Radiohead - Live

By theajaysharma

Radiohead - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl - 9/25/03
Review by Joseph Whitcher

I'll start by setting the scene: after attempts at the presale and the general onsale, we decided to try the WASTE onsale. I'm sure you've all heard what a fucking mess that was, so I won't go into it now. Suffice it to say that I went through more shit to get tickets for this show than probably ever before. And WASTE, who are supposed to get "good seats" - at least that's what they say right? - finally sends tickets: Section J1, Row 22. All that trouble and we still got shit seats.

So we get in our seats just about 15 minutes before Radiohead goes on. As the show starts, I notice two things: 1) I'm surrounded on all sides by people who are talking instead of paying attention to the show and 2) People are apparently leaving their crappier seats and coming down to fill the aisles and overcrowd rows. Nice.

01 There There - OK, open with something from the new album. Cool. That's the record you're supporting after all. Not bad either, but not at all exciting. Sounded a bit better live than it does on the album.

02 2+2=5 - New album song number two and much more exciting, particularly when the track and Thom get a bit crazy.

03 Lucky - Absolutely gorgeous.

04 Myxomatosis - New album song number three. I don't think this could have been any more boring.

05 Where I End and You Begin - New album track number four. OK, this is starting to get annoying. Again, not bad, but I'm not moved.

06 Backdrifts - New album song number five, but thankfully it's the only song on the album that I absolutely love. I was overjoyed to hear this despite the fact that I don't think it comes across well live as it does on the record. A bit messy, maybe.

07 Airbag - Now this is more like it! One of my favorite Radiohead tracks and it was just BRILLIANT. I tore my throat up screaming so much when they started playing that I was in pain the whole time. But in a good way.

08 Paranoid Android - Great, great, great.

09 Sail to the Moon - New album song number six. Rather lovely, actually.

10 I Will - New album song number seven (out of ten tracks played thus far - notice a trend?), and utterly boring.

11 Lurgee - There are a lot of fans who would be excited about hearing this. I wasn't one of them.

12 The Gloaming - New album song number eight. Unremarkable. The sound of Radiohead treading water...quite like the rest of "Hail" actually.

13 Idioteque - Nice and fun, but not as good as the last time I saw them do it (Santa Barbara, 06/29/01). Seemed to be missing a bit of its punch.

14 Scatterbrain - New album song number nine. Yawn.

15 The National Anthem - STUNNING. I really thought this was fantastic.

16 Exit Music - So, so, so good. Well, aside from the "fans" and Bowl personnel talking throughout the quiet part at the beginning.

17 Sit Down. Stand Up - New album song number ten. The sound of fan apathy growing.

Encore #1:

18 Like Spinning Plates - Very nice. This song is so much better live than it is on the album. Right about this time, a very tall person got told that he couldn't stand in the aisle by a very loud usher/security person. So does he go back to his seat? Of course not. He goes to the row in front of me and blocks my entire view. Thanks, fuckwad. For the first time in ages, I contemplate physical violence.

19 A Punchup At A Wedding - New album song number eleven. Not bad. I think I'd mostly ignored this song on the album but will probably now like it much more.

20 Go To Sleep - New album song number twelve. TWELVE! OUT OF FOURTEEN! What is this? "Really, our new album is quite good, and we're going to prove it"? I call this the Mother Love Bone/Chris Cornell song. Does the guitar at the beginning not sound like it came out of 1991 Seattle? It would have fit well on the "Singles" soundtrack. Still, it's not an awful track.

21 Street Spirit - The only Bends track. And quite nice. By now, I've gone into the aisle myself so that I can actually see. Well, if you'd call Section J1, Row 22 at the Hollywood Bowl "seeing" a show.

Encore #2:

22 Karma Police - At this point, the people who have been talking throughout the whole show decide to shut the fuck up^Eso they can sing along to the "big hit" they heard on KROQ. Annoying sing-along ensues. Even the made-up Hollywood girls in their spaghetti straps and halter tops get into it. Unfuckingbelievable. You couldn't have paid them to pay attention five minutes ago.

23 Everything In Its Right Place - Not bad, but I think I was too far gone at this point to care. I think National Anthem would have been a better song to close with. But what do I know?

So there you have it. An entire half of the set devoted to their retread of a new album. At least we were spared We Suck Young Blood. The setlist was a bit full of slow ballady stuff when I wanted to rock out. I think my favorite part of the whole show was the stunning light show that went on behind the band. Absolutely amazing to watch.

Overall, I felt let down (get it? har har har) for the second time (the first being the aforementioned Santa Barbara show). Sure, I probably would have had a better time if I wasn't surrounded by such complete assholes but putting them aside, I'm feeling more over Radiohead than ever. Oh well.

I should just stick to smaller shows by newer bands where I have less of a chance of having my hopes smashed, where there aren't idols to fall off their pedestals, where it's easy to be surprised by how good a set was. I know that sounds dramatic, but...welcome to me.