“It’s been a very long day,” Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke told the 312 very lucky fans inside the legendary BBC Radio Theatre last night. The boys from Oxford spent the entire day promoting their recent album In Rainbows and playing a pair of warm-up concerts for their upcoming tours of Europe and North America. For those not fortunate enough to win free tickets drawn from a massive lottery pool, the day’s events were broadcast live on the BBC’s Radio Two.
Radiohead opened the matinee show with the first two tracks from In Rainbows, “15 Step” and “Bodysnatchers.” The band sounded sharp, only missing a beat near the end when they dipped into Kid A for “Morning Bell” and “Optimistic.” Not pleased with the latter’s sound, Radiohead recut the tune as an encore. “We were getting off on playing it — and then we weren’t getting off on playing it,” explained Yorke to a crowd that was more than up for hearing another take.
The evening show — heavy on material from In Rainbows and OK Computer — will likely be what fans see on the upcoming tours. The night began with another run through of the rocking “Bodysnatchers.” Dreamy IR tunes such as “All I Need” and “Nude” demonstrated that all Radiohead shows should be in small venues as the quaint theatre proved ideal for Yorke’s unrivaled vocals and the mind-tweaking sound effects that Jonny Greenwood injects into the mix. As the hour-long set neared an end, the band launched into a grand, inspired version of “Lucky” that is sure to be on set lists of the upcoming arena gigs. Following a false start to “Everything In Its Right Place,” Yorke and drummer Phil Selway coordinated to close the set with the audience standing and clapping to the classic tune. BBC host Mark Radcliffe cajoled Yorke and guitarist Greenwood to return and end their exhaustive day with an acoustic version of “Faust Arp.”
Both concerts are available for streaming on the BBC’s Web site. For the next seven days, the band will also be offering a free download of “Videotape,” culled from the afternoon performance. Radiohead arrive in West Palm Beach on May 5th for the first leg of their North American Tour.