Radiohead at Malahide (6 June)

I travelled to the gig by DART, arriving a bit late due to faffing and dozing in the afternoon. As I sat in solitary silence on Dublin’s coastal train, practising my commuter nonchalance, I had a nagging feeling that I recognised the lady sitting diagonally opposite me. She was with her teenage daughter – who sported some coolly functional wellies – and a tall American guy with model good looks. The three of them chatted away: the girl voicing her concerns about how next year in school the pressure would be on to decide what she wanted to do and she wasn’t sure; the guy had been on some photo shoot that day; the girl was surprised at how far Malahide was…I caught a few more moments of shut-eye as we made our way to the end of the line. I lost them when we arrived in Malahide – greeted by a shower of rain – but, somewhere between the station and the arena it dawned on me that the lady was none other than Ali Hewson, wife of Bono, and the girl who I’d been sitting beside for the past half an hour was her eldest, Jordan. I did catch up to them just as we came within earshot of the arena.

All I need. This opened the set; I really like the piano clusters. A rainbow had appeared in the sky and, when I noticed the tall American guy noticing it, I remarked “that’s quite a trick to pull off: actually doing the concert *in* a *rainbow*!”. He looked a little taken aback at the weirdness of the stranger he’d awkwardly shared knee space with suddenly reappearing with lame witticism at his side. Jordan laughed, though, and I walked on ahead.

Anyway, the concert. I got to the arena, having compliantly handed over my plastic bottle top to the security people, as Radiohead struck up the next number.

There there. I’d arrived in my spot – to the right of the sound desk – by the end of the song.

The stage was flanked by huge screens, there was a long screen on the wall behind the band, and
the whole stage was hung with long light tubes.

Airbag.

“Hi, we’re Radiohead, pleased to meet you. Did anyone see the rainbow? That’s happening every night, you know.”

Bangers and mash. Thom played a second drum kit on this song that I haven’t got but recognised. Maybe they played it on the Scotch Mist film they released at the new year? I don’t remember.

15 step. This is an absolute cracker of a song, my favourite from the new album. I bought a t-shirt (made from between 3-6 recycled plastic bottles, apparently) with one of the lines from this song on it: You used to be alright. What happened?

Nude. Beautiful. The climbing vocal lines at the end of this song and the way the music just disappears like a vapour trail in a blue sky…

…a metaphor that the band might not appreciate, given their commitment to green issues on this tour. It made all the more poignant the steady flow of aeroplanes taking off from the airport that sailed by in the left of my vision all night.

Pyramid song. Thom took to the piano and Jonny Greenwood played his guitar with a bow for this song that delights the musician in me with its easily flowing rhythm that floats between the beats of the bar like a spirit.

“Cool beans. Thanks very much everyone. How’s it going? This is one we’ve got back into for a number of reasons…can’t remember what they are…”

Optimistic.

“Right, let’s see what happens now.”

Weird fishes / Arpeggi. A great example of Radiohead’s being at the top of their game as a band – the interplay of the various parts, the solid, logical, interesting harmonic movement, the effortless melody and the spot-on harmonies of Ed O’Brien. The lights were beautiful in this song – little beads hovering in the middle of each of the tubes, creating a gentle, oceanic swell.

<recorded> “I think the point Scarrie(?) is trying to make there is that this is euro time, and that goes for me…” (sounded like Colin Farrell to me, was it off the radio?)

The national anthem. The song they opened with when I first saw them back in Belfast in September 2001 – I still remember the feeling! Thom sang the horn parts.

<recorded> “…heart of darkness…Italians…” (didn’t catch it all)

Idioteque.

Reckoner.

House of cards.

Everything in its right place. The Tibetan flag-draped electric piano was brought to the front of the stage for this one.

Faust arp. Just Thom and Jonny on acoustics for this one.

Bodysnatchers.

Videotape. During the intro for this – Thom on piano – some people in the front must’ve tried to quiet chattering fans, because Thom said “Yeah, shush, this is serious business”. A song in the same kind of vein as Pyramid Song, I think, with the poignantly sad visions of heaven in both.

—–

The gloaming. I was at the merchandise stand for this song, being skipped in the queue by a skinny Northern girl who was asking the merchandiser if they did extra small t-shirts.

You and whose army. Thom sang this into the close-up camera, to great effect.

Myxomatosis. Powerful, all-over-the-road riff; “…my thoughts are misguided, I’m a little naive, I twitch and I salivate like with myxomatosis…”. Great song live.

My iron lung.

How to disappear completely. They kind of have to sing this in Ireland, what with the “…I float down the Liffey…” line. It did get a huge cheer and is, after all, apt to finish a gig with.

—–

Super collider. Thom played this new song, which had an interesting, shifting piano part, by himself.

Just. Brilliant – I love the climbing tension towards the chorus with its sheer release and the excellent guitar parts (which sounded a *little* bit as if the guys had played them every night for the last generation…but who am I to judge!).

Paranoid android. This is a tough vocal line that, after an entire evening’s belting, Thom didn’t quite nail. The vocals for the entire night sat clearly on top of the mix, which is one of the best I’ve heard.

“Nighty night”.

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