As Radiohead have become more difficult and esoteric, their fans only become more rabid and devoted. These days, Thom Yorke’s band of misfit robots regularly fills arenas and throws the Internet into a full-on tizzy with each fresh note played.
Such has been the case over the past week, as the band has begun its latest North American trek and pulled the curtain back on a few new songs. The first, “Identikit,” surfaced on the tour’s opener in Miami a few nights ago. It’s a claustrophobic Radiohead groove, with their now-patented wash of keys, bloops, and bleeps filling in the spaces between Yorke’s hypnotically alluring warbling. Give it a listen below.
At that same show in Miami, the group also played "Cut a Hole" for the first time. It's as slow-burning as the band gets, with some haunting voices propping up a lurching backbeat.
At a show in Dallas two nights ago, Yorke introduced a new song called “Skirting on the Surface.” Sounding much more in step with Radiohead’s latter-day work, “Skirting on the Surface” has a spooky, spare groove with a vocal line that hints at melody but is mostly an opportunity for Yorke to indulge in his many vocal tics. And is there a hint of a rocksteady groove in there, with a bridge that sounds a bit like a steel drum? Just call them Rastahead!
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Radiohead have also been trotting out a number of oft-forgotten rarities, like “Meeting in the Aisle” (from the Airbag/How Am I Driving? EP) and “The Amazing Sounds of Orgy,” which was leftover from the Amnesiac sessions.
Honestly, it’s difficult to tell what’s really going on in these songs, as the recordings are hardly top-notch. Plus, as we’ve learned in the past, live versions of Radiohead tunes tend to sound dramatically different once the band hits the studio (anybody who heard the versions of the In Rainbows songs that were test-driven live before they were recorded can testify to that fact).
More importantly, two things jump out. First, that stage and lighting rig is awesome. Second, doesn’t it seem like Yorke is having a lot of fun up on stage? The dude is at his best when he’s at his most “Lotus Flower”-dancing playful, which means that this run should be particularly satisfying. And even if you’re a fan who thinks they have fallen off, they’re still ripping through “Paranoid Android” on a regular basis. (No love for “Just,” though. Bummer.)
What do you think of the new Radiohead tunes? Does the promise of new music make you more likely to head to the show? Don’t leave us high and dry in the comments.
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