Radiohead completed their two evening run at the Prudential Center in New Jersey this past Friday evening. For me, it was a first. I had grown up only knowing a small bit of what they were all about through some friends and from what was aired on the radio but never found myself at one of their shows. I left the venue with a MUCH better understanding of it all.
They are one of the best live acts around.
There are many artists out there whose fans say that everyone needs to see them at least once in their lives, whether they like the albums or not. Radiohead most certainly falls into this category. They have spent the past 20 years or so winning over the hearts of their fans from all over the world with their many talents and elaborate compositions.
Canada’s own Caribou is sharing the road and stage in support of Radiohead throughout the duration of this tour. Both bands go international at the end of this summer and throughout the fall. Unfortunately, because I have never won a battle with NYC traffic on a Friday evening, I was unable to catch the opening set. There were others there I spoke with who were in the same boat. And for those that made it in time, plenty commented at how great they sounded. I think an 8:30p start time for any show within and outward of two hours from NYC is mandatory from here on out. Who is with me?!
All of us photographers were escorted into the pit just as the last instrument was set in place by the stagehands for the main act. The fans in the front were wide-eyed and anxiously awaiting the beginning. Little did they know, but the band was about lay it all out for all of us for nearly the next three hours. Their show included a full first set followed by two energy-soaked encores.
The set design was magnificent. There were 12 large LCD screens that danced around in front of a two story high LCD back drop; they moved about just as much as the band did. The design of it all was complete with the artistically obscure video footage; zooming in on Ed O’Brien’s hand as he shreds the guitar or capturing Johnny Greenwood’s facial gestures as he bangs on his snare drum. The performance was quite literally a live documentary, if that makes any sense. The screens added an element to the show that gave the entire audience the ability to witness those smaller moments that usually only the fans really close get to see.
As mentioned, prior to this evening, my Radiohead experience had been nothing more than randomly hearing some of their hits on the radio as well as listening to a few mixes that were sent to me by friends to prep me for this show in particular. One thing that translates wonderfully from the albums to the stage is the beautiful vocals by Thom York. I am not sure what it was that kept me from diving deeper into this band. Their individual talents when combined are unmatched. Each artist just as strong as the one next to them. They don’t have “a sound” that you can compare to anything or anyone else.
The thing about live music, or any kind of music for that matter, is that no matter what the artist is intending to emit, the audience has the ability to hear it and feel it in whatever way that they want. Some were just standing starring in awe just swaying their head back and forth. Some were dancing till their clothes were soaked through with sweat.
And almost everyone was ready for more even as it came to an end…
Here are some of my photos from the show: