In Rainbows

Radiohead tripped out Saturday, May 17

Thom Yorke's the little one in the middle.
Thom Yorke's the little one in the middle.

Official estimates peg the Woodlands’ Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion in Houston at a capacity of 16,500, and at the Radiohead show Saturday night, they were all there with friends. The steeply pitched grass outfield was a sea of fans, many of whom had traveled long distances to see Britain’s best at the sold-out show, and after a short opening set by Liars, we were treated to the best concert money can buy.

It was a monumental experience exasperated by the energy-efficient tubular LED light show put on from the stage. If ever there were doubt that Radiohead could pull off their studio masterpieces live, it was shattered. Thom Yorke trotted in place like a wind-up drummer boy, elbows flailing, knees held high. BBC composer-in-residence and guitarist Johnny Greenwood spent as much time with his back to the audience, hunched over mammoth machinery, as he did grinning. And Ed O’Brien stood lanky over Yorke in jacket and tie. Big brother Colin Greenwood (bass) and Phil Selway (drums) might not have played front and center, but they were the ones that put the magic in the night.

Under a blanket of clear, crisp, cool moonlight, Radiohead erupted with In Rainbows opener “15 Step” and proceeded to fly off the handle. The lighted tubes, strewn like stalactites around the stage, shuddered in blues, yellows, and pinks, a rainbow of color climaxing in tune and further amping up the ecstatic crowd. Amps echoed the house of the rising sun, decked out in yellows and reds. Prismatic in sound and view.

After teasing Kid Rock and blasting through OK Computer’s “Lucky,” Amnesiac’s “Pyramid Song,” and In Rainbow tearjerker No. 1, “Videotape” (the second being “House of Cards”), Yorke made his first intro of the night for Kid A:

“Back in England, they thought we had lost it,” he said. “We thought that was the point.” “Optimistic” was followed by a generous ramp-up. The light show became epileptic as Hail to the Thief made an appearance, closing out the main set with “There There.” That was only the beginning.

Two full hours after the show began, all of In Rainbows had been put to bed, and a full-blown acid trip peaked with Kid A’s spastic “Idioteque.” Not to be melodramatic, but it was the perfect way for this band of multitalented, multigenre ambassadors to go out – nothing too new, just a little bit of brilliance to go home with. All told, every Radiohead album but debut Pablo Honey came to the show, some upfront and some tucked in. Whether OK Computer was your first mindfuck or Kid A taught you what could be done with music, everyone went away smiling. I can now die happy. And I won’t even say, “If only they had played ‘Creep.’” A girl’s gotta be realistic.

Two tickets to a sold-out show: $140
One concert T-shirt made of recycled plastic bottles: $40
Finally seeing one of the best bands of all time: Fucking priceless

May 17 set list:

1) “15 Step”
2) “Bodysnatchers”
3) “Lucky”
4) “Morning Bell”
5) “Nude”
6) “Pyramid Song”
7) “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi”
8) “The Gloaming”
9) “National Anthem”
10) “Faust Arp”
11) “Videotape”
12) “Optimistic”
13) “Where I End and You Begin”
14) “Reckoner”
15) “Everything in Its Right Place”
16) “All I Need”
17) “There There”

Encore No. 1
18) “Jigsaw Falling Into Place”
19) “House of Cards”
20) “Climbing Up the Walls”
21) “Planet Telex”
22) “Street Spirit (Fade Out)”

Encore No. 2
23) “You and Whose Army?”
24) “Idioteque”

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Radiohead, In Rainbows, Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

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