Radiohead Dominates the Comcast Center

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By Jocelyn Cote
Reviews Editor

On May 29th, the Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA was abuzz for only the second time of the summer concert season. One of the most significant bands in the history of alternative rock, Radiohead, were set to kick off the third and final leg of their US tour to an enormous crowd of 20,000. Dedicated fans from across the country started waiting outside of the gates as early as 4 o’clock in the morning in order to secure a spot directly in front of the stage.

Often lauded by critics as one of the greatest bands of the past decade, Radiohead hail from Oxfordshire, England, and 2012 marks 20 years since the release of their debut EP, Drill, and their self-loathing single “Creep.”  The band released their eighth studio album The King of Limbs in February of last year, and have been touring in support of it since March. Following the three US legs, the tour will take them through Europe, Asia, and Australia as the year progresses.

Opening for Radiohead was Caribou, an electroinc outfit from Canada. Caribou has worked with the band for multiple remixes, so their announcement as opener for the remainder of the US tour did not come as a surprise to many fans. Although the venue still had many seats open during their set, their jarring 5-song set got everyone in the pit up and moving. Many were surprised and even disappointed at the brevity of their performance as a roar of applause erupted from the crowd as they departed.

Thom Yorke

The ascension of Radiohead’s crew onto the stage left an air of urgency over the arena. Those up front clung to their spot on the rail while fans in the lawn laid their blankets down as close to the edge of the area as possible. As the beginnings of dusk fell, the house lights went pitch black and the arena shook from the deafening uproar of 20,000 people.

Radiohead took the stage with “Bloom,” the opener of The King of Limbs, silhouetted against a wall of thousands of recycled plastic bottles outfitted with LED lights and twelve screens suspended from the ceiling. After hypnotizing the crowd with the dream-like quality of the stage, frontman Thom Yorke broke out his signature off-the-wall dance moves as they surged into “15 Step” to screams of delight, and spines shivered as guitarist Jonny Greenwood ripped through the jarring chords of “Airbag,” the opener of the band’s universally acclaimed album OK Computer.

The career-spanning main set consisted of mainly new numbers and fan-favorites. Highlights included the sludgy and upbeat “Myxomatosis,” new number “Identikit,” the magnificent “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” and percussion-heavy “There There.” The main set came to a close with a brain-melting rendition of the electronic powerhouse “Idioteque,” accompanied by a strobing light show that left the entire audience awestruck.

After returning to the stage for their first encore, the band played non-album single “Supercollider,” and later got the entire arena jumping with the thumping, bass-driven Kid A gem “The National Anthem.” The bone-chilling “Lucky” followed, and the first encore closed with “Everything In Its Right Place,” often considered by fans as one of the quintessential songs to be played at a Radiohead show.

Following another round of joyous applause, Yorke and Greenwood returned to the stage for the final time to play an acoustic rendition of “Give Up the Ghost.” The rest of the band joined them to close the show with two tracks from their 2007 album In Rainbows: the grating “Bodysnatchers” and the poetic fan-favorite “Reckoner.”

Light show during “Bodysnatchers”

Overall, Radiohead delivered an immense and breathtaking show that left everyone present with memories they would treasure for a lifetime. Although more casual listeners may have been distraught at the lack of many of the band’s big singles on the setlist, die-hard fans reveled in both the amount of new material and hidden gems the band brought to life onstage. Despite being their first show in over a month, Radiohead were still able to prove that they are still masters of their craft, as they have been for over two decades.

Author’s note: View more of my pictures from the show by checking out my Flickr set.