Saturday, April 7, 2012

After years of waiting........

The Great RH Road Trip:  The Concert

"Before you run away from me
Before you're lost between the notes
Just as you take the mic
Just as you dance, dance, dance"

-Jigsaw Falling Into Place          

Photo by dai on w.a.s.t.e

I would like to dedicate this post to Megan, Alex, and Sean*.  It's because of you guys so many years ago that I found myself at Arena on March 15th 2012, experiencing one of the greatest nights of my life.   Thanks so much I owe you all a huge debt of gratitude for suggesting a band to me, knowing I might like them.  What do you know?  I did.

*there was a fourth, but I can't remember his name for the life of me.

Phone call at 12:30pm on Thursday (concert day),  Rob: "I can't believe I was able to wait so long to call you today, I've been thinking about you all day and have been so excited.  It isn't every day that someone's dream comes true."

I've been having a hard time trying to figure out how to write this post.  I've been feeling a lot of pressure from myself to make it deserving of the concert.  I need to let that go and just write.  (It usually works out fine when I do that.)  How to start though?  I think the bulk of it will be the setlist and my thoughts during the particular songs, but first some random overall things:

-Looking over the setlists from the King of Limb's tour, I honestly can say that the Glendale, Arizona Setlist is the one I would have hand picked if I could choose. (RH gods gift #4)  In fact, the other concert I very nearly went to was the one in Denver and that is my least favorite setlist so far (phew).   There were songs on the tour that I would have LOVED to hear (You and Whose Army?, Karma Police and Seperator come to mind) Oh, and Meeting in the Aisle (a B side that goes back a long ways, but had never been played live before this tour.  It is an instrumental and so fantastically awesome.  I LOVE LOVE watching videos of them playing it.  The good thing is- I love watching videos of them playing it, so that will do) and hey, 1. I can't think of any song I would have dropped in their place and 2.  You've got to save something for next time right?

-I dislike Ed's current haircut (it's really 80's new wave) and on my concert night, he was wearing a bowler hat, just for me I like to think.  RH gods gift #5 (soooooo petty I know, but kind of awesome nonetheless how much the RH gods were catering to me huh?  I must have been a good girl this year).
 Photo by Aye Mel on w.a.s.t.e

-Colin was so dang cute I couldn't believe it.  He was so excited and so smiley and funny back there on bass I watched him waaaay more then I ever would have thought.  He won me over that night, and I was already a fan- he is the best interviewer when it comes to the band and he just seems like a friendly guy.  Marcus and I kept yelling to each other about how cute he was.   
 Photo by dai on w.a.s.t.e

-Jonny looked like he could have done his taxes while he was playing his guitar (in a good way).  I was blown away by how that guy can play like the guitar is absolute second nature to him.  He makes it look unbelievably easy and I know it's not and he is doing a million things to make the songs sound the way they do.
photo by dai on w.a.s.t.e
 photo by arico on w.a.s.t.e

-I loved watching Ed sing back up vocals.  I know he is the voice that does the backups, but watching and hearing him live was quite another story.

-I now know where Thom is the most natural and at ease:  performing for his fans.  He was amazingly relaxed and loose and you could tell he was happy and was totally enjoying himself.  It brought joy to my heart knowing he was so happy up there.  Cheesy, yes- but you know what?  He hasn't always been and as a fan, it means a lot to me to see him in a place where he obviously is enjoying it.  He loves his fans- that was very apparent.  Miley Cyrus can suck it.

-A few songs in, Matt points at him and goes, "look at how little his legs are!"  He really is a small guy and had his pant's cuffed which made him look even littler.  It was so cute.  I wanted to take him home in my pocket.

- I thought I knew this before, but I had no idea.  That man can DANCE.  He was all over the stage the whole night.  The music is in him and it pours out through dance in a very primal way and it was an experience in itself to see it  happen before your eyes.

