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Worshipping at the altar of Radiohead


by Manuel Mendoza 19 May 2008

Yes, I was there last night when Radiohead ministered to 20,000 supplicants with moody art-rock and the cleverest light/video show since U2 did its Achtung Baby thing. Having not bought an Rh album since OK Computer, I will leave the musical commentary to others except to say that the effect was hypnotic and to ask, […]

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radioheadlive.jpg

Yes, I was there last night when Radiohead ministered to 20,000 supplicants with moody art-rock and the cleverest light/video show since U2 did its Achtung Baby thing. Having not bought an Rh album since OK Computer, I will leave the musical commentary to others except to say that the effect was hypnotic and to ask, can anyone think of another medium — film, visual art — in which the masses are so engaged with such esoteric material?

A few overenthusiastic worshippers regularly interrupted the services with hoots and hollers, annoying some of the reviewers linked above and below and at one point singer Thom Yorke. This seems to happen in Dallas more than in other places. It was especially distracting Sunday during the quiet songs.

As for the staging, Radiohead erected metallic poles that looked like a cross between wind chimes and the supports used in house construction, then lit them from within and without to create color palates that ranged from saturated walls of deep blues and reds to psychedelic combos. I was just as intrigued by the subtler use of a wide video screen at the back of the stage. Too small and distant and covered by those poles to do anyone on the lawn any good, it was brilliant from up close. The screen was divided into five moving pictures fed by angular shots of the band members performing. It was like a live documentary of the concert.

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