Radiohead – 10 Days 5 Shows, 4 Hrs Sleep

by Jonathan on September 8, 2009

Radiohead in Prague 8-24-09

Thom in Prague. View more photos below.

The following is a review of the recent European tour by Vincent Cornelli, a photographer in New York City, who attended every one of the shows. He graciously offered to write up a review of the whole tour, as well as take photos for us. Make sure to see all the photos after the jump.

In my opinion, there’s no better way to see the world than to hit up destination festivals and tours. It fosters the best of encounters, friendships, and ultimately, sonic experiences…especially when it comes to a band like Radiohead. I recently returned from a trip to Europe following Radiohead’s five show mini-tour.

On August 19th, I set out on my mission. First stop, Austria’s Frequency Festival.

For many of us, Radiohead is a band that continues to remain relevant in our lives. For me, it started when The Bends surfaced. Upon it’s release, I was not the biggest fan of Pablo Honey…not to fault the album, but at that point in my life I was counter to anything mainstream. So, from the days of The Bends to present, Radiohead continues to create amazing music by pulling from older influences of styles, percussions, etc, and fusing it with their iconic sound and direction. Their lyrics, ideologies, and actions tend to strike a chord that allows us to look past the current pretenses we’re spoon fed, and they continue to suggest that we look forward.

But, the greatest part of it all is that I am not alone here.

Radiohead’s live experience means something. One thing in common at all of the Radiohead shows I’ve attended is that incredible people permeate, and share this same view. In the nine countries I’ve ever traveled to see this band, I am always surprised to come back to the same conclusion – I am not alone. This tour has again proved exactly that – I have met individuals who traveled from six of our seven continents to bare witness to this five show stint. Call me a hippie, but this tour is proof positive that the dream is alive.

For many reasons, I would have to say that Poznan, Poland proved to be their best show of 2009.

First off, this was only the second time Radiohead had rolled through Poland – the first being during the Pablo Honey days, 15+ years ago. [Sidebar: I thought it quite poetic to close the evening with Creep].

Throughout the day at Cytadela City Park, I must have met 20+ locals…all energetic, with much to say about the band, politics, America, etc. As I spoke to them all, it became clear that they felt that the reason it took 15 years to return to Poland was mainly political. Right or wrong, I don’t claim to know…but that was their feeling. I will say this, of the shows outside of the U.K. during the tour, the five-some hit two countries they’ve never performed – Austria, and the Czech Republic.

At present however, Poznan is a city strongly focused on green energy and sustainable living…a priority that is certainly in line with the band’s mission. In late 2008, the United Nations held their global Climate Change Conference in the city of Poznan. A reason to hit Poznan? Sure. And as the self-proclaimed city motto goes, “Poznan for Earth.”

Irrespective of the basis for the band’s 15 year absence, the crowd was more than grateful for their return…the best crowd by far. Adding to the greatness of the crowd was that fact that Radiohead really clicked into a perfect cohesive sound during the third show of their tour. They were perfectly in sync…and they knew it. The energy was high, Thom was quite loquacious with the audience, and it was a perfect cyclical function of [dare I be redundant here] circular logic – the crowd feeding off the band, and visa-versa. It was an exceptional way to light up my 30th Radiohead show.

I must say, I was quite disappointed with the scene in Austria, a country new to the band’s touring history. Many people jetted that gear during the first and second encores. This was also quite obvious to a few other photographers and journalists I met that evening. While I don’t speak any of the many languages that are spoken in Austria (and there are more than a few), I found myself pointing people back toward the stage…saying, “Umm, the stage is thata way.” Granted it was a festival crowd, and there are other bands to see…but Grace Jones in comparison? Come on! Sure, there were some timing/logistical issues with the shuttles and trains back to Vienna. Personally, had it not been for an Austrian photographer friend who was kind enough to drive me back to Vienna (a gentlemen I met in the Radiohead photo pit), I was prepared to wait out the evening with all of my camera gear for an early AM train back to homebase.

One positive, amid an incredible setlist, was the premier of, These Are My Twisted Words. Thom kindly dedicated the song to ‘all the file-sharers out there.’ The song perplexes me some, however. Usually, when I don’t ‘get’ a produced Radiohead song at first blush, I always seem to eat my words after I experience it live. It all seems to work itself into place. It took me 4 tries <<fast forward to the Leeds Festival>> to finally get on board. Some are pontificating that this song as an indicator of a new direction musically. I’m not so sure I subscribe to this logic.

