast live on Triple J.

This story was found at: smh.com.au

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