Masquerade / Aug. 10
Radiohead's show solidified an impression I've been getting of the band lately -- they are the Pink Floyd or the Rush of the 1990s. Before you pseudo hipsters get all snide and cynical, let me explain.
Like those two bands, Radiohead has gotten a devoted following without a great deal of Top 40 airplay, but more importantly, like Pink Floyd and Rush, Radiohead has brought supreme instrumental dexterity to the stage without sacrificing feeling.
From the moment Radiohead sauntered unto the Masquerade stage while a tape of "Fitter, Happier" rolled, they revealed themselves to be a band practicing at the height of their powers. Unlike most bands who want to bash you over the head with their opening number, Radiohead played the unassuming, quiet "Lucky" before heading into the heavier "Just (You Do It to Yourself)." This theme of alternating lighter and darker tracks pervaded the night's set. Thom Yorke's voice sounded so enthralling on the wanting "Bullet Proof... I Wish I Was" and "Fake Plastic Trees," but it was on the chilling "Exit Music" where all his talents as a vocalist were utilized. Yorke, like Jeff Buckley, has the ability to sound beautiful one moment and tragic the next.
But it wasn't only Yorke's voice that made the night. Although Yorke, along with Ed O'Brien, also plays guitar, Jonny Greenwood is the guitar hero of the band. Oasis' Noel Gallagher might get more press, but Jonny Greenwood's fret work is miles beyond him. But it isn't just the stuff on guitar that makes Greenwood so interesting. On the lullaby "No Surprises," Jonny also demonstrated his melodic xylophone skills. Backing all this up was the tight rhythm section of Jonny's brother Colin Greenwood on bass and drummer Phil Selway.
After the band ended their set with "Talk Show Host," which was their contribution to the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack, it was clear the audience wanted to hear more... especially that one song. It seemed like that was what Yorke alluded to when he said, "If it's okay, we're going to play a song from our first album (Pablo Honey)." But it was the notes of "Lurgee," not "Creep," that came out of the speakers with "Karma Police" and the appropriate "Street Spirit (Fade Out)" closing out the encore.
The audience still wanted more, and Radiohead obliged with "Subterranean Homesick Alien" before leaving the stage once again. The house speakers came on, the roadies began to dismantle the equipment, but the audience still cheered for more. Finally, a solo Yorke, with just an acoustic, lit into a brilliant version of "Thinking About You" and thanked the Atlanta crowd one last time.