On another note – after the North American tour last summer, a few of us became a bit nervous of Thom Yorke’s voice. Granted, the band toured extensively all summer and the range of Thom’s vocals are an impossibility for most, but some still feared the worst. During the last tour, the typical crowd pleaser, Idioteque, rang differently with Ed supporting on vocals. While arguable, it didn’t necessarily work.

This go around? There was no sign of any weakness at all – only a stronger Radiohead…spot on. The entire band flexed their brilliance in exceptional spirits, and Thom’s voice was not only stunning, he sounded quite healthy. Idioteque, as it usually is, was fantastic. An equal crowd pleaser, Everything In It’s Right Place (and one note on the show in Prague), was beyond gorgeous when Thom leveraged the lyrics of True Love Waits [in it’s entirety] into the intro…truly haunting.

While Poznan brought the best of Radiohead, Leeds Festival proved to be the greatest of experiences. It is like no other festival I have seen (and I travel a fair amount for live tunes). I am 100% certain that next year, I will be hitting Leeds for the full five-day festival experience. The layout, the people, the energy and vibe were awe-inspiring. It’s nothing like what I’ve experienced. Needless to say, I got myself in some trouble…the good kind.

All in all, it was a fantastic journey. I feel fortunate to have been able to have been there, and to continue to ride the wave. Many thanks to Radiohead’s management, and Jonathan Percy, founder of www.greenplastic.com, for the opportunity to photograph both the Frequency Festival performance in St. Poelten, Austria, and a straight show Prague, CZ. Pictures are included below. I look forward to doing it again soon.



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  • Call me a hippie, but this tour is proof positive that the dream is alive.i loved that . . .

    great picts – great concept on following the band ! !
    pantrus

    ps:the link it’s mainly to show the beautiful music i listen to, wich you will find on my top friends . . . music wise i am not a musician and only a person who have fun jamming [ not trying to bring people to my music but to the music i listen to and hardly recommend to check out ] peace again

  • Great photos of Radiohead.

    I see a lot – and the dedication of this project stands out against all the other single-show series…

    You really gave it your all and as a seasoned professional, is totally impressed by your efforts.

    – Julian

  • weethewriter

    the photos are spectacular…i travelled from afar to see their show too. my one and only gripe – moderat, the support act put on a great show but received a rather cold reception. that was the sad part.

  • Well done, Mr. Cornelli. Shots as well as treatment are nice. I decided to leave mine untouched though, I started but than it didn’t feel right. Oh man. Now I think that I just should’ve joined you. At least until Poland. Well… next time.

    Btw: our public radiostation was allowed to broadcast 5 songs: Nude, Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, The Gloaming,Street Sprit (Fade Out) and Videotape. They sounded perfect and I’ll get my hands on the soundboard recording soon. Will let you know.

  • emeterio

    i THINK THAT LATIN AMERICAN TOUR WAS MUCH BETTER THANT POLAND.

  • yea, emeterio…i guess, more or less, one of the points i was trying to make was that each of their shows are quite special…which is why many of us go through great lengths to seek out their performances. sorry to have missed the latin american tour; sounds like it was a rip.

    @ julian, niko, pantrus, and weethewriter…appreciate it! thanks.

    and yes, weethewriter – i too noticed that, re moderat. there were a couple issues there, though…1 – MODESELEKTOR and Apparat produce great tracks…which, if remixed well, would work in a club, and on a turntable. 2 – Im not sure that their music translates well to them playing for live crowd, or during the day, or in a lush green park. I will say this…I saw them roll through NYC a few months ago, and the shows in Europe were much tighter…but, i still dont think it worked so well in a sun-lit field. think disco-balls.

    niko. lemme get my hands on that recording!

  • JJ

    I’m jealous, but glad you were able to share that experience with us. thank you for these beautiful pictures. looks amazing. 30 shows wow! that’s unreal! i can’t imagine ever being that lucky to afford that many times to see them live. i’ve only seen them in the U.S. at bonnaroo in 06 and lollapalooza in 08. i would love to see them with a european crowd at least once. i bet it is another experience altogether. thanks again, peace and love.

  • Grejfrut

    “For many reasons, I would have to say that Poznan, Poland proved to be their best show of 2009”
    Yes, i’m from Poland, and i was there-the performance was….oh, splendid!! Everything was in the right place 🙂 The great sound, and the support, MODERAT, was very cool too. Too bad they played very curtly.

    i’m waiting for the next show here, in Poland-maybe next year’s Opener??

