Tour Dates: June 18th-June 30th; later dates TBA
Opening Act: The Beta Band
Ticket Prices: $32.50-$40
Last October, Radiohead played just three North American concerts to mark the release of their enigmatic fourth album, Kid A. But those shows were a revelation, exposing rock & roll humanity coursing through the record’s loops and Thom Yorke’s alien vocals. Radiohead return to these shores thsi summer with a second batch of songs from the Kid A sessions, Amnesiac. The tour – a run through West Coast amphitheaters in June, followed by an August leg covering the East and Midwest – will be the first chance for many fans to see Radiohead perform the results of their three-year excursion into machine pop.
“In the past, what we’d done onstage was a Xerox copy of what’s been on our records,” says drummer Phil Selway. “But when we came out to play these new songs [last year], we found some new life in them.”
“You couldn’t do Kid A live and be true to the record,” adds guitarist Ed O’Brien. “You would have to do it like an art installation. But we were playing for people who were hard-core fans, who expect something more. When we played live, we put the human element back into it.”
Logistics prevent Radiohead from bringing the portable venue – a huge circus tent – that they played in on their European tour last year. And these summer shows constitute Radiohead’s only major American visit behind Amnesiac, a drastic reduction from the two grueling years of roadwork they put in for 1997’s OK Computer. “We’re doing less, concentrating on making sure what touring we do is more enjoyable and better quality,” says Selway. “Touring is a vital part of Radiohead, but you don’t want it to be your life.”
Joining Radiohead on the road is U.K. group the Beta Band, who will showcase material from their new album, Hot Shots II. “We never liked the idea of supporting people,” says vocalist Steve Mason, “but I think playing with Radiohead is a really good opportunity for us. All these bands from Britain have been touted as this amazing new thing that was going to save rock & roll. But I think our band and Radiohead can justify, not the hype, but the excitement that’s around us in America.”
This story is from the June 21st, 2001 issue of Rolling Stone.