Gig Report: Radiohead Show off Signature Eccentricity in Cincinnati
The British alternative act brought the occasional rarity and a solid 25-song set as part of their ‘Moon Shaped Pool’ tour
It was their first stop in Cincinnati since 2012, but British experimental/alternative rock pioneers Radiohead weren’t ones to stand on ceremony. Thom Yorke and co skipped through all the pleasantries (apart from a “Good evening” after their second song) performing at the U.S. Bank Arena on July 25th, with over two and a half hours of moody, multi-layered songs.
Preceding that titan-level performance was a 30-minute set by Radiohead’s current favorites – Israeli composer-guitarist Shye Ben Tzur and folk collective The Rajasthan Express, joined by Jonny Greenwood on guitars, bass and production. The Rajasthani folk exuberance that thundered through the arena (which was still filling up) caught a few ears interested and many feet tapping, for powerful vocals on songs off their album Junun and folk standards like “Mast Kalandar.”
It was, understandably, a stark difference from what Radiohead were about to launch into over the evening. With a starstruck production level that relayed hashed up live video and a bazillion lights, Radiohead made sure all eyes were on the stage. It helped that the aural presentation was just as striking as ever. Starting with the wistful “Daydreaming,” Radiohead seemed bent on subverting all notions about an arena-filling show – right from the choice of a not-so-rousing opening track to changing up the mood more and more, diving deep into songs off albums such as Hail To the Thief and Kid A. Strewn across their main set and two encores were live rarities like “A Wolf at the Door” and moodier numbers such as “The Gloaming,” “Myxomatosis” and “2 + 2 = 5.”
Off Kid A, they brought in amped-up popular ones like “The National Anthem,” “Everything In Its Right Place,” and “Idioteque,” among others. The number of changes on stage rotated like clockwork, and not just guitars – from xylophones to synth boards and more. The hugely popular In Rainbows, people waited on songs like “All I Need,” “Reckoner” and “Videotape.” Their second encore featured “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” which found its place amongst songs like “No Surprises,” and “Karma Police” as the sing-along portions.
Through 25 songs, Radiohead showed very little signs of fatigue – Yorke danced his way through many a song, especially on the meme-worthy “Lotus Flower” – but perhaps practiced a sort of detachment. There was no “How are you tonight Cincinnati?” or even “It’s great to be here,” but by the time they got to “Karma Police,” Yorke did deliver a short note of thanks to people who had traveled far and wide to see them. For a band as historically unconventional as Radiohead, this was heartwarming.
Radiohead live at U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio – July 25th, 2018
“Desert Island Disk”
“2 + 2 = 5”
“All I Need”
“Everything in Its Right Place”
“The National Anthem”
“A Wolf at the Door”
“How to Disappear Completely”
“Talk Show Host”