-Hmmm.  I didn't mention Phil.  As Scout would say, "awkward!"  I'm sorry Phil, you just play your drums like a master all the way back there and kind of get lost.  Here is a pic though:
 Photo by inez on w.a.s.t.e

I'm pretty sure that's Phil..............he and Clive look so much alike dang it!

I should also mention that they had an extra drummer for the tour.  He is Cliver Deamer and is the drummer for Portishead.  They needed another drummer to play the TKOL's stuff live, otherwise they would have needed a drum machine.

Alright, let's get started:

They walked on stage, they were there.  Smiling and waving.  THEY WERE THERE!   They picked up their instruments and started playing their first song.  This is the opening song of The King of Limbs and they have started every concert this tour with this song.  "Open your mouth wide, a universal sigh"  was the first lyric I heard of the night.  Fantastic.  I am afraid I spent much of the song screaming and pointing at either Thom or Jonny and just yelling the word, "look!"  That's about all I could do for a few minutes.  For the tour they have this backdrop of 14,400 recycled water bottles with an led light in the rim and the light show this creates is amazing and hypnotic.  THEN, as this song continued, 12 monitors floated down and positioned themselves, hovering and moving around.  They were a mash up of faces and hands strumming guitars and were constantly changing.  It was so phenomenal and artistic it was hard to get over.  It wasn't just straight from the camera shots either, they had a wash like feeling about them that blew my mind. 
photo by Dan on pasificlectic

photo by arico on w.a.s.t.e
This song and the whole ball of wax and what this meant was just senses overload.  And the night had just begun.

During this song I started smelling weed being smoked nearby, but thought little of it (set up).

15 Step
Still in a fan freak-out fog here.  Great dancing song.  Very up beat and fun- it's the opening song on In Rainbows.  More screaming, pointing and yelling LOOK!, but also finding a great joy in just watching Thom do his thing.  He had a charisma I didn't know he had.  I thought I would be watching Jonny all night in awe, but watching Thom during this song I figured out that was not quite going be the case. The guy in front of me was hunkered down a little at one point during this song and I was taking advantage of him not in my way and was leaning forward a little, noticing that the weed smell was very strong and turned my head to Matt and said, "that's close" and while I said it, a huge puff of smoke raised from the hunching guy and surrounded my face.  Yeah- I'd say it was close- I'm a genius.

Another album opener (theme?).  But this time it was from my very first RH album I ever had- OK Computer.  With the first strum of this song, well- my computer was not OK.  This is the part of the concert where it all hit me and the reality of where I was and what I was doing over came me and I blipped out.  eeee...short circut...eeee.   I turned around and hugged Matt and my feet left the ground and I breathed.  Then when I came down I spluttered a bunch of nonsense sentences to him.  For one thing, I absolutely adore the song in it's own right.  It's a fantastic song.  When it plays though, (and I actually explained this in the car on the way out to Arizona) there is this moment I have in the opening riff when I get this happy tingle in my soul that OK Computer is starting and I get to listen to it.    Do you know that feeling?  It never fails to bring back the hours I spent in New York alone listening to it and discovering it.  It is special to me in a Radiohead sacred kind of way, and hearing them play it so early in the set was perhaps too much for my mental computer to compute.  "That moment" happening in the concert was probably inevitable though, so I may as well get it over with.  At the end of the song, all of a sudden Jonny just rips through the opening riff again super loud and weed guy and me spontaneously turned to each other and go "no way!"  I said that actually, he said "what???!!"  Then we did this little hug thing in excitement. 
That is the end of weed boy saga- we never acknowledged each other again.  (One thing I just loved about that night- perfect strangers just so deliriously happy we were all close and best friends, didn't care who each other were, just knowing that the guy next to you was likely to be experiencing a perfect moment just like you.  Cause they get it.)

Little by Little
A song from TKOL, one of my favorites actually.  Great lyrics.  Thom confused the order of the two little by little verses at the beginning.  Not sure how many people noticed- I did.  He didn't skip a beat and just sang then in reverse order and said nothing about it.  Awesome.  

