Nobody gets the fans like Radiohead. These guys realize that it’s a new game, the old models are dead and they are doing everything they can to construct new ones. Witness Radiohead – Live in Praha.
A group of 50 people took Flip cameras to the show last August and pooled all their video for a multi-camera concert DVD. This is not uncommon. I now have fan-made U2 DVD’s of nearly ever show I’ve been to. What is incredible is that the band saw it and liked it so much that they sent the creators the soundboard audio. Free of charge. All you have to do is log on, download, burn to a DVD and relive that awesome late summer evening.
Now I don’t care if you like Radiohead or even know who they are, you have to admit, that’s a cool move. Wouldn’t you like a video documentary of every show you’ve seen – just like it sounded when you were there?
Radiohead gets it. It would be wise of a sickly music industry to take notice. There’s a business model in here somewhere. It’s called giving ’em what they want.
On Sunday night, Radiohead proved that it has mastered the art of crescendo. From start to finish, the concert behind Prague’s Stromovka Park was a long arc of building tension followed by cathartic release. Within the songs themselves and throughout the set-list, the band harnessed the roller coaster inertia of the rise and fall.
It was a gorgeous night to be out in the park drinking 40 Crown beer (with a 50 crown deposit for the cup) on a dusty, fairly treeless section of land just behind the Prague Expo Center’s dancing fountains (turned off for the occasion). An odd location to be sure but one that suited the misfit nature of Radiohead’s music. The selection of songs was a fan’s dream. The band dove deep into its extensive catalog and pulled out gems like “Pyramid Song” and b-side/disc 2er “Bangers and Mash.” However, much of the show focused on songs from Radiohead’s 2007 release, In Rainbows. Even though the album is two years old, the songs crackled with energy and formed the skeletal structure of the show.
The vocals were spot on; the playing was sharp and tight. Still, it seemed like I was watching a band on the verge of destruction. This was my first Radiohead show, maybe they all seem like that but I couldn’t help but think that this was a band that was desperately looking for a new set of challenges. The inclusion of the new tune, “These Are My Twisted Words” did not help matters. It was the low point of the show as the tune itself is meandering and in search of a hook, a chorus and a verse. The song was an exception to an otherwise engrossing performance.
Throughout the show, lead singer, Thom Yorke, was mum except for dedicating “Pyramid Song” (?) to Franz Kafka. The musicianship was tight for a band that had been off the road for months but there was a definite tension. Like I said, maybe all of their shows are like this. After all, “joyous” is not a word that comes to mind when thinking of Radiohead.
However, “cathartic” is a word that can be used to describe their music and by the end of the set, “Everything in its Right Place” provided the perfect mix of electronics and musicianship to wrap up a dense and powerful show. It was a gorgeous August night in Prague and Radiohead lent the evening its soundtrack, projecting it’s damaged beauty all through the woods of Stromovka park. At least for that night, everything was indeed in its right place.
As if I wasn’t excited enough, I heard about 10 seconds of what sounded like “Weird Fishes” being soundchecked this morning. I was out tidying up the balcony and heard the rumblings back in the park. Sounded excellent – even if it may have only been the roadies. I hope the show lives up to my high expectations.
It’s a great day for a concert – 75 and SUNNY!
UPDATE: My review of the show is here.
The metro stations of Prague are sporting a strange, homogeneous look these days. Well, at least the ad space is. It’s draped in an almost industrial, lava lamp-like ad for the coming invasion of space rockers, Radiohead.
The band is playing at Stromovka Park later this month. The front section of tickets appears to be sold out and I’m pretty excited to see them. I’m a new convert to the Radiohead camp and I think that seeing them live will either cement them as of of the best bands in the world or something short of that mark. You could say I’m expecting pretty big things.
I’ll let you know if they deliver.
I saw that Radiohead would be coming to Prague via Pitchfork today and within minutes I had two tickets purchased, printed and in my fat little hands. I just got into the band about this time last year after years of putting them off. I finally took the plunge after our daughter had neared the 1 year mark and I had time to actually get into them. You see, they’re not a band to be taken lightly. They’re highly prolific, know the value of a good b-side, and just make you want to own everything. Well, I own most everything I’ve been able to find in Prague but had yet to see them live. Now, the opportunity has presented itself and I couldn’t be happier. Now, if those U2 tickets would finally get here. . .