It’s 8pm on a windy Wednesday night, and for the tourists wandering the famous London street of Brick Lane the scene is certainly a perplexing one. Policemen shoving photographers, tight-jeaned indie kids and middle aged indie kid wannabe’s off the narrow roads without remorse. Away from the main fracas that once posed as a queue, a swelling crowd sing, hum and wail their way through Radiohead standards of old, led by a battered acoustic guitar and a small group of Stella fuelled enthusiasts. Any hope of being one of the lucky 200 people to get inside the venue has gone, yet still people linger, hoping for a rooftop performance, a peak of a famous face through a window or just to soak up the atmosphere. Gigwise were one of these people, until a series of very fortunate events allowed us to see the greatest gig of our life.
Just under two and a half hours later Radiohead walk onstage to a less than crowded, but ecstatic, 93 Feet East. The hopefuls outside have run home to join fans the world over sat on the edge of their seats, hoping the live webcast will work, which as many of you will know worked spectacularly. All are treated to ‘In Rainbows’ from start to finish and a magical encore. ‘15 Step’ sets the standard, with Colin Greenwood’s bass pounding through the tiny room with more ferocity than is possible in the fields and arenas it’s more accustomed to. ‘What a fuckin’ day’, the frontman admits before launching into ‘Bodysnatchers’ where it’s immediately striking how relaxed the band are and how relieved they are to finally start the gig. Thom’s falsetto hovers, ducks and dives beautifully to expose ‘Nude’ as the lost gem it is, while the shamelessly desperate ‘All I Need’ somehow couples Jonny’s tentative xylophone playing with Selway’s aggressive drumming. ‘Faust Arp’ is even more biting stripped down to its bare bones and is followed by set highlight ‘Reckoner’, with tonight’s rendition of scattered drums and aching vocals showing how far the song has evolved since its early rock incarnations. ‘Jigsaw Falling Into Place’ is a crowd favourite as they’re finally allowed to let themselves go a little, but before they know it the harrowing heartbeat of ‘Videotape’ is bringing them down again and it’s all over.
And then there is of course the encore, begun by a solo Thom performance of ‘Up On The Ladder’ and finished with true classics. The venom supposedly directed at politicians of the time in ‘You And Whose Army’ is completely removed tonight with a carefree rendition that suits the mood perfectly, while ‘The National Anthem’ reverses the sound to one of welcome paranoia in another superb set highlight. As we take another step back to over a decade ago, we arrive to songs that were actually once played in reasonably sized venues. ‘My Iron Lung’ takes us by surprise, not only by its inclusion but also by the ferocity with which it’s played as even Ed helps out with additional vocals to send the song to rest. Album companion ‘The Bends’ closes this remarkable set, with the lucky few in the room arm in arm and deliriously singing every word.
Over the last few months Radiohead have confirmed they can still shock and surprise 15 years into their career, and tonight’s events were another shining example of that. Though it was enjoyed live in homes across the world, but for those there it will remain an unforgettable night, and for this Gigwise will remain eternally gratefully. Please Radiohead, don’t ever stop surprising us.
Originally published on www.gigwise.com