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  • daniel allen

    radiohead is the best band.
    floyd & beatles going hand in hand.
    but radiohead has the most to share, and true intellect in the land.

    RADIOHEAD is THE FUTURE.

    imho.

    P.S. i LOVE “these are my twisted words…”

  • emeterio

    Ooooooooo yeah i cant wait another radiohead gig,

  • thanks vinny cornelli for the story and the great pictures, loved it all, but i could not help to notice that there were no Phil or Colin pics!! would have enjoyed those, but cool anyways!
    im from venezuela and traveled to the brazil and argentina shows and wow! best nights of my life!

  • @ jerick – yea man. phil/colin are tough to shoot from the photo pit, as they tend to hold it down at the back of the stage. so, with that, and me not being the tallest…it was tough to get any clear line of sight on them.

    im jealous you were at both brazil and argentina shows…those setlists looked pretty dope. cheers, v

  • linda

    I’m a bit jealous, I’ve seen them only once 🙂
    Anyway, thanks for the great pictures! 🙂 But just one note — the show in Prague was in 8-23-2009, not in 8-24-2009.

    PS. Sorry for my english.

  • max

    why no photo with thom on the piano? 🙁

  • pntrs.

    for Jerick . . . i know i posted this b4 but for the ones who missed a Phil pict. Sorry i can t help with Colin [ next time ] .

    ps : vinny . . . i agree is hard to get good picts of them that s why i catched Phil downstairs hahaha

    peace all [ nice to see no negative comments this time – perhaps radiohead fans are learning to be nicer ]

    he

    ps II : you guys have no idea what a beautiful great energy i felt when being close to him . . .

    http://s300.photobucket.com/albums/nn32/pantrus/?action=view&current=IMG_0954.jpg

  • luis

    great review vincent…however (and please correct me if i’m wrong)…you did not saw rh in their latin america leg early this year…

    it was awesome….

  • yeayea…got my wires crossed, and was thinking the latin am. tour was in 08…meant to update/correct.

    should read – “For many reasons, I would have to say that Poznan, Poland proved to be their best show this tour.”

  • @ max – press pass only allows for first 3 songs of the show. aint no piano in that window for shows i received access to. peace. v

  • Maciek

    Dzi?kuj? bardzo Radiohead! Beautiful show in Pozna?!

  • Pat

    Yea i can agree there…thoms voice has sounded pretty bad lately…its like he doesnt even try anymore. It kills me to say that too. I’am sure if he actually tried a wee bit harder his performance would be 10 times fuckin better.

  • Calidus Manbeach

    Good pictures. However, the review was atrocious. I guess that’s why he’s a photographer.

    “Call me a hippie, but this tour is proof positive that the dream is alive.”
    What the fuck is “the dream?”

  • emeterio

    Yeah colin is cool

  • emeterio

    radiohead rocked at mexico, argentina, brasil and chile, it was so awesome we hope that they come back soon

  • @ calidus – yea, a photog for sure.
    as for the dream bit…glad ur askin urself that, mate.
    cheers,v

  • cold dessert

    great piece of writing and stunning photos. RH’s work is something you can return to and still find it relevent— yes indeed. thank you Mr. Cornelli. : D
    and here’s hoping the tour can make it to australia!

  • Rainbow

    Vincent, thanks for the photos. Pics of hooded Jonny – the best pics of him ever imo.

    As for Thoms voice… I don’t get all the criticsm (@ Pat). It’s just changed, it’s more mature imo. Listen to any performer singing in youth and then 20 years later, he/she will always sound different. And that does not mean ‘worse’ in most cases.
    Thom’s voice is now deeper, more emotional, kind of laid-back in a very professional way, not boyish anymore. The performance at Latitude is the best example, or The Eraser, or famous live recording from the basement. I won’t ever forget Nude during the gig in Poznan; almost the perfect silence in the audience, you can only hear people’s jaws opening wide around 2:40… 🙂 Amazing.

    Can anyone agree with me? (please) :))

  • ginny

    I agree with you, Rainbow 🙂

    I was in Poznan, and must to say it was the most perfect day in my life.

  • pntrs.

    as for the dream bit…glad ur askin urself that, mate. hahaha

    i am becoming a huge big VINNY CORNELLI fan ! !

  • pcg

    Just wanted to bandwagon a bit: absolutely GORGEOUS photos and inspired treatment. You captured the band and scenery quite well (esp. in #11). What an experience it all must have been…

    Cheers,
    Peter

  • skrappynugz

    great photos.

    loved the review and the photos.

    made me feel like i was there.

    oh…..and to they guy who still hasn’t discovered what “the dream” is…may your heart be well in your search.

