Through the grace of God -- and a well-connected, earthly friend -- the lovely Malibu Stacy and I had the pleasure of seeing Radiohead live in concert at Madison Square Garden last night.
The last time I saw them was a legendary show at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, outdoors on a nice summer night with the Statue of Liberty in the background. That's a hard one to top, but this show came damn close.
It was in the theater at MSG, which seats maybe 4,000-5,000 people and thus had a really intimate feel. We had very good seats, the seventh row behind the standing-room general admission crowd, just off center. (How good were the seats? Natalie Portman was in the row behind us. Suck on that, Queen Amadala.)
Alright, onto the show. First, I hate it when music bloggers ignore the opening acts. (Yes, this is normally warranted. I'm reminded of a classic David Letterman Top Ten List about exhibits at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where one of them was "Get the Hell Offstage!: A Tribute to Opening Bands.") So let me address the brilliance of the Black Keys. You've definitely heard them before, since their "Have Love Will Travel" has been used in a Nissan ad and other tunes popped up elsewhere. A great grunge-blues two piece, sort of like the White Stripes, but a little more gutteral with the vocals, which is how I likes 'em. They played a short, tight set, maybe a half hour and then scampered off. Wish they'd been able to play longer, and hope to get to see them do a full set soon.
Radiohead came on about 9:10. In what must have been a very difficult stage effect, their arrival was accompanied by huge plumes of funny-smelling smoke coming from a number of different sources hidden in the crowd. Really impressive. It made me a little light-headed, though. As a group, the band seemed really excited to be there -- especially Thom Yorke, who's clearly grown into the role of lead singer and frontman, a role that didn't seem to fit him earlier in their career.
They played for about an hour-and-a-half, probably two dozen songs and two encores. Perhaps a third of the songs were ones off the forthcoming album, and they all sounded great. "15 Steps" and "Videotape" were especially good. They mixed in a number of songs from the last couple of albums, too, including "Everything in Its Right Place," "Idioteque," "National Anthem," "Myxomatosis," "2+2=5," "I Might Be Wrong," etc. A few old classics, like a brilliant version of "Paranoid Android," an asskicking "Just," and a simply beautiful rendition of "No Surprises," too.
I'm sure the full set list and mp3s will be available in the music blogosphere soon, compiled by someone with a greater attention to detail than me. But if you'd rather not wait, you can download recent concerts of theirs in Amsterdam, Boston, and Toronto. The sound quality is fairly good, and all the set lists a bit different. Collect all three!
In the meantime, stay tuned for Part Three of my ongoing series on getting people to envy me. First, I told you about the new HDTV we bought, and now I've reported on the Radiohead show. Tomorrow, I'll reveal the secret identity of my wife Malibu Stacy -- she's really the entire squad of the Miami Heat Dancers!
(Photo stolen shamelessly from Stereogum's post on the previous night's show. Thanks to Brad R. of Sadly, No! for a couple of the concert links.)
Update: I'm told the links for the Boston show have expired. All the more reason to hurry up and download the other two before they're gone as well.