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Concert review: Radiohead at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, IL – June 10, 2012

Radiohead at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, Illinois.  Opening act: Caribou

Setlist: 

Thom Yorke during ‘Bloom’

Bloom, There There,  15 Step,  Kid A, Staircase, Morning Mr. Magpie,  The Gloaming, Codex, The Amazing Sounds Of Orgy, Karma Police, Reckoner, Lotus Flower, Myxomatosis, Feral, Little by Little, Idioteque

Encore: Supercollider, Full Stop, Bodysnatchers, Everything In Its Right Place (Intro: The One I Love – R.E.M.)

Encore 2: Give Up the Ghost, Identikit, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, Street Spirit [Fade Out]

Review:

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to evaluate a Radiohead performance without sitting along one of the two polar opposite ends of the fandom/critic spectrum. On side A we have the legions of fans that have loved and followed Radiohead since the days of The Bends. Radiohead’s turnover ratio for new fans is quite low,

Thom Yorke during ‘There There’

and that’s a good thing. Those that loved Radiohead in 1995 still love them today. That can’t be said for Pearl Jam, the Smashing Pumpkins, Oasis and so many more big groups from the 90′s. On side B, we have the devoted new fans – those that have only seen Radiohead live but once or twice and have become a supporter in the past half dozen years along with the other hipsters on the planet. For many of them, In Rainbows was their introduction to Radiohead. So we lie at this big dichotomy which is painfully obvious upon talking with dozens of fans after the show. For some (not all) of the long-time fans, the show was a mere shadowy interpretation of Radiohead from the past. Stellar yes, but far from their best. To the newbies, it was fucking epic – highlighted by an engaging light show full of 80-inch plasma TV’s hanging from the heavens along with a plentiful splattering of the oldies (‘Street Spirit’, ‘Karma Police’) that the new fans have recently purchased and loved since declaring In Rainbows as their favorite new album. This mix creates an interesting demographic situation at the concert.

 

Thom Yorke plaing guitar during ‘Bloom’

So I’m in the middle. Call me Mr. Switzerland if you must as I try and find a peaceful resolution to the two groups looking for very different things at the same show. Solving the middle-east crisis this is not but on a muggy and breezy Sunday night in Chicago, there’s nothing more important in the world than knowing which songs Thom is going to pull out from The Bends, OK Computer and Kid A. From the perspective of yours truly, the inclusion of ‘There There’ as the 2nd song was a bolt of lightning complete with quad drummers. Mind-blowing precision and sensory-punishing theater it is. Truly one of those seminal moments from a history of live show crashing that dates back to the mid-80′s for myself. To hear this rendition and this spectacle within ten feet of the band is what it must have been like to see Elvis perform ‘Jailhouse Rock’ in 1956, or the Rolling Stones play ‘Satisfaction’ in 1966, or Jimi Hendrix performing…..well, you know where this is going. It was a rendition that came earlier than expected in the show but brought both groups of fans, both new and young together into a jaw-dropping state. The view from the front was rather unprecedented. Several photographers brushed aside their Nikons to stare at each other with eyes that looked like someone just threw a bucket of ice down their shorts, as they all joined into the applause. An amazing introduction to the power that is Radiohead and their sonic magic.

 

ching ching ching ching

Three-quarters into the show and I ask myself – minus the glorius arena enviornment, how would Radiohead fare if it was just the band and their amps, on a dimly lit stage with no light show at the Vic Theater on a different side of Chicago in front of 1400 people, not 28,000? No more big plasma TV’s hanging from the lights, no more crowd members sitting in a different area code. Right now, I think they would destroy the Vic. These are outstanding performers still at the peak of their powers. We know Radiohead is probably towards the downslope of an amazing run. An amazing run with time that is very slowly ticking away, and in 4-6 years that beard of Thom Yorke’s is going to turn 75% gray instead of 20% like it is now. At what point will the most innovative and powerful band alive start to make us finally believe they are merely mortal, and not the gifts of our musical lives? On this night in Chicago, they are largely brilliant – and I’m certain they would be equally so in a much smaller, more initimate setting. What Radiohead has going for it is the relationship each member of the crowd has with

Ed O’Brien of Radiohead during ‘Bloom’

their favorite Radiohead songs. Each rendition brings back a memory in time that a particular song lifted them into a different emotional plane. It can be ‘Reckoner’ as much as it can be ‘Everything in its Right Place’. We want their songs to make us feel like we’re watching The Matrix – trying to decide between what is real and what couldn’t possibly be real. But we have to remind ourselves there’s now an entire group of Radiohead followers that have never even seen that film. They were probably about 6 at the time and are the same fans that first listened to Kid A about two years ago. The older crowd still shrieks at the announcement of new songs (‘Full Stop’, ‘Identikit’) as early signals of Radiohead’s next sound. The amazement we all share with Radiohead isn’t how they the make their great music, it’s how in the world they keep fucking pulling it off with such ease year after year, and show after show. Certainly it will come to a stop someday, right? The thought of seeing them as mere mortals someday is almost too much for many of us to bear. We have no one to take their place. So let me perfectly clear: attend every fucking show you can reach, and do it now.

