Live Review, 4/11/12: Radiohead Moves to the Beat in San Jose

Categories: Last Night

Radiohead_san_jose_cover.jpg
Christopher Victorio
Radiohead in San Jose last night.

Radiohead
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
HP Pavilion, San Jose

Better than: The way you will dance to weird rhythms when you are 43 and have two kids.

Maybe "dancing" isn't quite the right word for it, but whatever you want to call that moving thing Thom Yorke does to the music Radiohead makes these days, let's all be really grateful that it happens. Onstage in San Jose last night, Yorke stopped his jigging, bouncing, and limb-shaking only when seated behind a keyboard or saddled with a guitar. The rest of the time, his jester-like figure -- curt ponytail, scraggly beginnings of a beard, comical skinny red pants, plain vest -- fluttered around like a bird that had just eaten a jumping bean.

This movement is important, because it tells you where Yorke -- and by extension Radiohead -- are at. After the general loathing of the OK Computer era, and the isolated gloom of Kid A and Amnesiac, Yorke (and the band) seem to have found their footing in The Beat. Last night in San Jose, The Beat was a prism through which Radiohead focused many of its best songs, including, of course, selections from that rhythm-heavy new album, King of Limbs.

Radiohead_san_jose_2.jpg
Christopher Victorio

When the recorded versions of songs didn't have beats, like "Everything in its Right Place," Radiohead added them (in that case, a four-on-the-floor pulse!) -- demonstrating in the process that this really is a band best experienced live. And the complex rhythms that underpin some more recent songs got a full-throated airing onstage, with two drummers and times when even more band members found something to bang on. So "Lotus Flower," the King of Limbs single whose video is basically Yorke doing his freak-dance for some five minutes, was just immensely satisfying -- far more visceral and heartfelt than the cold recorded version would lead you to believe. (And of course Yorke jerked around like mad throughout the song.)

Radiohead demonstrated its rock side, too: We were treated to a seemingly rare airing of "Planet Telex," and a swooning, piano-heavy take on "Karma Police" that foregrounded Jonny Greenwood's piano work. (The fans were so elated for that one that they continued singing the refrain after the song had ended, and Yorke responded hilariously by gesturing at them as if he was conducting a symphony.) Meanwhile, "Myxomatosis," a regular in setlists on this tour, recalled 1990s Nine Inch Nails; and "I Might Be Wrong" -- prefaced onstage by the thrilling sound of Greenwood tuning his distorted guitar down to a drop-D -- felt like the perfect middle ground between Radiohead's rock past and its beat present: Nearly everyone around me was moving to the rhythm, but many were also making that scrunched-up face people make when electric guitars are producing loud, snarling, rawk sounds.

Radiohead_san_jose_3_fisheye.jpg
Christopher Victorio

So yes, this was a pretty great concert even as far as Radiohead shows go: A goods-delivering setlist (see below), an attentive audience, and a jolly-seeming Yorke, who was either totally clueless about his whereabouts, or just thought that asking "Where am I?" in a patronizing tone over and over again might encourage the San Jose fans to move somewhere more memorable. In between rhetorical put-downs, though, Yorke was downright chatty, calling out a few song names, rambling on in nearly unintelligible British about the half-forgotten origin behind "The Amazing Sounds of Orgy," and joking that new song "Identikit" was "freely available on YouTube, as are many things." What a dryly profound wit this art-jester had!

Location Info

Venue

Map

HP Pavilion

525 W. Santa Clara, San Jose, CA

Category: Music

My Voice Nation Help
15 comments
Liz
Liz

Loved it. On par with The Police. Best current rock band playing. It's easy to be critical rather than constructive. Remember for those who are so hyper critical: 1. they are only human and 2. this is entirely live. 

winning
winning

Loved it.  Was allowed on the FLOOR after Karma Police, which changed my experience drastically. 

Set list was fine...you guys are crazy. 

Signalchain
Signalchain

I think the lack of the kind of usual elation felt at this show is more a result of a lack of connection felt to the "songs" on "The King of Limbs".  Been with this band since the beginning, and the move to less structured, beats-based electronic trip hop style on the most recent efforts has left me a little flat. Granted, no one wants to play the same stuff for their whole career, and no one can fault them for wishing to grow and be challenged.  But, the constant lack of any part of a verse or chorus is why most of the newer stuff is hard to become engrossed in.  As a fan I fell in love with the ridiculous genius of the chords and movements on "Ok" and "Kid A".  That part of this band has moved on, and change is never easy.Still, a much better live show than most-  just not what they've been in the past.

crucibroke
crucibroke

Meh.  They sounded a bit sloppy.  Instruments fell off the beat more than a few times.  Thom butchered Climbing Up Walls, leaning to the crowd to figure out where he was in the song.  I think he even felt guilty accepting the cheers "Thanks for that."  Visuals were cool, but there were even a few hiccups there when panels went out.  

Definitely not as polished as the tour to support In Rainbows.  Didn't really connect with the setlist this time around either. 

I think we may have just been a stop to iron out wrinkles before Coachella.   

Rbeen
Rbeen

 I'm glad you noticed all that stuff and couldn't enjoy it.  Negative beings like you don't deserve the great experience the rest of us had at the show.

Meatsack
Meatsack

Radiohead is one of those bands I heard the name of over and over, I assumed they were OK.  I had also been hearing the music everywhere too. When I put it together I was amazed at the averageness of it.

I never figured a band with a name like nickelback would be good, when I heard that rockstar song I was amazed by the sub crappy status.

Who likes these bands?  So strange.

Rbeen
Rbeen

If you have just recently been hearing alot about radiohead I dunno what dimension you're in- not mine for sure.

The name "radiohead" is startlingly similar to nickelback.  Just an inanimate object + body part.  That is where the similarities between these bands stop. 

What does Meatsack's comment even mean, btw? 

Rich
Rich

Haha, Nickelback and Radiohead in the same breath. Not sure how that's even possible.

Bill
Bill

The setlist was lazy, bland and generic. Not one song from The Bends.

Beep Beep Click Click

Seeing Radiohead in a big arena like that makes me never want to see them again. If that was the best show you've been to you're either 15 or you don't get out enough.

Ewouiew
Ewouiew

Earth to Bill-- Planet Telex is the opening song from The Bends.You call 25 songs lazy?!  The band killed it.  Where were you?

David James Brown
David James Brown

Dude you are an idiot, get on with your life and stop being so hard to please and they played Planet Telex! You knew they wasn't gunna play greatest hits, as Ed said last year and they will play king of limbs with songs suited to that, so you shouldn't have paid to see them, if you wasn't happy about that! 

Jlm5xd
Jlm5xd

they played planet telex...

Ken
Ken

I was so excited when that came on. I do agree that seeing any band in an arena is inherently antiseptic. That was my first arena show in over 10 years, and I probably wouldn't do it for anyone other than Radiohead.

Ian S. Port
Ian S. Port

Dammit! I am 15!

Nope. I just like what you call the "Beep Beep Click Click."

Sean
Sean

Great review -- couldn't agree with you more. I was 2 people back from the stage, in front of Thom, and it was mesmerizing. Perhaps the best show I've been to!

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Drink

San Francisco Event Tickets
©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.
Loading...