Words by Alex Napoliello | Photos by Joe Papeo
Almost a year ago, Radiohead played two nights atÂ Roseland Ballroom in NYC, an intimate venue for a band with such stature. On May 31, 2012, Radiohead sold out the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ â€“ a venue with a capacity of 19,000. Equipped with a second drummer and a clever lighting display featuring floating television screens imprinted with close ups of each member, Radiohead easily adapted to the arena atmosphere.
As fans continued to file into their seats, Thom Yorke and the gang kicked off the set around 8: 45 with ‘Bloom’, the first track off their latest album The King of Limbs. Radiohead continued with some newer material, ’15 Step’ and ‘Bodysnatchers’, from 2007’s In Rainbows. Aside from the heavy ‘Myxomatosis’ and ‘The Gloaming’, the English bred quintet stuck with all fresh tracks, including ‘The Daily Mail’ and ‘Identikit’, two songs that have yet to find a place on a studio album.
“We’re not ready for the greatest hits yet”, Yorke bated the crowd. But the fans had no qualms with hearing the band’s newer material. As Yorke grabbed a pair of maracas and shook his way through ‘Bloom’, the crowd was in high spirits, grooving along to the fast-paced melodies.
With the fans warmed up, Radiohead delivered some heavy hitters. Yorke grabbed his acoustic guitar and as he strummed the opening chords to ‘Karma Police’, the Prudential Center erupted. Digging a bit deeper in the greatest hits catalogue, Radiohead closed the first set off with ‘Idioteque’ from their critically acclaimed album Kid A. The fans sang along as Yorke pointed the microphone in their direction, partly because of an audio malfunction that left him unable to complete every verse of the song*.
Radiohead quickly returned for the first of two encores, starting with the only Amnesiac song of the night, ‘You and Whose Army?’. After a couple more, the stage crew rolled out a piano for Yorke to play with the flag of Tibet hanging on the back. The late Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch was a very vocal activist of the ‘Free Tibet’ movement, and Yorke dedicated ‘Everything In It’s Right Place’ to him. At the close of the song, Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien looped the instrumentals as each member of Radiohead walked off stage one by one, thanking the crowd before departing.
The final encore featured a stripped down performance of ‘Give Up The Ghost’, Kid A‘s ‘The National Anthem’ and ended on a high note with ‘Reckoner’.
*It was unclear whether there were technical difficulties on ‘Idioteque’. On the second night, however, there was yet another vocal malfunction on the same track, leaving Yorke clearly angered. Towards the end of the song, the mic cut out for the second time prompting Yorke to leave the stage, muttering “Fuck this” under his breath.
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