The Tinley Park crowd with Thom Yorke during ‘There There’

Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood during ’15 Step’

Jonny Greenwood during the opening song, ‘Bloom’

‘There There’

 

Related links below:

See where Radiohead lands in the top 10 albums of 2011

Here’s our Radiohead review from March of 2012 in Kansas City

Guess who we think is the most important band since the Beatles

Where does Radiohead fall in the top 15 albums of all time?

 

 

 

 

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10 Responses to Concert review: Radiohead at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre in Tinley Park, IL – June 10, 2012

  1. Not sure how the band feels about your review. I just know that I feel you hit the nail on the head with several points. I found them on Youtube July of 2008. Been hooked everyday since. Saw them perform in Atlanta this past March. Still have a hard time realizing that I saw what I consider to be, the best band that ever was….

  2. twths says:

    Thank you Jean. Clearly, what Radiohead is doing is nearly unprecedented. To maintain not just their greatness, but their ability to innovate for such a long duration of time is remarkable. Perhaps they can pull this off for another ten years – and we all hope they do! :-)

    –TWTHS

  3. Rich says:

    Thank you so much for the review and the photos! I was standing front row on the rail when you were taking photos of the setlist and the guy behind me was shouting “show us your camera!” When you refused with that big grin he only replied “you’re an asshole!” (in a playful manner, of course). After the show, I got the very setlist you took photos of and it is now hanging on my wall in my room. What an amazing show, right?

    • twths says:

      Amazing show indeed! I have nothing short of 110% true admiration and respect for those fans on the rail such as yourself and your friend (even if he’s calling me an asshole playfully :-)) You guys are the best fans in the world and the band knows it, trust me. One of the girls on the rail last night recognized me from when she was on the rail at the KC show when I photographed that one – amazing! Glad you like the photos. Check back over the next few days. I have another 200 or more photos to share with this review. Congrats on getting that setlist!! That’s an amazing souvenir – the FIRST ever setlist with ‘Full Stop’! How cool.
      Take care friend!

      –TWTHS

  4. angela says:

    funny how I never thought of being an old or new follower, but you are right. there is a difference. Perhaps we have it a bit harder in reconciling the past with the present, but that’s ok. I guess it’s a little scary to think that it might end someday. I’m a happy fanatic now, getting my Radiohead adjustments as often as possible, and the Chicago show gave old and new something to chew on until the next opportunity. Love the fans, the band and the weird chemistry that happens when it all collides like some celestial infusion. We are all different now; we are all better. Nice dream!

    • twths says:

      Wonderful comments Angela and you tied it all up together very nicely – even better than the review did. A friend of mine mentioned to me recently that it would be very interesting to do a sociological study on the influence and impact of Radiohead on its fanbase. Now, I don’t know what all that means but it sounds worthwhile and exciting. It is scary to imagine life without Radiohead since no one else has taken that mantle from them to carry onward. Let’s hope we can go at least another 5 or 6 years without having to worry about it. :)

      Take care!

      –TWTHS

  5. theButterFly says:

    You know… They had an album before The Bends. Jez… Am I the only one (Radiohead themselves included) who remembers that? FREE PABLO!

    • twths says:

      Good point Mark. Pablo is certainly considered to be the red-headed stepchild of the Radiohead catalog. Not much love for it even to this day which is odd since people usually look back at things more fondly as time passes. Maybe if they would quit creating such damn good records we’d be forced to look that far back. :)

      –TWTHS

  6. Evee says:

    I just love your review… I’m part of the “old fans” and the first show I got to see live was South Park (Oxford) 2001 where they played Creep while we were getting rained on! Then many more in Montreal and New York… so when I saw them in Montreal last summer, it was bittersweet for me. They were amazing, like always, but at the same time it felt a bit like they played every good song that is in between their great song – like those songs you listen to in order to get back from your music high from those other songs. Well, like you said “a mere shadowy interpretation of Radiohead from the past.” And as I was trying to explain this after the show to that newer (younger) generation of fan they were looking at me like I was trashing the best band ever. Anyhow, I just can’t wait to have the chance to see them again because they are even better live than on records (which is incredible in itself)…

    BTW I saw them in an “intimate” (3,000) concert in Montreal and they can truly create that same intense experience in a smaller less grandiose decor. I got a Radiohead high from that show that lasted weeks!

    • twths says:

      Dear Evee,

      I wanted to thank you for such a thoughtful, well-written, and kind reply to the concert review. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through your note and your past Radiohead experiences, which are indeed story worthy. How lucky you have been to capture such a seminal band so many times during their storied history. Please check back often and drop us a note anytime at info@thewaythathesings.com. We’d love to hear from you.

      –Jeff

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