Last Night: Radiohead At Toyota Center

Radiohead March 4 A.JPG
Photos by Jim Bricker
Radiohead
Toyota Center
March 3, 2012

See more photos from Saturday night in our slideshow.

Radiohead just doesn't add up. The band has effectively turned its back on the music business, pioneering alternative methods of distribution of its music to fans (most of it online), short-circuiting the traditional promotional apparatus by releasing last year's The King of Limbs exactly a week after they announced its existence, and spending at least the previous decade exploring and refining their interests in electronic and avant-garde music.

Yet there they were Saturday, selling out the same arena where Nickelback and Coldplay - two bands who have followed a considerably more conservative model, both in business and songwriting - will play here in a few months. Either Radiohead knows something bands like that don't, or they are grifters who would make late Texas-born author Jim Thompson proud.

There was probably very little Saturday to contradict once-ardent fans of the band's beloved guitar-heavy albums The Bends and OK Computer who think, to borrow an expression from Radiohead's home country, that they have been up their own arse for a while. But there were moments where Radiohead's esoteric, challenging music also made great arena-rock theater - who knew Kid A's frenetic electronica track "Idioteque" would make such an excellent clapalong?

Radiohead March 4 D.JPG
Heavy on irregular time signatures, electronic and regular drums - at times there were four people playing drums onstage, including Portishead's Clive Deamer - and songs pasted together by sequencers, vintage keyboards and whatever it was that looked like an old-timey telephone switchboard Jonny Greenwood was using when not playing guitar, most of the set was more performance art than rock and roll.

Add the LED backdrop, multiple flatscreen monitors hung overhead and pastel-heavy color scheme, and it felt more like something you'd see at the Contemporary Arts Museum than a sports arena. Maybe Radiohead should look into a show at MOMA in New York, although it's too bad Kraftwerk got there first.

But even for someone not terribly familiar with the newer material, it was still recognizably Radiohead: The throbbing bass pulse of Limbs' "Little By Little," front man Thom Yorke's wounded howl on solo-piano setpiece "Codex," the Phillip Glass-like wash of ambient guitars and keyboards of In Rainbows' "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi."


Location Info

Map

Toyota Center

1510 Polk, Houston, TX

Category: Music

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21 comments
Jasper
Jasper

I kind of liked the fact that the band played every song off The King of Limbs (so far Houston is the only city in which they've done that). I probably could have lived with something in place of Feral, but I'm not bummed. I can see why people would be disappointed if this was their first time seeing the band though. With 8 albums under their belt, I feel like they could have played longer. Heck, even Guns N Roses played for about 3 hours. But I've got no real complaints... except that I wish I could have seen them at every Texas date.

curseofleisure
curseofleisure

Chris, I agree with your comments about hype vs. reality. I kind of avoided Radiohead for years because all of the hype around them in the late 90s/early 00s. Also the fact that the only time I saw them live was in '93 (I was there to see Belly) gave me the wrong idea about what kind of band they were. But Kid A just could not be ignored. It took me a few years after its release to actually listen to that album in its entirety, and it floored me. Since that time, I have slowly gotten to know Radiohead's catalogue, and am convinced they really are worthy of the praise bestowed upon them. I guess I need to get out and see them live next time I get the chance. Good review.

Tn_rx
Tn_rx

I agree with those who said the setlist was made to fit in with the new sound of KOL. It didnt suprise me at all that Fake Plastic Trees and Karma Police wasn't on the list. Plus, you wouldn't have been able to hear them sing it anyway with all the deuchebags screaming each lyric at the top of their lungs.

ricardo rivera
ricardo rivera

Why would they play The Bends stuff? Thom said this tour would be KOL and songs that fit with that sound. You got Paranoid Android, old fans. Be happy with your gift.

