Review: Radiohead – Live at the Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO., March 11, 2012

Radiohead at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO.    Opening Act: Other Lives.    



Bloom; 15 Step; Morning Mr. Magpie; Weird Fishes/Arpeggi; All I Need; Pyramid Song; The Daily Mail; Supercollider; Nude; Identikit; Lotus Flower; There There; Feral; How to Disappear Completely; Reckoner. Encores: Separator; Myxomatosis; Idioteque; Lucky; Everything in Its Right Place; Give Up the Ghost; Paranoid Android.


I’m a solid Christian, but if Jesus went on tour he’d open for Radiohead. Sorry Jesus, simply saving our souls isn’t quite enough for tonight. Radiohead is just that good. I actually find it
odd that Radiohead even goes on tour. I don’t know why they tour. They are the pinnacle of music without touring. The beautiful stage setup doesn’t separate them apart, nor does the dazzling light show. They don’t have some magical hovercraft to maneuver around stage on, they don’t play sets longer or shorter than other bands, and they sell tickets the same way everyone else does. And all of that is such an aberration from how Radiohead makes (and distribute) their music. Radiohead has placed itself so far ahead of the curve musically that a standard, basic approach to touring seems, on the surface, a (15) step sideways. It’s almost painful for me to admit to others that Radiohead’s show was on the surface, like many of their peers.

Well, except they have no fucking peers!  Radiohead doesn’t merely do what they do better than anyone else – there simply isn’t a group right now that can even do what Radiohead does to compare them with. It’s like everyone is bring a knife to a gun fight, and Radiohead is standing there with an M-16 just in case. Radiohead makes music with layers. Layers that you can pull away to find other wonderful sets of layers underneth, with different sounds, rhythms and twists that defy explanation. A single listen to a Radiohead song (such as ‘Reckoner, for example) deprives the listener of the ability to study and decipher the typical brilliance in the songwriting and song structure that Radiohead creates. Repeated listenings are a must. Since their jaw-dropping paradigm shift with the 1997 release of OK Computer, Radiohead has turned songwriting on its head, and has spent the last 15 years molding songwriting into a skill that only a tiny handful of composers approach or touch. However, no band can truly walk in Radiohead’s shadow; it’s just too big and everyone else is too far away (sorry Chris Martin).

The live show can’t possibly live up Radiohead’s creative panache in the studio. But their renditions are astounding. Songs like ‘Paranoid Android’ and ‘There There’ show us the roots of Radiohead’s ridiculous brilliance and diversity. ‘Android’ is foreshadowing for studio imagery that we see later with Radiohead’s electro, mid-tempo, hypnotic tunes like ‘15 Step’, and ‘Lotus

Flower’. ‘There There’ is a heart-pumping blast from recent years past, and in the studio we get blazing replacements like ‘Bodysnatchers’. And despite the clear leadership of Yorke, Radiohead is no one-man band. Each man stands tall and commands. Ed O’Brien and the Greenwoods fill the emotional gold cup that Yorke creates. They stand on stage, at ease, nearly expressionless. They know they are the best. They don’t need you to tell them that. They have an M-16, don’t you remember?

I could go song by song but why. Every show is different on this tour. Read the setlist and just imagine how great it is. My instrument of choice here is Yorke’s voice. Aside from Jeff Tweedy, no voice shines as bright as Mr. Yorke. His lead vocal on tracks like ‘All I Need’, ‘Nude’ and ‘Separator’ send chills through your spine as you try and grasp how he accomplishes such a sonic brilliance. His voice is angelic. I can’t imagine rock music without them. Oh wait, yes I can, um, that would be the gut-wrenching power ballad days of Bon Jovi and Whitesnake. Where’s my pistol? Even if you don’t like Radiohead we all owe them a thanks for the salvation they give us.

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