of the Week [Recordings
of Indeterminate Origin]
The Koran says it was on a Tuesday that Allah created the darkness. On Tuesday, September 11 last year, two jets slammed into the World Trade Center in New York. Half a world away in Berlin, Radiohead were readying to go onstage at the Parkbuehne Wuhlheide. Over to Thom Yorke.
"So who here doesnt know about it?" he asks apprehensively after finishing a breathless Pyramid Song from the Amnesiac album.
"Everybody knows what Im talking about?" Theres silence for a response.
"Dunno what Im talking about? You dont know about the aeroplanes in America? You dont know " his voice trails and someone shouts out "s***" with the force of a fullstop.
"Somebody tell em," retorts Yorke with no anger.
"Ill tell ya. Well I cant remember it all now two two jets.. two ahhh three I dunno Ive lost count four jets? How many?" he turns to guitarist Ed OBrien who tells him it is four.
"Four jets," Yorke continues, "One crashed into the Pentagon. Two crashed into the World Trade Center. One got shot out the sky by the Americans " he turns to OBrien, "Youre saying it crashed as well?"
The crowd has taken all this quietly and now someone hollers "bulls***" much like the legendary "Judas" exclamation that got Dylan going in 66 at the Manchester Free Trade Hall. But tonight theres a great sadness in Radioheads performance.
"So thats why, yknow, things are a little mute tonight," Yorke apologises.
"Im sorry about that. This is called Paranoid Android."
Thom Yorke knows Radiohead are being recorded for an upcoming live album. But the band cant muster the energy to rock n roll. Instead they are reeling with their longer, moodier numbers like Dollars & Cents, Packt Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box, I Might Be Wrong and the aforementioned Pyramid Song from Amnesiac, itself an ambient-like, mood-altering collection of songs.
The performance is hesitant at first. The band had heard about the attacks in New York but the show must go on. And in a perverse way, Radiohead were the perfect band to reflect the hurt. Thom Yorkes voice is akin to the pleasure of pain. Theres an alchemy in his performance to transform the ordinary into pain. The songs off OK Computer tonight sound strained, tired. Karma Police, Climbing Up The Walls and No Surprises all echo of newfound tragedy.
But things really sink in after Radiohead play Paranoid Android. Suddenly, you realise how much feeling there is in the songs line "God loves his children" as the guitars rev to life. Disc Two opens with Idioteque and Everything In Its Right Place from Kid A, then melancholic versions of Like Spinning Plates and Lucky.
Theres also plenty of uncertainty on that fateful night about the tragedy. Before playing the melodic You And Whose Army, originally an attack on Englands premier Tony Blair, Yorke instead angles the song against the attackers as a show of defiance. He announces with some unease, "This all right, well eh is for the Bush Administration, I guess." Then the band follow that with Kid As How To Disappear Completely and leave the stage.
Brought back for an encore, Radiohead play a b-side, Talk Show Host, then close the show with the song from The Bends that transformed Radiohead into something more than a pop band, Street Spirit. Yorke reminds himself of the gravity of the situation.
"This is hoping George Bush doesnt declare World War III."
Sound quality is
great for an audience recording, lively with the ambience of the hall.
The tracks listed are incorrect. Disc One has 15 not 14 songs. Disc
Twos first track, Paranoid Android, actually ends the first disc.
As a bonus, there are six songs from a May 30 2001 show in Verona, Italy
with good sound. Radiohead recorded this show as well. Parts of it was
released on the official I Might Be Wrong live album in 2001. Maybe
someday, they will put it all out. - Michael Cheah
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