    Skrapp

  • redrumPole

    Rainbow -> I can agree 🙂 and i just checked Nude from Poznan, you are right, sounds amazing…

    Yes, I am from Poland too, yes, I’ve been to Poznan show and it was my first Radiohead live experience ever… can’t wait for the next one 🙂

    Thank you Vincent for those nice words – as one of the Polish fans I can confirm we really had been waiting for Radiohead for veeery long and so we all had time of our lives.

    And we all hope we won’t be waiting for Radiohead for the next 15 years 😉

  • radioholic_worm

    Rainbow- I agree with you 🙂 Whatever will happen, next radiohead concert I’m gonna spent on first zone.

    We have in Poland plenty of parks, halls, green yards, and they all waiting for Radiohead performance. So this time- hurry up, boys!!

  • Rainbow

    @ Ginny, Redrum, Radioholic, thanks guys for your huge and enthusiastic support : )

  • sdrastwujte

    …just discovered this article, awesome pictures I must say, very personal but not intruding… I’ve been to Prague and Reading, they were not your favourites, should I be envious?
    I understand the discussion about Thom’s voice, first I’ve seen them 1997 and of course it sounded different then, absolutely mindblowing (and yes, I miss that extreme quality it had at the time…). But even if you could who would want to freeze a band in a moment to prevent them from growing up and changing speak move on and reach new levels and grow older as well as the admirers? And even with the changes that voice is still one of the most beautiful existing right now…

  • sdrastwujte – well said, champ. well said.

  • Rainbow

    “And even with the changes that voice is still one of the most beautiful existing right now…”

    That is so so true Sdrastwujte.
    In fact I cannot think about Thom’s voice changing throughout the years in other terms than natural and desirable progress and development. There’s a new quality to it now and I keep my eyes and ears open to appreciate every little nuance about it.
    Although, I perfectly understand what you mean saying ‘mindblowing’ about the past. Yes, I admit, that crystalline purity, sort of supersonic power of his voice, was just unbeliavable.

    ps. Sorry if my English sounds a bit ‘weird’ or funny… I’m not an English speaker.

  • Lisa

    the pictures and review are fucking awesome. thank you for sharing. i can’t wait to dedicate my life to following radiohead on their next tour, and this review makes it that much harder to wait. keep it up.

  • emily rodgers

    wow, really great shots, leeds festival was just amazing..
    impressive photos xxx

  • luigi

    just crying

  • luigi

    just crying…
    please help me .. listen to music and study musicology but for me… after lots of bends what’s done RH on this moment in just inbelieveble

    sorry for my english

    just a lover not a fan (doesn’t want to )

    somebdy can help me please answer somewthing there (there): soyonsvrais@hotmail.com

    just cause i need to receive some help

  • Diana

    UNEXPRESSIBLY GREAT PHOTOS!!!!I want to be a Radiohead photographer!!!!OOHH MYY GOOOSSSHH!I think that u shouldn’t judge the Radiohead carrier.I don’t want Radiohead to finish writing the songs too.But they will make the decision.Anyway We love Radiohead and appreciate their songs,videos and CONCERTS!!!!!I think they are the most hardworking band in the world!Radiohead does everything for the fans!They just don’t care about the health of themselves.Please undertand that.And the shows are BRILLIANT!!!!They just strongly put back into their work!!!

  • I can see loads of comments from Polish fans!! I also belong to this nation and our number is vast so I do not understand why Radiohead waited sooo long to come and do us the honors. We are the most passionate fans there are and I think it came across during the concert.
    R_AD_IOH_EAD.. You said you weren’t sure which songs we knew and which we did not, well, we knew all of them and sung them with you from the bottom of our hearts saturated with our polish accent!

    Do come back! Surely we’ll start recycling more if you do!!!

  • sdrastwujte

    …just to round off the voice discussion, I went to see the Age Of Stupid Premiere (by the way a must see, watch it!) and was touched by how moved Thom Yorke seemed himself. And it was all there: that almost unearthly sheer beauty and extreme emotion and all that.
    I’d like to amend my view: it IS the most beautiful voice right now and I sincerely hope that there will be some more solo performances in the future…

  • agreed sdrastwujte. right on.v

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  • Michael

    Pozan wasn’t Radioheads best performance of 2009 or Leeds, Reading Festival was.

  • Sanam Sadeghpour

    Amazing …

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