As someone who rates The Bends as a good album, but never really knew what to make of Kid A, I was fairly dubious about this gig from the start. I had – as it seemed, as had everyone else at the gig – obtained a copy of Hail To The Thief from a friend of a friend, who’s cousin had downloaded it off the net. And yeah, I thought some of it was good, some of it less so, but basically by the time we had spent five or so hours travelling up to Edinburgh, I was ready to be suitably unimpressed. Edinburgh, it has to be said, provides the perfect backdrop for rock’s famous miserablists. Queuing outside the corn exchange it was cold, grey, and raining.
When Radiohead eventually took to the stage for their unsupported, one and a half hour set, it was clear from the opener – the current single There, There – that Thom Yorke was actually enjoying playing. Strange as it may seem, it appears even Radiohead are prepared to have fun every now and again.
They played their fair share of crowd pleasers, but this was no drab re-run through Radiohead’s back catalogue, old favourites slotted in comfortably between tracks from the new album. But this was a band undoubtedly enjoying playing to an ecstatic audience, and the volume of Americans and Japanese in the crowd was testament enough to Radiohead’s ridiculously hardcore following.
The highlight of the gig was undoubtedly Ideoteque, and Thom’s fantastically bizarre dance routine. Although Johnny Greenwood spent the entire gig hiding behind his fringe, and only occasionally glaring out at the crowd, even he permitted himself some rather comical improvisation on the piano during Karma Police, causing Thom to splutter with laughter into his mic – although the crowd sang along regardless.
There was no pretension here, no rock’n’roll antics; this was all about the music. I’d say, as someone who is not a Radiohead fan, that it was worth the trek from York, it was worth the twenty-five quid train fare; it was even worth having my two last bottles of Stella confiscated by some incomprehensible Scottish man-mountain of a security guard. Radiohead are a band that you have to see to understand.