Exposing fans (who have most likely waited three or four years to see them) to long walks, huge throngs of people and humid, 90 degree-weather, Radiohead”s recent tour in support of their late spring release Amnesiac could have seemed like punishment to their young, techno-savvy crowd.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of EMD/Capitol

It is easy to see the following that pushed the band”s recent releases, Kid A and Amnesiac, to Nos. 1 and 2 respectively their first week out. The evidence lies in sold-out venues such as the Blossom Music Center, seating nearly 15,000 people. Due to traffic problems many people, including this reviewer, missed the first two acts.

The Oxford lads managed to do a semi-decent job of roping in the large crowd, growing larger as people managed to get through the traffic mess. Radiohead played a 23-song set, lasting nearly two hours, comprised of selections from the band”s last three albums, leaving Pablo Honey fans disappointed. Those wishing to hear a new cut or two from the band were also let down.

The largest problem the band faced was that attendees were upset by the massive nature of the concert and the lack of intimacy that comes with playing to such large audiences.

The band did a superb job of what they were paid to do: Play their songs. Each person in the band put their heart and soul into each song, from Thom Yorke”s frantic stage presence, to every other member”s wild playing.

Radiohead played themselves to the point of exhaustion, evident in the brooding, dying feeling of their final offering, “Exit Music (Fade Out).” Fans didn”t realize how much the group exerted themselves not because Radiohead did a poor job of communicating musically, but because they were hindered by the nature of playing to such a large crowd the festival syndrome.

Aside from the random variables of parking and venue, the concert was a great show from the group. It is too bad that these factors ruined the enjoyment of what was a truly great experience for many.

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