Radiohead: Perfect in Atlanta

Live Review: Radiohead and Other Lives at Philips Arena, 3/1/12

Those who admittedly “don’t get” Radiohead have clearly never experienced a live show. But others, who have been fans of the band since the beginning, have found it easier to appreciate Radiohead’s music as the band has evolved over nearly 20 years on the scene. Despite their electronic/experimental leanings, anyone would be a convert after being witness to one of these astonishing productions.

With the phenomenal musicianship of each member of the band, every song was brilliantly performed – even those unfamiliar to many in the audience sounded like hits. There has been little if any radio play for Radiohead’s songs since the beginning (“Creep,” “High And Dry” and “Karma Police” are exceptions, which had limited success in America – none of which are played live very often). To be honest, The King of Limbs Radiohead is a far cry from the more accessible Pablo Honey Radiohead of 1993.

Lead singer/frantic dancer Thom Yorke (who also skillfully handled guitars, keyboards and piano) commanded a perfect evening for Atlanta fans on the third stop of the King of Limbs tour. Ed O’Brien (guitars, backing vocals, electronics), brothers Colin (bass guitars, keyboards) and Jonny Greenwood (guitars, keyboards, etc.), and Phil Selway (drums, percussion) round out this critically acclaimed British quintet. A majority of tracks off of the new album were played and sounded spectacular live. The 20,000+ rabid fans filled the sold-out Philips Arena and were possibly the only thing louder than the band. Radiohead definitely felt the love that night, crowd surfers and all.

Besides creating music that no one can predict, this group is also known for breathtaking visuals. On the new tour, there are twelve giant screens (each measuring roughly five feet by five feet) hanging high above the stage, showing live images of each member. Several cameras were mounted stage left and right. The huge wall behind the band looked more like bubble wrap, but soon would be host erratic and colorful designs via thousands of LEDs which may or may not have been responsible for seizures throughout the throngs of crazy fans. As the show progressed, those colossal screens began to slowly lower until they were hanging at various angles just above the bandmember’s heads. This mezmerising effect made every seat in the house a front row experience. The screens raised and lowered throughout the show.

Yorke has transcended into Rock God status. At the beginning and end of every song, enamored fans hooted, hollared and screamed their approval. The same thing happened each time he spoke. Even clearing his throat brought applause. Yorke seems the epitome of contentment as he danced and jumped and flailed around the stage, much like Michael Stipe was known to do. Stipe and R.E.M. were one of Radiohead’s inspirations and they opened for the Georgia natives a few times in the nineties.

After an incredible set of 16 wonderful songs, the band gave two encores. In all respects, Yorke was extremely appreciative and thanked the fans repeatedly. Ending the first encore, he sat at the keyboard and sang a few bars of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” which lead seamlessly into the marvelous “Everything In Its Right Place,” one of the evening’s most well-received tunes. When Yorke sings, “Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon / Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon,” it’s hard to imagine that’s his life now. The dude was smiling more and dancing more and living more. At concert’s end, the band had surpassed the two-hour mark.

As Radiohead continue to evolve musically, they also improve upon their live performances. This night in Atlanta should rank up their with their most flawless of evenings. Everything seemed to be in its right place. The only drawback was that many songs were not played due to time constraints and/or the band’s own lack of willingness to play them. Nevertheless, every serious music fan should add Radiohead to their short list of “must see” shows.

Oklahoma’s Other Lives opened the show with a fantastic set. Supporting Radiohead on the first leg of the tour, Other Lives culled most of the songs from last year’s Tamer Animals (TBD) album, including the incredible “For 12.” Just last summer, the band was in Atlanta opening for the Rosebuds in the much smaller EARL venue. They’ve come a long way in a few short months.

Frontman Jesse Tabish lead the six-piece ensemble through a too-brief set of beautiful tunes. Their sound is relatively close to the Radiohead neighborhood of music and the audience recognized that. They will finish out this American tour with Radiohead, then move on and evolve, as all great bands do.

Set List:

Bloom, Little By Little, Airbag, Weird Fishes / Arpeggi, Morning Mr. Magpie, The Gloaming, Kid A, Pyramid Song, Nude, Identikit, Lotus Flower, There There, Feral, Idioteque, The Daily Mail, Bodysnatchers

Encore:

Separator, You And Whose Army?, Myxomatosis, The One I Love / Everything In Its Right Place

Encore 2:

Staircase, Reckoner, Street Spirit (Fade Out)

The Rosebuds share custody of Atlanta fans

Live review: The Rosebuds and Other Lives at The EARL in Atlanta, June 16, 2011

Imagine working with your spouse 24/7/365. Never a break. But the product you make is in demand and made of high quality materials. This has been the situation for the Rosebuds’ Kelly Crisp and Ivan Howard for about the past ten years. The North Carolina duo is on the road in support of their new release, Loud Planes Fly Low (Merge). Sadly, not all business ventures work out. The married Crisp and Howard called their union quits recently, but the Rosebuds continue churning out that great product. You can hear the heartache in “Worthwile” and “Come Visit Me,” but there is also joyous abandon, as in the upbeat “Woods.”

Not strangers to Atlanta, Crisp and Howard performed like locals playing a gig at a friend’s house. Constantly chatting with fans, high-fiving, talking about old times, the band had a great time (and so did we). Throughout the evening, Crisp’s birthday was discussed frequently (it was to hit at midnight), and as they wrapped a fine show, a small birthday cake with candles was brought to her on stage and “Happy Birthday” was sung with vigor by her fans.

The set included several exquisite selections off the new Loud Planes, sprinkled with old faves such as “Drunkards Worst Nightmare,” and “Nice Fox” (with the crowd helping out, “And it don’t mean nothin’ at all”). The EARL was packed with happy fans who sang, danced, and reminisced with the group. Crisp and Howard both possess fine vocal talents, but it was the harmonizing that came off the strongest. They traveled effortlessly between folk and rock, hitting everything in between.

After all four consumed the birthday cake, Kelly Crisp announced, “Well, that’s it. I guess we’ll just hang out now.” And she waded into the crowd of friends.

Opening band Other Lives gave the fans a two-for-one show with a fantastic set of something that sounded like a mix between My Morning Jacket and Radiohead, if you can imagine that. With the recent release of Tamer Animals (TBD), the folk/rock outfit from Stillwater, Oklahoma is making a name for itself with sweeping, fantastic songs that you wish would never end. Singer/guitarist Jesse Tabish possesses a strong voice which perfectly complements the band’s orchestral sound (and vice-versa).

Originally an instrumental-only band known as Kunek, Tabish made the smart decision to beging singing and never looked back. The multi- multi-intrumentalists in the band worked double-time playing guitar, bass, drums, xylophone, trumpet, vibraphone, keyboards, a laptop, cello, a pair of deer antlers crafted into tamborines, and more. Fascinating just to watch, Other Lives provided a lush sound that easily trumped the visuals.

Find the Rosebuds (on tour this summer with Bon Iver) and Other Lives in a town near you and hear their sounds by clicking here: Rosebuds tour / Other Lives tour.