Radiohead fly the flag of exellence at the Reading Festival

Among all the talking points at this year’s Reading festival – including Kings of Leon’s self destructive set, sound problems on the main stage and the surprise appearance of super group ‘Them Crooked Vultures’ it was business as usual for art rockers Radiohead.  In what was a true masterclass in visual and sonic performance the Oxford band produced an epic display to overwhelm the Sunday night crowd.

The band were more relaxed than ever with Yorke greeting the crowd with a ‘Wassup’ before launching into their seminal single, but rarely played ‘Creep’.  A statement of intent which went into hyper-drive during their next song – ‘The National Anthem’ – a powerfully muscular and menacing groove which exploded off the stage in glorious 3D effects.  Much of Radiohead’s ethereal music was wonderfully embellished with their new cylinder – fluorescent lighting – and fragmented screens – the first time UK fans had witnessed the innovative and mesmerising stage effects in full darkness. 

The 2 hour set mixed the whole gamut of the Radiohead back catalogue with each album getting a fair representation.  A large chunk of ‘In Rainbows’ was beautifully recreated during  the middle of the set, highlighting the core elements of mood and texture as Radiohead specialities – many of their best songs tonight were more recent offerings  – There There, Weird Fishes and You and Whose Army – all spiralling tension and sonic layering.

This headlining moment felt like a high point for Radiohead.  A summation of everything that they’d achieved – woven and textualized into a beautiful display of timing, poise and power.   The virtuosity and variation of the band is beyond equal.

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