I remember this one as being particularly awesome lighting wise and dancing wise.  I am convinced that Thom really enjoys performing this song.   It's a fan favorite from Hail to the Thief. 

The Gloaming
Another song from Hail to the Thief, it is a really hypnotic song and Thom drove that feeling further with his arm movements and the lighting display.  It was about as other worldly as it got in that room that night.  The beat is amazing and the lyrics are about the witching hour (the gloaming is another word for twilight time) and he sings about genies being let out of the bottle and the song culminates into the repeating lines, "your alarm bells, your alarm bells, they should be ringing they should be ringing........"  the led lights were blinking down like rain.  Intense and awesome.

Morning Mr. Magpie
My most vivid memory of this TKOL's song was the bridge part.  I marveled about how amazing these songs sound live and how different an experience they are in an arena then they are on your ipod.  The bridge was something I never gave a second thought to, now I can't wait for that part of the song when it plays cause it's BRILLIANT.

Pyramid Song
This is one of the most beautiful poetic songs in their collection.  It also brings with it an iconic image of Jonny turning his guitar around like a cello and playing it with a bow at the beginning.  Thom is on piano.  It's an image all RH fans know and love.  Loved being there for that.  Being so close to Jonny I could watch his fingers slide around the neck of his guitar and hear the strange sounds they produced with each movement.  Studying it made me feel like I was alone in a museum or something and able to really examine it for myself.  The arena and the people around me disappeared for a few minutes.  I pulled out the camera for a minute during that time- as you saw.

The Daily Mail
While Thom was at the piano, he might as well do this song.  It is no secret this is one of my current favorites.  I think it is one of the best songs they've written in years (it was released as a single after TKOLs came out).  Knew they'd play it-- so glad they did, it was magic.

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi
An In Rainbows favorite for me, and was another example of how much better these songs can be live.  Particularly the last two albums.  They were made to be played live.  The arena wakes them up somehow and who knew they were sleeping?

Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box
Thom proceeded this song with the words "and now for a little experiment".  I was like,  "what???  A new song?  What does he mean by that?  Is he going to totally work over and change an old song?"  Then the familiar beat of Packt hit the air and the crowd exploded.  This is another opening song to an album- this time Amnesiac.  I knew enough to know that they hadn't played this song yet on tour, so that is when I figured what he meant by "experiment".  I found out later that they hadn't played that song since 2001 (during the Amnesiac tour), so he probably meant- lets see what happens if we dust the cobwebs off this little number.  It's a fantastic song with a million little sounds happening all the time.  So fun to be there for that.  I loved it!

This song debuted on this tour, and was written in January during rehearsals for the tour.  I was in love with first listen when I saw a video of it after the first concert in Miami.  I had watched that video enough to know the words.  Thom proceeded this song with a little speech about how the new material is why they do this (touring) and that looking forward is better then looking back, but looking back is ok too (he botched that last bit and declared that he was just going to shut up now).  He mentioned that this song is one of his very favorites.  I was happy cause it's one of my favorite's too.  This song was my first of two moments where I believe Thom and I had a moment.  There is a part of the song that is repeated that says, "now I see you messing me around- I don't want to know, I don't want to know".  During the last few sets of that line for the song, he happened to walk right exactly in front of where I was standing and was crouching a little and singing it to us.  I was the only one in the vicinity that was interacting with him with the song (I was singing it back to him and shaking my finger) and I swear he was focused on me for a moment or two.  Everyone else was just screaming or standing there. 

Lotus Flower
Perhaps the most famous song of TKOLs, special thanks to that crazy video of Thom dancing to it.  He didn't pull any punches dancing to it that night either, all the while dancing around the stage with three full size maracas in one hand.  Matt and I pointed this out and giggled.  One or two just must not have been enough.  I was starting to be able to figure out his favorite parts of certain songs.  He would just suddenly come alive for a few minutes and totally lose himself in the beat.  It just looked like there was this happy release in his brain when those parts would show up and he celebrated.

