Radiohead | 03.09.12

Yorke & co. left everyone with a feeling of euphoria, seemingly floating feet above the floor.


 Scottrade Center | St. Louis MO

Photos: Kelly Glueck

Many very large music artists come through the Scottrade Center every year. As far as commercial success goes, Radiohead stands far below the likes of Nickelback, Lady Gaga, Foo Fighters, and Katy Perry. However only one of those acts completely sold out the large arena. Radiohead. Denying all commercial strategies and proper album releasing etiquette, even after 2011’s less-than-popular King of Limbs, the band still managed to sell out the show months in advance, forcing the venue to open up additional seats to the side of the stage.

Though a great many in the crowd were casual fans who heard the show was one not to miss, the band remained as hardcore-fan-oriented as ever, breaking out rarely performed tracks such as “The Amazing Sounds of Orgy,“ as well as a new song, “Identikit,” which lead singer Thom Yorke admitted the band had “no idea what it means, or what it’s about.” 

Let’s get one thing straight: A large part of the band’s popularity stems from the fact that there is literally nothing to compare them to. When “Myxomatosis” comes blaring from the speakers and Yorke dances like everyone in the crowd (who could create a flannel wardrobe for Paul Bunyan), there is simply nothing that compares.

One thing that stands out the most on this tour is the friendliness that Yorke conveys to the crowd. Outside of a brief acknowledgement that the venue smelled like fair foods, and a few thanks for last time the quartet was at Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre, the band seemed to be very business-as-usual. This appearance, however, featured a great many interesting quips, such as when Yorke addressed those “down in the back and up with the gods”  before “Kid A,” and un-insightful peeks into songs: “This next one is our love song, I guess…kinda,” before “Reckoner.”

One of the oddest moments of the year surely came in the form of the largest sing-along of the night. “Karma Police” started off simply enough—until the sold-out crowd sang one line and Yorke skipped on to another. If it seemed odd to anyone in attendance, it became even odder when he admitted it later in the song by replacing the lyrics with, “This is what you get when you forget the words.” The band suddenly seemed oddly human, which only served to make it an even more endearing night.

“King of Limbs” did come across fairly well and was received like every other song, with overwhelmingly large approval. From set opener “Bloom” to “Feral,” which came over midway through the set, the new tracks hit as much more dance friendly and, sometimes, as in the case of “Separator,” almost ethereal and sedated. Jonny Greenwood spent most of the night creating a soundtrack, like he has for many a film, and Yorke and the rest of the band filled that soundtrack with a large number of instruments, and on “Give up the Ghost,” Greenwood turned one live Yorke into a digital army.  

The largest crowd reaction of the night, however, would come on arena-pleaser “Lucky.” Scottrade Center may have been the loudest it has ever been, from sold out Blues games to metal concerts. Fans raised their arms high into the air as the chorus of “pull me out of the air crash, pull me out of the lake” rang over them. Yorke & Co. more than obliged as superheroes and left everyone with a feeling of euphoria, seemingly floating feet above the floor. 

As the digital opus that is “Idioteque” washed over everyone in attendance, transcendence rolled off the stage. Despite the extremely large expectations held by everyone in attendance as they were walking in, the band once again met and exceeded any prior conceptions of what a Radiohead show should be. The only regrettable moments came in the lack of tracks off The Bends, which the band has done its best to include in the past—however, all new albums bring on changes which often push out the old, and no one is asking the band to stop producing new material anytime soon.

Openers from Oklahoma, Other Lives, may have been a relative unknown before the tour started, but an opening spot for Radiohead often translates to a quick rise in public consciousness. The band sometimes teased at a certain air of arena-friendly rock made popular in “Knights in White Satin” by the Moody Blues in the ’60s. The band created a vibe that could very well be the soundtrack to the Dustbowl of 2035. | Bruce Matlock

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