01. cinnamon girl [not broadcast]
02. my iron lung [not broadcast]
03. national anthem
04. morning bell
06. packt like sardines in a crushd tin box
07. no surprises
08. dollars and cents
09. life in a glass house
10. exit music
11. i might be wrong
12. street spirit
13. paranoid android
15. everything in it's right place
16. pyramid song [not broadcast]
17. talk show host [not broadcast]
18. you and whose army [not broadcast]
19. how to disappear [not broadcast]
20. knives out [not broadcast]
21. the bends [not broadcast]
Humprey Lyttelton played the trumpet on 'Life in a glass house'. It
was also the first live performance of this song.
Later . . . with Jools Holland
7:40pm to 12:15am, Saturday, 9-06-01
(This is a half-post, re: mostly observational (not emotional)
elements of before and after the parts of the evening which were broadcast
on television. Ill add more about the part that was broadcast
tomorrow, with other tidbits. All quotes are my best remembrance, and
probably semantically incorrect, though I think Ive got the spirit
of things down pretty well. Sorry for the length, but hopefully if youre
bothering to read it itll be interesting to you. Please, no pointless
bashing about the lengthI was excited, and you would be too.)
I got my notification of tickets in the post yesterday morning, having
received no phone call, but having had an illogical feeling of relaxed
certainty that I would be going to the performance. I spent yesterday
trying to find someone to go with me (which, you would imagine, would
not have been difficultbut I either couldnt contact the
people I wanted to come, or those people had prior engagements) and
ended up taking a flatmate, a very casual fan of the band.
After the day spent meandering around a rarely sunny London (and eating
at the amazing tai restaurant on Greek street back from
Foyles), we headed west down the Piccadilly to Hammersmith and up to
shepherds bush. We wound our way around the perimeter of the BBC complex
to the general public main entrance. After only 40
minutes in queue (we arrived at about 7:40, I think,) the Beeb types
started letting us in. Showed them the letter, identification, got two
nice big shiny black tickets. We were apparently the 24th and 25th people
in, as they put numbered stickers onto our tickets as we made our way
into the foyer lounge where free Becks and Smirnoff ice
were being served (of which I think I was the only person present not
partaking). The lp was played over the pa as the fashionably late
looks-set and connected yuppies showed up to crowd into and hobnob with
pink-haired alternative, man kids with huge rave trousers,
a man with an astounding mullet, some hipster punk kids, and various
normal 20- to 40-somethings. Quite a mixed bag, which is,
I think, a good thing (or, so I choose to believe).
At about 9:45pm, the pa began calling for us to head for the studio.
It called for tickets stickered numbers 1-50, please which
included me, though I was on the wrong side of the lobby because within
literally 10 seconds, they continued ok, now 51-100, and
so on, at the same silly pace, so that by the time I could get to the
proper exit, I was behind what was surely 100 people. We made our way
like lemmings through the fortress o Beeb, finally reaching studio
6. Somehow when my flatmate and I made it into the studio, though,
we found the (very small) floor still bizarrely sparsely populated.
Perhaps they figured out some means of allowing those whod shown
up early to get their rightful places, I dont know for sure. In
any case, what resulted was that I found my self dead center stage,
behind 2 mercifully small rows of people, about 9 feet from Thoms
mic. After Boo the house manager prepped the audience on
the course the evening was to take, Jools came out and did a bit, mainly
parodying the actual prep-speech. He was likeably funny.
Then, as scheduled, some 15 minutes before showtime, Radiohead
came onstage. They were collectively smiling, excited, friendly, maybe
slightly nervous (though they hardly showed it). Thom, if you dont
know, is a very small bloke and (though I know it is sizeist of me,)
comes across as very cute and lovable in person. Ed, as usual, looked
like a bloody brad pitt movie star, and Jonny looked cool as ever, hair
wagging faithfully about his eyes. Colins hair has become quite
shaggy and he looks like a lost member of the kinks circa mid 60s
(and, as you may have seen on the broadcast, is also lovably cute in
the way he merely rocks from one foot to the other almost like a kid
pretending to marchIve never seen them close enough to notice
these sorts of things). Philis Phil, the only member fairly clearly
not hanging on desperately to the ability to look young and oh-so-hip
(though the others pull it off awfully well fore blokes in their 30sjust
joking, older readers).
At this juncture, the broadcast had not begunat this point, it
was for the ~450 people in the studio. Thom said hello, the band big
smiles all around, and said "now were gonna mess up an old
song," the band then launching into a truly rockin
rendition of Neil Youngs "Cinnamon Girl" from the same
album that Ida and Low have drawn successful covers. I wouldnt
have guessed the song would be a good fit, but the performance was tight,
raucous, vibrantand very fun. (So for all the people who think
these blokes take themselves too seriouslyhardly so, hardly at
all. Their sheer enjoyment of making music is instantly clear in their
faces, their body language, their words, and, obviously, their performance.)
With a few laughs, they went into a blazing, rejuvenated "My Iron
The band left the stage, hovering just in the wings, and ten minutes
passed. In the studio, there was a big crane and camera rig, and the
producers wanted to begin the show with Jools sitting slightly right
of center stage on the lip of the 2-foot high stage, this crane thing
lifting from 6 feet high to 15 after hed done his thing, revealing
a pre positioned Radiohead. Well, wouldnt you know,
amidst a sea of small people, the crew needed to put the camera right
where my head was, the top of which reaches 62" off the ground.
Some very friendly crew asked me to move left and for the bit of the
crowd there to "part like the sea for Moses" so that the crane
could have an unobstructed view of Jools.