There There
Another iconic RH moment.  This songs starts off with the whole band except Thom and Colin on drums.  What an image.  Sooooo glad I got to see that too!  I didn't have a very long wish list, only 3 or so songs- I tried not to have one at all, but couldn't kid myself that one didn't exist.  This song was on that short list- just for all the drumming.  I think it is such a cool idea.  I couldn't believe my luck on the songs they were choosing for our show.  It was unbelievable- I felt like they were putting on a show for me.  Later, watching videos of this song, it was funny to watch Ed, he broke like 5 drum sticks throughout the song and at the end broke his second to last one, so he turned it around (without missing a beat) and played it with the handle until he broke that, then threw it on the ground and had to play the last few beats with just one.  He obviously breaks them pretty frequently since he had a collection of back ups, but I wonder how often he breaks them all?  Jonny played with four- two in each hand.  He finishes the song on guitar and it knocks me out.

My least favorite song from TKOLs.  But is many a fan's favorite.  It is a fine song, but a little more dance clubesque, and kind of interrupts the album for me.  I'd like it better out of context, just played randomly in a mix.  Anyway, watching it live definitely endeared it to me and made me appreciate it more.  I think I get it a little better now and loved watching Thom on the sound mixer and the weird microphone.  I would love to watch him DJ sometime.

Hearing this song start was exciting for me twofold.  First of all, it is my favorite Kid A song.  It is so brilliant.  But that aside, it meant much more to me hearing it.  You see, they have been closing all the concerts lately with one of two songs- Idioteque and Paranoid Android.  It is important for you all to know that it has been a 12 year long dream for me to hear Paranoid Android live.  That song has a certain quality to it that begs to be played live.  It is a song I need to admit that if they hadn't played it that night, I would have walked away with a twinge of regret.  There isn't any song they have that I could say the same for, not one.  So, hearing this song start told me that I had a very very good chance I was going to hear P A that night.  Oh and by the way, they SHREDDED Idioteque.  I remember a moment when I was watching Thom dance and sing his guts out and thinking, "how in the world does this guy keep this up?"  I was standing there with a pain that traveled from my neck all the way down the left side of my body to the heel of my foot.  I hadn't even thought of fainting since they walked on stage, but I couldn't deny the pain signals my body was screaming at me by this time of the night (don't you think it factored into ANYTHING or slowed me down for a second or anything like that.......but it was there).  Thom put me to shame.

Encore 1:

How to Disappear Completely
This is a fan favorite.  It is a haunting, from the guts song on Kid A and really speaks to some people.  It doesn't speak to me like that, but I love it anyway.  It's a slow ballad, so the arena quieted down and soaked it in.  Marcus had told me earlier that it is the song that hooked him and turned him into a fan (his first album was Kid A).  During the song, I had to hunt him down and give him a happy pat on the back, knowing that this must be a particularly moving and awesome moment for him.

Kid A
Not much to say about this one.  Obviously from Kid A (completing a set of three songs from that album- cool for sure).  This is like most Kid A songs- a treat of sounds that sound amazing together the more and more times you listen to them.

The only song of the night that almost drew tears (hey- I was surprised as anyone that I didn't bawl like a baby several times during the night) for some reason, this experience didn't elicit tears.  Who knew?  Anyway, this song has always been a favorite of mine and then to my surprise, it ended up being Rob's favorite RH song.  So it was special and sad to me to hear them sing this without my zing beside me.  It would have knocked his socks off.  It was epic.  I loooooove the lyrics and almost inexplicably has one of my most favorite lyrics in any of their songs.  I say inexplicably because I am not sure what it is about it that I love so much, I just do and that is going to have to be enough of an explanation.  "Kill me Sarah, kill me again- with love".  It's a simple lyric and perhaps not on anyone else's radar, but it's always been on the forefront of mine.  Like I said- you never know sometimes what is going to affect you and how.  This song also holds one of the most memorable times of the night for me.  The last few minutes when most of the lyrics have been sung- there is some riveting guitar at play.  Seeing it live- Ed, Thom and Jonny lined up next to each other, each wailing their guitars together to combine to make that amazing moment of the song that will be burned into my memory forever and be thought of often.  Matt said that at the Pixie's concert he would take a moment he liked and make a mental note to remember it cause it was awesome, and it worked.  I did that here and so far, it was remained memorable and vivid.  Thanks for the tip Matt.

This song before the concert was probably at the bottom 3 songs in my mind from In Rainbows.  Not anymore.  Remember how I said that some songs played live are much better?  Well, this is the prime example of that phenomenon- this song was transformed, but not real different from the studio version at the same time.  This song was so much fun and so fantastic.  I've watched videos of it and they don't capture the magic I felt that night.  But listening to it does a pretty good job.  Matt even turned to me at one point in the song and asked, "what song is this?"  I know he felt it too.

Encore 2:

Give Up the Ghost
The only ones that came on stage for this song after the encore applause was Thom and Jonny.  I knew we were about to get one of those intimate Thom and Jonny acoustic moments and how sweet it was.  Thom dedicated the song on behalf of the band to their families who they miss, but get to see soon cause they have a 3 week break after this concert.  This is one of my very favorite songs from TKOL.  It is seriously beautiful, they didn't play my other two favorites, so that made this one extra special.  Funny moment:  RIGHT before they started it I breathed out pretty quietly, "this is going to be so good" and the guy in front of me surprisingly heard me, turned around and silently nodded, affirming my prediction.  Wow, it was too.  I was not mistaken.

A very favorite song of mine from In Rainbows, but I found this performance a tad off.  For some reason I didn't love the minor changes they did to it.  I mean- it was still AMAZING, but if I am to say anything slightly negative, it is that this song just didn't really do it for me that night like I'd think it would.  I have no explanation for that.  Still enjoyed it with all my heart though, don't get me wrong.

Paranoid Android
Thom thanked us very very sincerely for coming, it almost made me cry again.  He really meant it.  Then he said, "with love from us, this is Paranoid Android".  He was talking directly to me.  He closed the night with the Radiohead gods whispering in his ear of the last gift of the night for Emily and he obeyed.  It was everything it could be.  It was epic, every second of it was a monument to my personal fanhood.  It was my apex.  In the middle of it, Matt said, "come on!" I grabbed his arm and we went up and over to Thom.  We pushed through the crowd and were finally stopped by fans that did not want us to move.  Didn't care at this point.  We were going to have our moment (ironically, by stopping us, they stopped two taller then average people to stand the remaining time right in front of them)  hope they didn't  regret that too much- heehee.  Oh, that stopping was actually THE final RH god gift- somehow, we found ourselves with a sea of really short people in front of us.  And we were close to the stage at this point and RIGHT in front of Thom and this would bring about my second and final Thom moment of the night.  He looked at us and seemed to say (in Matt's words later), "who are these tall freaks that just appeared right in front of me?"  He TOTALLY noticed us.  It was during the end of the part of the song with the rain down rain down where the audience does the groaning part while Thom sings about the panic and the vomit.  Won't ever EVER forget that and thanks Matt, I never would have thought of doing that and it created a memory I will always look back on very fondly.  God loves his children, God loves his children YEAH!!!!!!!!

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫

Well, that is that I guess.  What a night.  An experience that will always be super, super special to me.  I think we got an extra good show that night.  I am sure they are all good, but there was a special feeling in the air that night, coming from the fans and the band.  I think going to the last concert of the first leg of the tour was a GREAT thing to do, mostly because I think the band had a certain level of excitement knowing that they were flying home for a few weeks.  I think it gave Thom an extra spring in his step.  And gave them all a little feeling of wanting to make it special and perhaps some renewed energy.  It could have gone the other way, with their heads already half home and them just phoning in this last concert.  The RH gods would never had let that happen though.

more overall observations:

-Jonny disappeared for halves of songs sometimes and Matt and I wondered where he went.  We were able to find out from B later what he was doing.  He had more equipment back there, and was just out of our sight, shaking maraca things and what not.

-I was so impressed by these guys.  Seriously.  I know you're saying duh right now, but it is so cool to go to a concert and watch REAL musicians.  Talented doesn't even cover it.  They are polished, they are professional, perfectionists, innovators and are at the top of the game.   They do a lot of looping and there are a million instruments and sounds that go into every song and they do it all on stage when they could easily play much of it on tracks for a show.  Instead, you can stand there and watch each band member (especially Jonny, Ed and Thom, but they all do a million things) go from instrument to sound board, Jonny will create a loop at the beginning and play it through the song, turning it off and on when needed.  Ed will play the drums for a minute, switch to guitar, back up vocals, bang a tambourine, etc.  Thom sings lead, bangs a keyboard for a minute, shakes maracas (3 at a time sometimes) fiddle with a sound board to adjust a minor little thing that is off probably only to him (give Jonny silent directions about turning something up or down once in a while), etc.  It is enough to blow your mind.  It was so impressive to me that all those little sounds that happen in a RH song, happened right there on stage.  Maybe it shouldn't have, but it really did surprise me. It also really brings home the fact of how lame it is that some singers are so popular and famous and they don't play an instrument, write a song, and even their voice is enhanced to sound better.  I love to see real talent, the difference is mind blowing. 

And finally................Thanks to my two sisters, Cat and Sue that came down to AZ just to be with us and to watch my kids while I rocked and for wanting to be there to share the joy of this experience I had.  B, you were so super cool about everything about the concert and I'm glad you got a better seat, wish you were with us but I was impressed it didn't get you down that you weren't.  That would have been an awesome concert to sit back alone and experience in your head by yourself.  Sounds like you chatted it up yourself with some fans and that's awesome, hope they weren't snobby to you and respected the fact that you weren't a hard core fan and knew every song and the order in which they appear on the albums.  I hope you had fun and I won't ever forget the sacrifice you made so I could have my perfect concert by loaning your husband to me for a while.  Rob, you were so supportive of my going.  Sometimes I feel like you work hard so I can go have fun and spend money.  I hope you know I fully appreciate you and your attitude and I love that you understand my crazy obsession and support me.  I love you, my heart of hearts was sad you weren't at my side that night.  And lastly Matt, I was excited knowing you would be the one sharing this with me.  It meant a lot that you were there.  A LOT!  Perhaps more then you know.  Also, I kind of think you may have had something to do with our extraordinary luck that night. If memory serves, it seems like you have had some pretty crazy awesome luck in your concert life.  So thanks- love you.  LOVE ALL OF YOU! 

I'd also like to thank the Radiohead gods for acknowledging the sacrifices I have made through the years when it comes to Radiohead.  Thank you for seeing fit to bestow your many wonderful gifts upon this little ol' fan.

I was going to include the post concert things, but this post is PLENTY long enough, so......

To be continued........................................................

"After years of waiting
Nothing came
As your life flashed before your eyes
You realize"
- Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box



1 comment:

Emily said...

In a new interview with Clive Deamer (the extra drummer that is touring with RH for this tour), he was asked this question:

Radiohead is one of the few bands on earth right now where the shows are truly experiences, dumb as that sounds. People are so into the music, and the music is so heightened, and lucid, and multi-leveled. It's a holy thing. What's that like? Does it ever get old? Are there ever moments where you're like, "Oh my God, Thom Yorke is Mozart"?

It's true that there is something very moving when a large body of people come together with such heartfelt love of music, and when the music is this good it's impossible to not be moved by all those happy-spirited faces. However, Thom's always shaking his ass around the stage, so I soon remember where I am. I doubt Mozart did that, and Thom doesn't read music, so does that answer your question?

Love it.


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