Radiohead's 2012 tour kicks off in Miami . . .

all photos Alexis Santos/Catalyst

by Alexis Santos

Musically, I’m a child of the 1980s. Every band I’ve seen in concert has claimed its fame in the decade that baby blue and hot pink were considered a combination at the peak of style. Shirts from Styx, the Eagles and Journey concerts adorn my closest. On Monday, Feb. 27, I broke personal tradition and attended a Radiohead concert – my first concert featuring a band which rose to popularity in the 1990s.

I was familiar with three songs by Radiohead prior to the concert: “Creep,” “Karma Police” and one from their 2011 album, “Lotus Flower.” The concert was somewhat like listening to an album for the first time with the volume turned up to 11 while several thousand people who knew the songs by heart sat and, more often than not, danced around me. Though “Karma Police” and “Lotus Flower” were the only songs played that I knew particularly well, I became a quick fan of the band only a few songs into the setlist. As a result, the weeks after the concert will be very expensive for me in terms of purchases on iTunes.

Much of what Radiohead played came from their latest two albums, In Rainbows and The King of Limbs. The band also introduced two new songs, “Identikit” and “Cut a Hole,” as the show was the first stop in their 2012 tour. After raucous applause, the band came back on stage for two encores.

Along with impressive sound, Radiohead also put on an entertaining performance. Lead singer Thom Yorke’s signature wriggling dance moves were a constant throughout the show. In addition to a large collection of lights, the major set pieces were screens displaying live video of the musicians. A row of screens were fixed above the stage and displayed live video of the performers from a closer vantage point. An array of movable screens also hovered above the band and arranged themselves into different positions for each song.

A major and welcome surprise of the concert was the opening band, Other Lives. With a sound vaguely reminiscent of Florence + the Machine – only without Florence – they’re a pleasure to listen to. Using a blend of acoustic guitars, drums, piano, cellos and more, they strike a relaxed yet compelling sound.

Evaluation: Satisfactory

Full setlist available here.

. . . and then goes to Tampa

by Casey Morell

Because they only come around every four years, it’s popular to think that leap days allow you to do the things in life you’d like to without any real repercussions to the rest of your collective existence — anything you do on Feb. 29 will be written off without consequence.

I certainly hope Radiohead’s performance at the Tampa Bay Times Forum this past leap day will be exempted from that rule, because trying to forget it would be a Sisyphean task.

Touring in support of their latest album, The King of Limbs, the band played to a not-quite sold out — but still very enthusiastic — crowd for just over two hours. What most impressed me was just how good they sounded: the fact that lead singer Thom Yorke can exercise the same type of vocal control and hit the same high notes live that he does on their records is a rare talent these days (in particular, their performance of “Nude,” a hauntingly simple ballad delivered in a high register, from 2007’s In Rainbows was performed spectacularly), and that some of Radiohead’s more complex instrumentation was replicated with seemingly relative ease on stage is a testament to their talents as musicians.

Their skills as dancers, though, may leave something to be desired — Yorke’s penchant for looking like an off-kilter windmill while on stage was in full display while the rest of the band dutifully played their instruments.

Radiohead featured a number of newer songs that haven’t been released on any album yet, like “Staircase” (which Yorke described laughingly as “a new song, unless you watch Saturday Night Live,” as it debuted on television earlier this year), “Identikit” and “Meeting in the Aisle,” both of which are new to this tour. As a longtime Radiohead fan, I expected much of the material played to be from more recent albums — looking at the setlist from the Miami concert ahead of time led me to expect that — but I was surprised at how willing the band was to play somewhat more unexpected tracks, including “Pyramid Song” from the 2001 album Amnesiac and, perhaps more surprisingly, “Myxomatosis” from 2005’s Hail to the Thief, which was a personal highlight. Even 2000’s Kid A got a shout with a slightly more uptempo performance of “Everything In Its Right Place” and “Idioteque.”

The second of the Radiohead’s two encores surprised everyone. For a band that always tries to stay ahead of the curve and is reticent to play many songs from their past, hearing “Karma Police” from 1997’s OK Computer was an unforeseen nod to their history, while their closing song — a stripped down performance of “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” from 1995’s The Bends — simply stunned the crowd.

Admittedly, not everyone likes Radiohead’s music and the band’s penchant for experimentation, electronic instrumentation and sometimes dark lyrics. But I feel like their show would have appealed greatly to even an unseasoned listener, who still could appreciate the skill that goes into making Radiohead what they are.

And as for the fans like me who have listened to the band for years and years?

It was nothing short of amazing.

Evaluation: Strong Sat

Full setlist available here.

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