It’s coming. State knows it’s coming, worried eyes around the crowd know it’s coming, and most importantly those not dressed to handle it know it’s coming.
Looking at Radiohead’s career objectively, bad luck hasn’t really been a major element. I mean yeah, they look a little depressed most of the time, but if they weighed it up, and forgot about -Pop is Dead’ of course, they’ve had it pretty good. Tonight though, they are at the mercy of the dark clouds that hover above us.
Then it comes. And when it comes, it fucking pisses down. Two minutes before Thom Yorke and the rest of the Oxford quintet arrive on stage draped in black; the applause and whoops that greet them are tempered by many ticket-holders scurrying in the rain to get their jackets on while balancing their beers on the ground. Suddenly a soggy crowd want their €70’s worth and they want it now. Over to you lads.
Reviews shouldn’t be weather reports and State doesn’t want this to descend into that but it can’t be denied that the conditions have a not too wonderful effect on the majority of those gathered in Malahide Castle. Trust be told, the mood for the hour leading up to this moment had been fairly muted; something which certainly wasn’t changed by Bat for Lashes who, for all their gusto, just didn’t engage the crowd. So much so, their departure is greeted with a whole heap of deafening and quite unfair silence from where State is standing.
The main event begins then with that damp stutter, but Radiohead are hardly a band to be shaken by an auspicious start. By the time the second tune of the evening, -There, There’, kicks in most have forgotten about taking shelter and get into the swing of things. -15 Step’ in all its frenetic brilliance actually gets a few souls dancing and Thom Yorke makes a gag about the rainbow that has appeared over the horizon. ‘We bring that to every gig,’ he says. Okay, it’s not Seinfeld but this is Yorke being positively gregarious by his standards and the crowd love it.
The major achievement of Radiohead in the last decade of course is to have brought their fans down the avenues they desperately wanted to follow in order to keep some sense of interest in continuing as a band. Some believers wavered after Kid A, some returned for Amnesiac and then most rejoiced when the searing brilliance of Hail to the Thief then In Rainbows were unleashed.
Such artistic meanderings have left them in a state where fans greet such left of centre dramatics like -Idioteque’ as excitedly as they do -Just’. That the darkest moments of OK Computer (-Lucky’, -Climbing Up the Walls’) too can receive the kind of rapturous welcome usually reserved for -High & Dry’ or -Fake Plastic Trees’ in years gone by shows just how much this crowd appreciate what Radiohead have given them over the last decade.
Some of the wet t-shirted fair-weather fans are giving the whole thing a short shrift and are heading for the burger vans or the Dart but most are drawing closer to the stage, not caring that The Bends isn’t being reproduced note for note.
Gargantuan versions of -The Gloaming’ and -You and Whose Army’ begin the first encore and put the Dart-chasers in their place, before a finishing flurry sees the last twenty minutes dotted with -My Iron Lung’, -Just’ and, warming many a heart, their career centrepiece -Paranoid Android’. Not perfect by any means, but still towering over the competition, State only wished it had a ticket for the next night too. Rain? What rain?
Photos by James Goulden.