• Mark Mathews

We need to talk about Radiohead


After their latest appearance (their third since 1997) at the Glastonbury Festival this year, I felt utterly compelled to write a blog about this band of five blokes from Oxford. Basically, I think we need to talk about Radiohead.

Or more so...I want to talk about Radiohead! So, er, forgive the brain dump!

On Friday night, the lads once again took to the Pyramid Stage down on Worthy Farm and played a show that was, quite frankly, mind bending-ly beautiful. It literally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I don't mind admitting that at points their performance submerged within such strong emotions, that it almost brought me to tears.

I shit you not!

You see, they made it all seem so effortless. Jonny Greenwood ripped apart, then seduced and finally yanked his guitar about with such poise and grace it was like the guitar was an extra limb of his! His brother (Colin Greenwood) and Phil Selway kept tight, intricate rhythm back lines going with enviable control and calm, whilst Thom Yorke, played, moved about and sang his little heart out with such gusto and emotion it would be fair to assume he was a conduit to an other universe.

Ed O'Brien is always the epitome of cool, so goes without saying...even though I've just said it.

However, although from the outside it looks effortless and easy, the thing that is to be remembered is just how hard Radiohead actually find making such a beautiful racket. They have said on record time and time again that they slave over albums and performances and Thom Yorke particularity struggles with live shows and the pressures they command. To know that they have worked damn hard at getting things right and it isn't some other worldly force is quite inspiring to be honest and very real.

It was also great to see/hear a set-list that didn't actually pander to a Greatest Hits collection, which it would have been so easy to do. Sure there were hits in their set-list, but for the most part they played lesser known tracks and songs that you wouldn't expect to hear at such a highly publicised and covered event like Glastonbury. You and Whose Army is a favourite of mine and the rendition of this was beautifully stark and haunting and a performance I would have expected for a show that would be set aside for BBC 6 Music competition winners at Rough Trade...or something!

I also really loved how accessible they proved themselves to be. Sure, I've been a fan since The Bends (I didn't get caught up in Pablo Honey all that much to be honest) so I am slightly biased, but I feel Radiohead have had an unfair ride, mainly by being labelled miserable bastards lacking humour. Let me tell you, anyone who sings the line "He buzzes like a fridge" has a sense of humour. The crowds were singing back the songs like they were in the terraces and although they may not be a standard meat and potatoes rock band, they are still a band of the people.

Somewhat appropriately, there was the moment when the band sung No Surprises, (which was written with hope about the 1997 election of Tony Blair twenty years before) and the line "Bring down the Government, they don't speak for us" created a huge cheer from the audience.

You see Radiohead are actually a bit of a peoples band - There are so many folk that wouldn't consider themselves muso's or are that interested in music and yet really like Radiohead. Their music transcends most and speaks and connects with huge swaths of people around the world.

For me, the best music is when I feel that connection deep within, which actually influences my decisions. I don't even jest - Some of the biggest decisions I've made have been from listening to a song that has made me go "Fuck it, life's too short" or it's given me a reason to believe I can achieve something or I should act upon a gut feeling. It's peculiar and magical and one of the many reasons I love music so much. Music has been a sort of guidance system for me and Radiohead have consistently been a group that has been at the forefront of this. They affect my grey matter and thus influence my choices throughout my life...

...which when that sentence is written down seems fucking scary actually! GET OUT OF MY HEAD RADIOHE...Oh!

Music, in my humble opinion is the most important art form because it has the ability to get right to the root of the listener and affect them in some way, shape or form. Obviously other art forms such as film and works of art etc, can do this, but I personally find it is few and far between and it is not always as instant as a piece of music. Radiohead are a great example of this and their live show at Worthy Farm backed this rambling up I believe - they had the audience in awe and took them away to a place that was filled with beauty and passion and magic.

A bit of a sprawling, ramble of words here and nothing that hasn't already been said I expect, but I was so blown away by Radiohead I just needed to write about it and get it out my head.

**Heavy Sigh**

Thanks for indulging me! XXXX

What did you think of Radiohead's performance at Glasto? Let me know in the comments below!

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