I have recently, officially, been diagnosed with tinnitus. 100% my fault. I didn’t really need a doctor to tell me. Too many years listening to hi-fi systems at loud volumes, headphones and air horns.
So when I go to shows I now take ear plugs, but at last night’s stop in Dallas of Radiohead I just couldn’t bring myself to insert them. Ok, I did a couple of times just to see how much it would lessen the experience. It did. Too much.
Sadly, i’ve only seen Radiohead twice. Last time was three years ago at a local outdoor pavilion, this time inside the barn-like confines of the American Airlines Center. It was a packed, sold-out show, but the truth is that I yearn to see this band in a proper, smaller venue. I was along the side, and far enough back that I had a great, full view of the stage and the wonderful light show. Being equidistance from the stage as the sound board, the sound was surprisingly good.
And when I awoke this morning the ringing I went to bed with was still present and louder than it normally is during my average day…but I don’t care because it just reminds me of the great show I witnessed last night.
The current tour is one to see on different stops simply because the setlist has changed dramatically from night to night in just the five shows leading up to and including the Dallas stop. Each night almost half the set is different from another show, and I’ve read that the band has prepped as many as 75 songs for the tour. On the first night they debuted two new songs, “Identikit” and ” Cut a Hole“. Dallas only got the former, but were treated to the debut live performances of two songs, “The Amazing Sounds of Orgy” and “Skirting On the Surface” (videos of both below).
Bloom, the new CD’s opener was also the first song of the night. The band’s bravery in playing every aspect of this live is very much a high wire act. There are several different rhythms taking place and there were moments when it sounded like it was all about to fly apart – but then it all came together and ended as a proper rock song.
Highlights for me were “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” from In Rainbows, the back to back mellow mix of “The Daily Mail/Pyramid Song”, the very soulful rendition of “Karma Police” (a song I’ve heard so many times I’m apathetic about it until I heard the way I did last night), the shockingly day glow eye burning light show that ended the first set with “Idioteque” and the pure beauty of “Give Up The Ghost”.
Couple of other notes. What makes Radiohead admirable, but others find “self indulgent” (you know who you are) is the band’s apathy towards making set lists that will set the crowd afire. A man in front of me pronounced that he, “felt ‘Creep’ coming on”, and I instantly felt sorry for the old guy. No, what he got was a 2nd encore that not only started not with a loud rock uptempo, but the complete opposite in “Give Up the Ghost“. And just to step on the throat of everyone in the audience waiting for a “rock song”, they rolled out one that “you’ve never heard before, ever”, in “Skirting on the Surface”.
Sure, they ended with the much beloved, and rightfully so, “Paranoid Android“, but in the two hours leading up to that moment Radiohead was doing what they wanted and leaving me with even a worse case of tinnitus than I came in with.