Live Review

Bilbao BBK Live 2012 (Day Two)

For anyone less than a superfan, it’s impossible to feel involved.

How on Earth do you review Radiohead?

Much like their contemporaries, Radiohead have spent the last 27 years of their existence chiselling out a reputation for themselves but unlike most, their reputation is one for being obtuse.

From their by now infamous refusal to play the hits to their complete lack of audience interaction, are Radiohead a law unto themselves or are they just a bit misunderstood? The answer to this question is likely to shape your entire opinion of their performance.

Four Tet whisks the audience into what can only be described as ‘a frenzy’ as he finishes his fantastic section of the evening, gearing the crowd up for something pretty special. We’re ready for Radiohead.

Kicking off their performance with ‘Bloom’, the tone for the evening is set pretty quickly. The band are into it. The band are completely absorbed in the sound that they’re creating. Perhaps so absorbed that they find it a little bit difficult to share that sensation with the rest of us.

You can’t fault them from a technical perspective, the band are tight, they know what they’re doing and the songs that they perform are played perfectly, but is that all that you want from a festival headliner or do you want a show? Because if it’s the latter you’re looking for, you’re about to be sorely disappointed.

The evening’s atmosphere is sombre and unsociable as the audience sleep walk themselves through a dreary two hours worth of Yorke and co., breaking only temporarily for the crowd-pleasing ‘Karma Police’, which sees a few heads bobbing in unison. The newer material heavy-set seems typical of the band’s more recent performances, forcing those more casual listeners into an isolated corner and bringing them out occasionally for a scattering of songs from ‘Ok Computer’.

With the weather taking a turn for the worst, Radiohead call time earlier than expected, closing their performance with ‘Paranoid Android’ over 15 minutes before their advertised finishing time.

Their sets are meant to be difficult, their albums a challenge, and we’re meant to appreciate them rather than blindly enjoy the experience, but for anyone less than a superfan, tonight’s performance is lacking in the basic requirements for a festival headliner; it’s impossible to feel involved.

As the lights come up, attendees charge in the direction of the second stage where Vetusta Morla change the feel of the evening entirely. Carrying on well into the night, their seemingly hit-filled set grants them what appears to be the biggest crowd of the event so far as the Spaniards transform their audience into an all-singing all dancing chorus of a crowd. A brilliant pick me up and a great end to the penultimate day’s proceedings.

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