Live Review

Radiohead, Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam

They have always been more emotional and visceral live than on record.

Photo by Gabriella

If you’ve been going to see Radiohead since the early 90s when a venue like Northampton Roadmenders seemed unnecessarily large, then seeing them in large arenas is only ever going to fill you with trepidation.

Radiohead 2012, however, is a smooth operation designed to get the most out of such spaces. With their astonishingly low-energy light show and high-energy performance, they have no trouble putting on a spectacle that does justice to a 17,000-capacity venue like Amsterdam’s brand new Ziggo Dome.

All the band’s members may be over 40, but they have more energy than ever before; it feels as though they’ve been in training specially. With the addition of drummer Clive Deamer (who also plays with Portishead), Radiohead are invigorated. Material from most recent album ‘The King of Limbs’, on record perhaps a little cold and electronic, comes alive as a riot of percussion. ‘Separator’ in particular is warmer; sensual even.

They have always been more emotional and visceral live than on record. The present setup seems to be all about rhythm, their own particular brand of it. Drums and percussion both programmed and live are as integral as Thom Yorke’s voice to their material. From the opening track ‘Bloom’, even Jonny Greenwood takes to a miniature drum kit. They follow this with ‘Lucky’ - much earlier in the set than expected.

The show never lets up with barely a chance to get your breath back between songs. Thom in particular seems to have more energy than ever, never stopping moving, his own idiosyncratic dance style inspiring even the clumsiest of us to move to the music. Always a charismatic and flirtatious performer, he’s getting cheekier with age.

Brand new song ‘Ful Stop’ is starting to sound fully formed, and tonight is genuinely funky. ‘Karma Police’, the oldest song of the evening, provokes the usual hearty singalong. ‘Feral’ follows, and it becomes downright sexy. ‘Paranoid Android’ ends the main set, Jonny laying in to his guitar.

Thom and Jonny return for an encore of ‘Give Up The Ghost’ with sampled vocal loops and deceptively simple guitar lines. The overhead screens are particularly effective now, giving close-ups of two performers appearing to be really enjoying themselves. The rest of the band rejoin them for ‘Supercollider’, a track representing the Radiohead who are more comfortable in the world than the people they used to be, who are as adventurous and musically peerless as ever.

Thom is up to full steam and pushes it even further with ‘Good Morning Mr Magpie’, which feels like the most successful transition of a ‘King of Limbs’ song to the live arena. He then asks for our help to sing the wordy ‘Wolf at the Door’, ‘I’ve been in Amsterdam for a while!’

‘Bodysnatchers’ keeps up the pace, then we get to take it down for ‘How To Disappear’. ‘Everything In Its Right Place’, with an introductory verse of Björk’s ‘Unravel’ seems neater with Clive Deamer added to the mix. It’s like he fills in all the beats that need to be there. The band leave the stage one by one in their customary fashion, but the gig’s not quite over. From the wall of noise at the end comes ‘Idioteque’. Thom throws his most desperate shapes but there’s a look of glee upon his face as he finishes the song as breathless as the crowd.

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