MishapsGalore
MishapsGalore

I've always liked the music of Radiohead but they will never be known as being the enjoyable band to watch unless you enjoy the pain stricken facial tics of Thom. Although, his dancing skills have improved. I mean life is SO serious. Who has time to smile? Just joshing. I got hooked to the Radiohead vibe since they opened up for REM back in 95-96? They totally rock what was known to be The Bends tour. Oh man. That was a sight to behold. Also saw them for their OK Computer and In Rainbows tours. Both awesome displays of musicianship and dourness. They do this for the music and not so much for the fans. Oh well. Regardless, I'll still buy and listen to their music.

Smokingcrow83
Smokingcrow83

Hey Houston press.........why isn't Radiohead at summerfest this year? Were you holding out for the bigger crowd pleaser...coldplay. You suck. Lucky for you The Flaming Lips are bailing you out.

Omar
Omar

Third time seeing them, still an amazing show.  One of the best parts of seeing them is that you will get to experience all their new stuff and the more you see them, the more likely you'll get to hear some of the old faves sprinkled in.  They could honestly have played for about 4 hours.  People forget that the last stop in the woodlands they broke out street spirit and planet telex.  Seeing them at lolla, they played fake plastic and the bends.  I was personally pretty happy to hear them break out "these are my twisted words" and of course closing with paranoid android was amazing.   Thom said they have been rehearsing 75 different songs for the tour.

Jason McElweenie
Jason McElweenie

This isn't your favorite nostalgia band, everyone. If you want a greatest hits show go see a Radiohead cover band. This band doesn't give a fuck what anyone wants. I have total respect for that.

Highlights

Phil Selway, Clive Deamer and Colin Greenwood. Not too many other rhythm sections can touch these guys right nowMorning Mr. Magpie melted my faceParanoid Android to close the showMic'd maracas during Lotus FlowerReckonerLighting and cameras

Lowlights

I was really hoping to hear The Daily MailComplaints about not hearing anything from The Bends

:)

Stephen D. Vega
Stephen D. Vega

The whole show was a lesson in art and I enjoyed it very very much. Everything In It's Right Place was worth the price of admission. I'm 50 and I'll never miss them again! Oh yeah, this was my first time to see them; I'm hooked!

David Cook
David Cook

iron lung? high and dry? fake plastic trees???? anything from the bends would have been great. although i did enjoy the show, something of that album would have made it better. 

Kam Franklin
Kam Franklin

I was happy to finally hear Paranoid Android live. The show was fantastic!

Sam Jones
Sam Jones

Their set was perfect for the tour they're on to support "King of the Limbs", a few old songs and a lot of new ones.  What would one expect?

Brianbarker42
Brianbarker42

I really don't think the set was selfish at all. I've liked Radiohead for the past going on 20 years, and honestly, with an exception of maybe Street Spirit and Planet Telex, The Bends era songs don't translate well live in comparison to their current stuff. The band is making more fleshed out songs than ever. And quite frankly they wouldn't be band today if they were someone like STP who's set relied on songs culled from an album that was 20 years old. I just thankful a band like that exist.  

OldGuy
OldGuy

I'm with you in that I think that Radiohead could use a little more songs in their songs. I went with my two sons, I asked the one in the demographic what two songs were that I liked the most and they were Airbag and There There. Myxomatosis had some good structure too. The songs did translate much better live. Pretty good show overall.

Josh
Josh

I liked the set list.  You had to expect a lot from their latest album.  Just reading the set list, maybe you wouldn't think it sounds exciting but many of those songs were better live.  Much of the set list was different from the show they performed here in 2008.  Two unreleased songs were a treat for devoted fans.  What would you have rather heard?

Echo
Echo

The show was great but the set list was incredibly selfish. 

Corey
Corey

Kind of crap set list, I'm sure many left disappointed they didn't play more noticeable tracks.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

I really liked "Everything In Its Right Place." I was sitting there thinking to myself, no other band who had a global hit like "Creep" could have gone on to this whole other career that almost seems to ignore the fact that that record even existed. Pretty amazing.

yo
yo

dumbass

Craig Hlavaty
Craig Hlavaty

The Houston Press doesn't even put on Summer Fest. Hahaha wow.

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