Friday 10 October 2008

Radiohead Oct 5th @ Saitama Super Arena

I happened to have a ticket to Radiohead's show on Sunday but wasn't sure whether to go or sell the ticket. I had to think; do I really like Radiohead?
I remembered buying the Creep single on cassette when I was in high school and then copying Pablo Honey from the library. My mum is an aerobics instructor and used Creep in her classes! I had a look around and realised I had all of Radiohead's albums except that Thief one in some form or another. Was I a fan but didn't know it? Or was I denying it because I felt too indie to like a band that was so immensely popular? I decided that while I wasn't a huge fan, I did like them enough to go along to the concert.

Although I've been to countless gigs in my life, this, excluding festivals, was by far the biggest one I have been to. Saitama Super Arena was super enormous and from my seat the band was super far away and super small. Unfortunately, the big screen beside the stage wasn't utilised although there were some nicely directed live images of the band projected on screens behind them.

Before Radiohead, Thom's buddies Modeselktor came on to play an extremely short set which most people ignored. Sitting in seats watching DJs play 10kms away = strange. The Björk remix was pretty cool.

A 30 minute break before Radiohead came on allowed me to swill some beer from paper cups and try to join in the buzz of excitement passing throughout the crowd. Most of the audience jumped to their feet and cheered, signaling that the band had appeared on stage. By the time I stood up and caught a glimpse of them, they had already launched into 15 Steps from their latest album. After straining my eyes and regretting not bringing along those binoculars my mum had sent me for my birthday, I saw that the band were all wearing black clothes except Thom's bright red pants. Without much speaking except for arigatou, 15 Steps was followed by Airbag, Just and There There.

On one side of me were a bunch of very enthusiastic people from Hong Kong and on the other side were a couple who remained seated and motionless as if they were at the cinema. I thought about getting them some popcorn.

I had expected some big light show and pyrotechnics and all that, but there were no explosions and the light show was confined to the stage. Placed around the band were giant beams like organ pipes showing coloured lights. During the song Everything In It's Right Place, the word “everything” could be seen moving across the beams. For Idioteque, definitely one of the highlights, there were broken white bits of light like a crazy computer game. I tried in vain to take photos with my mobile phone as I hadn't brought my camera, thinking it might have gotten confiscated, but it turned out that cameras were okay. Not that any good shots could have been taken from so far away anyway. Idioteque was surprisingly followed up with Fake Plastic Trees. Another surprise they had played earlier was Myxomatosis. It seemed no way near being loud enough for the impact that seemed necessary for songs like the next one, Bodysnatchers. My ears weren't even ringing after the show.

A piano was wheeled in and out for some songs like All I Need, another highlight. In fact, a lot of the songs I enjoyed hearing the most were from In Rainbows. The guy next to me made a good point that they play their new songs with passion and meaning making their obligatory oldies sometimes sound a bit tired. They didn't play Karma Police or Creep, songs I regularly destroy at karaoke, but did play some hits like My Iron Lung and Paranoid Android.

Everything went so amazingly smoothly. The songs were carefully ordered to control audience tension and balance slow with fast, old with new, quiet with loud. I think there were two encores, though I couldn't tell if they were encores or if the band was just taking a break. Anyway the second encore was Go Slowly, My Iron Lung and How To Disappear.

In quite a buzz after the show as the thousands of fans streamed out, I found that I had quite enjoyed myself and was glad I had decided to go.

By the way, I don't have as amazing a memory as it seems; I found the set list here.

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Blogger liza said...

I'm glad you ended up enjoying yourself! Seems like our views on Radiohead are similar... I have everything they've put out but I definitely don't think they're the #1 greatest most revolutionary band of all time, like some people seem to think. I did enjoy the latest album a lot more than I thought I would, though. I figured the show(s!) here would be entirely too big so I didn't go... will stick to Radiohead karaoke for now!

7:05 pm, October 10, 2008  

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