The last time Radiohead was in town was in September for two very special back-to-back gigs at Roseland Ballroom to test out the intricate and involved compositions from their 2011 release, The King of Limbs. The band won over the club goers -- one of the world's biggest bands playing an intimate gig. Next the the band took their massive sound into arenas, stadiums and festivals around the globe.
On the second of two sold-out shows, Radiohead returned to Newark at New Jersey's Prudential Center, and just like they did at Roseland a few months prior, they dazzled the packed audience. Despite some technical glitches within the set, the English band still brought the crowd to places in concert that they never thought they could go in such a big space as The Rock.
Opening with "Bloom," singer Thom Yorke's furious voice would sneak in within the opening lines and every little blip, bop, beat and evolved noise Radiohead had on King of Limbs' opening number shined like stars. Playing in front of a series of long LED rods and a distorted screens, Radiohead still had surprises in their stage design as 12 square LED screens would lower from the top of the stage and appear like a ceiling of lights encasing the band before twisting and turning into various individual positions to project the images of the band on each screen. Yorke danced around for "15th Step," "Bodysnatchers," "Kid A," and "Staircase," and in the following numbers, the band each took command of a different instrument and position for nearly a whole song. Before playing "The Daily Mail," Yorke addressed the crowd and discussed the Occupy movement that started when the band was last in town: "I do not support the violence, but I support the cause," he said.
With a setlist heavy on The King of Limbs and In Rainbows, and that also slipped into b-sides and classics from Kid A, Radiohead pleased fans of the band that have seen them evolve over time. They have become a band that does not want to look too deep into its past, hardly playing songs from their first two albums, Pablo Honey and The Bends. For some it may be a bother, but for others, watching this band evolve through the years with their dynamic and unique sound, proves why they are one of the most celebrated bands in music today. Watching them do their job on stage is certainly a privilege in itself. Seeing Johnny Greenwood -- now much more than the guitarist in the band and actually a full-on composer -- get in front of a series of keyboards and patch bays and create sounds that one never knew existed is a triumph. Seeing the band's two drummers, Phil Selway and Clive Deamer, play in synch and then switch percussion instruments mid-song and not miss a beat, or watching guitarist Ed O'Brien and bassist Colin Greenwood play their axe's and then switch to keyboards or another instrument, is enough to confirm how talented this band is. Yet, even with all the talent and all the wonderment of their live shows, it is still just that -- a live show, where things can go wrong. During the first set closer of the "Idioteque," one could see the frustration in Yorke's face as the sound would cut in and out from when the song first started. The frustration built and Yorke eventually said, "F*ck it" and dropped the microphone and walked off stage upset. While his bandmates had no idea what was happening, they each began to slowly walk off stage and laugh about the technical issues.
As the band returned to the stage for the first of two encores, Yorke apologized by simply saying, "Sh*t happens." Then in a four-song encore that included the closer and OK Computer favorite, "Paranoid Android," he would forget the words. As the band left and then came back for the second encore, Yorke apologized again saying, "I didn't sleep last night, I was sick as a dog. Sorry." It was all forgiven in the final three songs of the beautifully hypnotic, "Give up the Ghost," "Reckoner," and "Everything In It's Right Place," which started off hearing the band cover R.E.M.'s classic, "The One I Love." After 23 songs and over two hours on stage, Radiohead, even with the glitches and forgotten words, still took Newark and its audience to new terrain.