It's been more than three years since Radiohead gigged in the NYC area, and considering the long absence (not to mention their status as greatest living rock band, man), they could have easily sold out multiple nights at Madison Square Garden in minutes. But the Garden is under construction (and the Barclays Center isn't done!), so the band instantly sold out the laughably small Roseland Ballroom instead. Demand was high, with scumbags scalping tickets for as high as $600, and the line to get in last night wrapped all the way around the block and back to the entrance, because—in a partially successful attempt to limit scalping—all tickets were will-call, with the ticket buyer escorted into the venue immediately.
Some fans waited over 30 hours to be riding the rail at 10:15 p.m., when their precious Radiohead finally took the stage for an almost two hour show. The set list tilted heavily toward new material from their most recent release, King of Limbs, and with the notable exceptions of "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" and "Subterranean Homesick Alien," the band didn't dip into their rich back catalog (unless of course you nerd-count "Nude," which has been around for ages but wasn't properly released as a studio track until In Rainbows). The evening, like their most recent album, was more "songs to melt into" than songs to pump your fist to.
If you caught their recent TV appearances, you're probably getting used to seeing double when looking at Radiohead, and last night drummer Clive Deamer once again joined the fun. Because... two bald drummers are better than one? The effect varied; at times Deamer took the lead from regular drummer Phil Selway, propelling the rhythm section forward with a volatility that's just not Selway's style. In other songs he added an almost imperceptible layer of subtle percussion. The two chaps do complement each other nicely (and Selway doesn't seem to have any ego about it) but the addition of Deamer doesn't change the band's sound in any radical way.
Frontman Thom Yorke was in typically fine spirits last night (can we finally retire the OK Computer-era canard that Yorke's just a gloomy, self-serious wanker?), dancing his serpentine spastic groove dance, and making often indecipherable banter between songs (after "The Daily Mail," and before "Bodysnatchers": "Anyone see that film Inside Job? They're still here. Still living in massive penthouses." After "Bodysnatchers," before "Reckoner": "Okay, that's enough anger.") It's difficult to write about a band as extraordinary as Radiohead without sounding pretentious, but permit us this: One of the great joys in this short life is watching Thom Yorke dance with maracas after he melts your cynical heart with his devastating Munch's "Scream" falsetto, putting indelible voice to our dire, anxious era. Self-referencing his dancing in the video for "Lotus Flower", Yorke quipped, "That’s the video when I officially became an embarrassing dad. And I’m proud of it." Oh Thom, don't ever change.
So Radiohead plays again tonight. If you don't have a ticket, all is not lost—one woman showed up outside Roseland last night with just a clever sign and scored a ticket for face value. Nothing's impossible if you're willing to sacrifice a little dignity, and Radiohead's one of the few band that's worth it. If you have any extras (tickets or dignity), let us know in the comments! Here's the set list, via Brooklyn Vegan, who also has more Radioporn for you:
Little By Little
Feral (Live concert debut)
Subterranean Homesick Alien (First performance since 2003)
All I Need
Everything In Its Right Place (with "The One I Love" intro)
Codex (Live concert debut)
The Daily Mail
Give Up The Ghost
The National Anthem
Morning Mr Magpie
Street Spirit (Fade Out)