Last night I saw finally saw Radiohead in concert. A long time coming, to say the least.
It’s been a decade since I started listening to the five lads from Oxford. It’s been almost a decade since they became my absolute favourite band. It’s been eight years since Kid A redefined the parameters of popular art rock. It’s been four years since my first attempt to see Radiohead in concert was foiled by a massive power outage that struck the entire eastern seaboard mere hours before the show. It’s been almost a year since they released In Rainbows, a record that stands tall alongside their best work.
I need to get all this out in the open, as I’m sure that some might feel the following statement is tainted by my rampant fanboyism. But I stand by it one hundred percent, and it’s an opinion shared by my colleague Travis, who has seen the band before and joined me in Montreal for the band’s outdoor show at Parc Jean Drapeau:
That may have been the greatest concert that I will ever see.
Oh I’m sure I’ll see some great bands in the remaining years I have on this earth, and they may even play better than Radiohead did last night. But concerts are all about intangibles, the elements that make the live experience far more than the sum of its parts. And I simply can’t forsee any concert coming together as spectacularly perfect as last night did.
What other concerts will I share with 35,000 other people packed like sardines into a venue like Parc Jean Drapeau?
What other concerts will unite the crowd in a battle against the elements, torrential rains and temperamental skies, with victory heralded by a gigantic rainbow canvassing the atmosphere?
What other concerts will, by happenstance, occur on the same evening as the closing ceremonies of the Loto-Quebec International Fireworks Competition, filling the night sky with colour for a good half of the set to accompany such iconic, anthemic songs as “Fake Plastic Trees” and “Idioteque”?
What other concerts will feature a band at the height of their abilities, touring behind one of the most beautiful, melodic albums of their career?
What other concerts will see a band get away with playing only five songs from their two most popular albums (OK Computer, The Bends) but making the most of every one of them?
What other concerts will traverse the sonic landscape from pop ballads to electro clash to soul to R&B, hinged on the back of what might be the most underrated rhythm section in modern music?
What other concerts will see a band close their first encore by reprising the outro to a song as timeless as “Karma Police,” letting the entire audience sing the coda at the top of their very lungs?
I may see concerts that match up well against this one. I may see concerts that even feature some of these same elements. But every everything in its right place? At the right time? With a band as worthwhile as Radiohead? Somehow, I doubt it.
An evening for the ages, and one that will stay with me for a long, long time.
More photos plus the setlist after the break…
1. 15 Step
2. There There
3. Morning Bell
4. All I Need
5. My Iron Lung
7. Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
8. The Gloaming
9. The National Anthem
10. Fake Plastic Trees
12. Like Spinning Plates
13. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
18. Faust Arp
20. Paranoid Android
21. Bangers and Mash
22. Karma Police
23. House of Cards
24. You and Whose Army?
25. Everything in its Right Place
Edit: Check out Rocanlouder’s YouTube channel for a whole slew of videos from the show (plus the Killers show on Sunday night). Here’s Fake Plastic Trees: