What a difference 4 years makes! When we saw Radiohead at the same venue in 2008, I enjoyed the show, but the fact that some folks kept getting up from their seats and coming back during their set, the fact that it took us an hour to get out of the parking lot and the muggier weather made it hard to enjoy the show. Moreover, they seemed more tentative than I’d ever seen them as a live band, almost cautiously mixing then new-ish material from 2008’s In Rainbows with older material.
On this night, though, all the stars aligned perfectly. Though the set was heavily weighted towards material from In Rainbows and in particular last year’s The King of Limbs, it was reassuring that the versions of Limbs songs like “Codex,” “Lotus Flower” and “Little by Little” simply steamrolled the much more electronic-tinged versions on the record. This was the Radiohead of the 2001 Amnesiac tour and the 2003 tour for Hail to the Thief (if not the earlier, triumphant shows I saw at Hammerstein Ballroom and Radio City Music Hall in support of OK Computer, the latter with Spiritualized opening; yow!), turning insular, jotty compositions into jaw-droppingly tight and powerful arena rock and it was a thrill to have them back!
Though the show was weighted heavily towards their more recent material (with the new “Staircase” also included in the set), they did strike a good balance between songs from OK Computer (“Lucky” and a slightly rearranged “Paranoid Android”), Kid A (epic encore “Everything in Its Right Place” with the “True Love Waits” introduction along with a banging “Idioteque”) and the aforementioned Amnesiac (“I Might Be Wrong” and a nice piano-led version of “Like Spinning Plates” that sounded just like the version on I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings) and Hail to the Thief (“There There”) as well while ignoring their 1st 2 albums altogether.
Furthermore, the weather was perfect, the view of the Philadelphia skyline was nice, and we even get out of the parking lot quickly! We did, however, get there too late to catch most of openers Caribou (who we saw last at Johnny Brenda’s back in 2008). While we weren’t fans of their last effort (Swim), the one song we did hear (an extended version of that album’s “Sun”) sounded fantastic and like the headliners’ more recent work, better live than on record.