That accomplished, Jools took his place. The band followed, clearly
ready to go, accompanied by a jazz brass sextet. Cameras commenced rolling,
a count down was heard, and then Jools started, "Its Friday
night . . . Its not Friday night at all, is it?". You saw
all of that, though. The funny part here was that when he said "whose
albums like these rocket up the charts" Thom, crouched behind him,
said quietly, ". . . and back down again," prompting laughter
from the audience which may have been a bit confusing to those at home.
The crane goes up, safely over my head, and . . . (you know this bit,
mostly, so here I skip an hour.)
Wed been told at the beginning by "Boo" that after the
broadcast hour, the band would come back and play for another 30 minutes
un-broadcast for the house. After an absolutely brilliant performance
of "Everything In Its Right Place" (the last minute or two
of which you may not have seen at home) and a short break, the band
came back on stage, still visibly enjoying the moment, still primed,
but clearly more relaxed.
The old piano (which Jools introduced at an earlier point as "Albert"
when the mix crew needed an applause test) was moved downstage, and
Colin readied the upright. Thom wobbled his way to the bench, said,
"now were going to attempt a rendition of pyramid song".
The performance was sparse, haunting, and vigourously fragile. Thom
scuttled forward and said, "This [meaning the encore, I am supposing]
is for Radio 1, apparently". After a pause of deft comic timing,
he added, with his best devilishly charming politicians smile,
"but mostly, its for * you *". The old black apple-stickered
guitar was brought out and involved in an extra-fuzzed, extra paranoid,
completely spot on "Talk-show Host". The freak-out
section was shorter than usual, but was far more menacing and intense.
The audience recognized the song and clapped within the first couple
tell-tale notes, which to me signaled a fairly aware and interested
Albert was brought back forward, and Thom said, "this is a song
that is supposedly about Tony Blair. Well, its not. Its
about any leader with an overwhelming desire for power. Theres
got to be something wrong in their heads. Its especially sad when
clearly the government isnt even really running things,"
to which he added meekly, "thats what I think, anyway".
The audience teased him with happy-clappy church congregation responses;
Thom smiled a childish grin, cupped his hands around the mic (the high-tech
secret to how they got that 1930s radio microphone sound)
and started "You and Whose Army". It was a deft performance,
which I felt had more energy and cheek than the recorded version.
Then familiar eerie sustained noise emanated from the Jonnys fingertip
and his Eno toy analogue synth"Jonnys got to tune up
his Strange Machine," said Thom. This joking lead into a staggeringly
beautiful "How to Disappear" (suddenly less sad given that
the show Id been witnessing was a clear sign that the period which
inspired the songs alienation was healed). Like "You and
Whose Army," I felt this song benefited from greater intensity
(if sacrificing ethereal fragility) than on record.
Then: "This song is dedicated tonight to all those journalists
who heard Kid A one time and said eh, theyve lost it".
Knives Out, very out, a buoyant performance, with an astute balance
between sonic catchiness and lyrically ironical wasteland-scenario psychobabble.
Somewhere in this third set was a blazing and playful "The Bends,"
which was dedicated to S-club-7, "found off the streets,"
at the ironical behest of an audience member. The dedication was followed
by a spontaneous and truly hilarious skit of sorts involving at least
Ed and Thom about "smoking the weeeeed," performed in cartoon-voice
whispers accompanied by pantomime "smoking the weeeed" by
the boys. It may have been juvenile, but at least it shows how much
fun this group of friends, not just bandmates, is having right now.
Unfortunately, Im not really certain where "The Bends"
falls in the setit might have been in the broadcast set, it mightve
closed the last set. Someone who was therehelp me out, please.
When it was all done Thom collected the CD that had been thrown to him
earlier, signed a couple of things. I walked forward, handed him a copy
of my records that I hadnt already given Phil in Oxford, said
"thanks," took his smile, smiled back. Then the band walked
out, and many of the audience stood around basically stunned for a couple
of minutes, and then found our way out of the studio and through the
labyrinth and stood on the landing of the foyer. Id
met some really nice people during the show, and we stood about and
chatted for a bit. A BBC-type finally came to us and asked, "Are
you audience members? ["Yes."] Well, are you staying? Are
you leaving?" God bless English cheekiness. With that, we headed
out the heavily guarded gates and made our way to the N207, to Marble
Arch, and from there home to Oxford (during the journey to which I wrote
this account), and to this computer to type it all out.
I doubt pretty seriously that any audience recordings were made of the
non-broadcast sets, as we were all put through metal detectors and our
bags x-rayed as though we were about to launch in a jet across the ocean.
Apparently, though, at least the second set will be broadcast on Radio
1, so keep ears (and high-quality recording devices to make me mp3s
with hehe) at the ready.
General highlights of the evening:
--The fact that there * was * an evening.
--The dead-center-stage, 9-feet-away, unobstructed view of everyone
and everything on the stage, combined with the deft work of the crew
to produce a great looking and sounding performance.
--The wonderful reception lyttleton et al received by the rock
--"Cinnamon Girl," "Lucky," "Paranoid Android,"
"Exit Music," "Dollars + Cents," "Everything
in its Right Place (!!)," "Morning Bell," "Talk-show
Host," "How to Disappear," "Street Spirit,"
"No Alarms," "Life in a Glass House". Best single
song, "Everything in its Right Place".
--The bands total exuberance, their intensity (and its consistency,
on and off television alike,) and their obvious revitalization.
Having been to this performance will make it even more difficult to
enjoy huge rock concert atmospheres with their contingent
distance, detachment, impersonality, and clueless moshers and crowdsurfers
who couldnt give a fuck about the music ("what music?").
Obviously, though, after seven years of intense personal enjoyment of
this bands varied and consistently engaging music-making, it was
absolutely wonderful to finally have that brilliance and love matched
live, in person, off record.