by Robert Kinsler
Talk about a one-two punch. On a magical night at Jobing.com Arena in Arizona, both Radiohead and Other Lives delivered performances as magical as they were memorable. What made the double-bill on March 15 even more special was the groundbreaking approach to music making that had the near-capacity crowd cheering unfamiliar material with the enthusiasm of a audience cheering greatest hits at a Bruce Springsteen or Sir Paul stop.
Even from our seats located a good distance from the stage, only a handful of nearby concertgoers sat during Radiohead’s 23-song, two-hour set. And most listened and cheered loudly for Other Lives during their 30-minute performance.
My only previous chance to see Radiohead came at an intimate benefit concert in Hollywood, California in January 2010, but that was very different from this show (which was the last stop on the first leg of the American tour). With a set list heavy on recent material (notably King of Limbs), Radiohead performed with equal parts precision and bona fide emotion. The stage itself was bathed in various colors of light while a highly-postioned LCD screen showed each of the band members; additional revolving/rotating screens suspended from above added visual intensity and range to the concert experience.
Across the night, the quintet (assisted on the tour by Portishead drummer Clive Deamer) unleashed epic art rockers such as “Weird Fishes” and “Airbag,” as well as haunting acoustic numbers (notably “Give Up the Ghost” which featured singer-guitarist Thom Yorke and guitarist-keyboardist Jonny Greenwood handling that as a duo) with an unnatural ability and authority.
Every fan likely had their favorite moments of the night. Various performances keep flashing through my mind as I write this, including the rocker “Little By Little,” piano-anchored “Pyramid Song” (with Greenwood playing his electric guitar with a violin bow), and equally-riveting “How to Disappear Completely” with Yorke’s distinctive voice and accompanying acoustic guitar approach growing to include the various textures and symphonic sounds provided by the rest of the band as the song built in power. And who could forget the striking sing-along finale of the night-ending “Paranoid Android,” which left me (and countless others) simply floored.
Radiohead also thrilled fans with one of their most recent songs, “Identikit.” Check out the video below taken at the Glendale, AZ show:
The night began with a wonderful performance from Oklahoma’s Other Lives. The band’s sound blended art rock, gypsy folk and world music in something best described as a mix of Dead Can Dance, The Decemberists, Wilco and DeVotchKa. Singer Jesse Tabish, cellist Jenny Hsu (who also provided some effective backup vocals) and the rest of the group will be on the bill with Radiohead at Coachella in April.
If you haven’t yet seen Radiohead or Other Lives yet, do yourself a favor (like I did) and catch them in concert.
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