The last time Radiohead touched Swedish ground for a performance was in 2003, that’s 3 of the band’s albums ago. Back then they were touring with the Hail to The Thief – and the music from Kid A, their legendary album that revolutionised the rock n’ roll’s musical landscape forever, was still a fresh flavour in our mouths. During the time that has passed, Radiohead has become more conceptual and more introverted. But their sound, that sound you cannot really place in a single musical category because it just doesn’t fit in one, has stayed the same and at the same time refined itself with the years.
The Abingdon quintet have managed to produce a healthy collection of generational anthems for their fans in their over 30 years of existense, with such a vast repertoire of so heartily loved music many of us fans, myself included, anticipated a memorable concert when it was announce in late 2016 that Globen was added as a the band’s stopover in Stockholm on their tour.
Thom Yorke and co. don’t just have the ideas to pull off inventive music and great compositions. They are also outstanding musicians on stage and can reproduce their music with such precision, just as you heard it on the record. That is on the one hand impressive but also a little disappointing, since they didn’t add that little extra to the live versions of their songs.
But don’t take me wrong, Radiohead do deliver. They delighted the audience with hits like Paranoid Android, Idioteque, Exit Music (for a Film) Airbag, 15 Step and even classics from the 90’s we were all looking forward to hear, such as the fantastic Fake Plastic Trees. Though their all-time classic Creep was unquestionably and unfortunately left out of the night’s setlist. And even watching the army of technicians climbing to the stage in between songs to bring up Yorke‘s piano, then take it down to gear him with a guitar or a hand-held keyboard or his synth, see them also providing Jonny Greenwood with drums, a guitar a keyboard or a synth, was quite a show of precision in itself.
In the 2 hours of their show, we could observe that Yorke is a man of many words, which he keeps to his songs – but not much more than that was said, apart from greeting the “Good people of Sweden” as he addressed to the audience. He did take the time to talk about the parliamentary elections in Britain, as to make a point that these are really hectic times in the world. He said there is something we sometimes tend to loose and forget and that it now feels like is perhaps returning – and that is hope. After saying that they then performed the on-point The Daily Mail – a song about losing hope in the system and the lies from the government. Right after it they fit in Burn the Witch from their latest album. Both of these songs were sending a subtle message of criticism aimed at the corruption of the power and irrational fear that we’re injected with.
In general Radiohead saw through a pleased audience that were just content to have their favourite band in town again for the first time after over ten years of absence. Thom Yorke‘s beautiful voice was the same as everybody has loved ever since their debut with Pablo Honey. And Jonny Greenweod‘s genius had him at points performing on his knees. So with “no big surprises” the band closed the night with Karma Police, which raised the entire Globen right into climax. The public’s choir song became so loud that after the song was over, Thom Yorke took his guitar again and repeated the chorus so that the people could lose themselves singing along with him to the words of:
For a minute there
I lost myself, I lost myself
Phew, for a minute there
I lost myself, I lost myself
Let’s just hope the next break the band takes from Sweden doesn’t last as long and that they return with an even better show. And perhaps there will be a tour to mark the occasion of the release of OKNOTOK 1997-2017, a reissue to celebrate the 20 years of OK Computer and it will include the original 12-track album plus three unreleased tracks and eight B-sides (mostly the ones you’ll recognize from the Airbag / How Am I Driving? EP), all remastered from the original tapes.
Photo © Ana Karen Pérez Guzmán