Radiohead Blast Back Into Action at U.S. Tour Kickoff

Band rips through a killer set of new tunes, reinvented classics and rarities at Miami opener

March 29, 2012
Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs in Amsterdam.
Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs in Amsterdam.
Dimitri Hakke/Redferns via Getty Images

American Airlines Arena
Miami, Florida
February 27th, 2012

Radiohead said hello in Miami – the opening show of their first U.S. tour in four years – with a perfect description of their new state of rhythmic and creative elation: "Bloom," from 2011's The King of Limbs. "Open your mouth wide," Thorn Yorke sang with languid pleasure across a compelling tumult of percussion and murky jangle. A few minutes later, he was a bundle of nervous anticipation, dancing in place as he waited for drummers Phil Selway and Clive Deamer to count off the surge and staccato-guitar jolt of "Morning Mr Magpie." Three songs into the gig, the famously tour-phobic singer was clearly having a grand time.

This show was the culmination of a yearlong reinvention from the hermetic electronica of King of Limbs to the muscular reconception of that record road-tested last fall at New York's Roseland Ballroom with Deamer, who has played with Portishead. He is now integrated into a deeper portion of Radiohead's catalog, and the effect in Miami was renewing. The robotic suspense of 2000's Kid A now has legs. "There There," from 2003's Hail to the Thief, was all momentum, with wall-to-wall drumming that included guitarists Jonny Greenwood and Ed O'Brien on their own kits.

The set list drew heavily from The King of Limbs and 2007's In Rainbows. Radiohead also debuted two new songs. "Identikit" featured Yorke and O'Brien singing different spectral melodies over a hip-hop groove and Colin Greenwood's iron-straight bass pulse. "Cut a Hole" was a slow miniature with curt, clanging guitar. There was excavation, too: the OK Computer-era B-side "Meeting in the Aisle." Expect more of the fresh and the rare this year. Backstage before a final rehearsal, Yorke revealed that Radiohead have worked up more than 75 songs for this tour, including additional new songs and deep-track B sides.

Radiohead have returned to arenas with a spectacle worthy of the space, including an ingenious moving-image wall of 14,400 recycled plastic water bottles outfitted with LEDs. Yorke sent the crowd home with a singalong of "Karma Police," grinning as he walked off the stage. They are one of the best and most reluctant touring bands of the modern-rock era. But everything in Radiohead's drive, shine and delight tonight said they were glad to be back.

This story is from the March 29th, 2012 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Music Main Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »