Radiohead playing at Key Arena on Monday night was probably the biggest single concert Seattle has hosted in years, at least as far as KEXP-inclined music listeners are concerned. Outside, there were a number of grossly long lines for various ticket claiming, redeeming, and purchasing (ha, no), and behind me in front of will call a group of older fans were trying to figure out if they were in the right line. One mentioned that he hadn’t been to a concert at Key Arena “since it became Key Arena.” His friend, on the other hand, HAD seen a show at Key Arena, most recently Jethro Tull in ’75. It was a crowd that transcended generations and trends, comprised of music fans who recognized Radiohead as the most important and most influential rock band of the past 20 years. This was an EVENT. Fortunately, the impossibly long lines outside the Key were moving smoothly enough to get everyone inside in time to settle in and get ready.
Thousands were already seated and standing in front of the stage when Other Lives came on at 7:30. Despite the number of people they were playing to, Radiohead’s guitar techs could have been on stage setting up while Other Lives were performing and I don’t think anyone would have noticed or cared — the majority of the crowd was still milling around the concourse or waiting in line anyway. Despite the general sense of indifference, Other Lives were impressive. While most first-time listeners probably just noted that they sounded a bit like Radiohead — which, in some ways they do — the Oklahoma six-piece played desolate, Western-tinged exploratory rock that featured reverberating trumpet solos and eerie vocal harmonizing. Their latest album, Tamer Animals, was released last year on TBD and landed on several of our staff and DJs’ top ten lists. Definitely check these guys out if you haven’t already. There’s a reason that Radiohead hand picked them to open so many tour dates, and they’re now selling out venues on their own.
Like probably most people in attendance, this was my first time seeing Radiohead, as they don’t seem to make it to the Northwest very often. My expectations were lofty, and Radiohead certainly lived up to them, but I wouldn’t say they exceeded them. I expected them to be freaking awesome, and they were. I was predictably blown away. I was particularly delighted with Thom Yorke. I’ve seen live videos of him dancing and convulsing, but I wasn’t sure how animated he was actually going to be throughout the night. To everyone’s enjoyment, he bounded around the stage incessantly in what fell somewhere in between shadowboxing, salsa dancing, and a never-ending seizure. His voice was nothing short of otherworldly, particularly on “Pyramid Song” — with the stage bathed in blue light, his pristine moanings could have been mistaken for a whale’s call. He didn’t engage the audience at length between songs, but usually had something to say, even if it was just “holy shit.” Before playing “The Daily Mail” he spoke of the paper’s phone tapping practices, saying that “I supposed there are worse things in life,” adding a few seconds later that “It IS a load of shit, though.”
“The Daily Mail” — which sounded incredible live — was one of a few new songs they played to go along with most of King of Limbs and a good mix of older favorites, including “Airbag,” “Myxomatosis,” “There There” (which featured Greenwood and Ed O’Brien playing drums along with the two other drummers), “Itdioteque,” “How To Disappear Completely,” “Pyramid Song,” “You And Whose Army?” and “15 Step.” They ended their second and final encore (by this point there might have been 37 separate uproarious ovations), with “Everything In Its Right Place,” which Yorke dedicated to Greenwood, who had been struggling with hand troubles.
Little by Little
Morning Mr. Magpie
The Daily Mail
These Are My Twisted Words
How to Disappear Completely
You and Whose Army?
Give Up the Ghost
Everything In Its Right Place