Last time Radiohead played San Francisco, they had a hard time
selling out the 1,200-capacity Fillmore. This time, there were
fans begging for tickets outside the larger Warfield theater.
Radiohead's day has come and their performance last night at the
Warfield proved it. As more than 2,000 (mostly newfound) fans screamed, cheered
and clapped, the band dove full-force into song after glorious song.
Radiohead opened with the stunner, "Lucky," a dark, melodic tune that had
everyone in the crowd silent and at full attention. The band played every
song but one from their new album, O.K. Computer, and more than half of
their previous release, The Bends.
If the new album doesn't get you, Radiohead's live
performance will. It was clear that a good few people in the audience were
only familiar with the band's current single, "Paranoid Android," but
one look at singer Thom Yorke's spastic, convulsive stage presence
probably made them fans for life.
Yorke jerked around almost uncontrollably
as he howled out the lyrics to the songs in his honey-glazed operatic
vocals as the other band members followed his lead, never missing a beat.
Well, OK...the band did re-start the song "Electioneering" a few notes
into it on Yorke's order because something didn't sound right. But
watching the band stop, regroup in a half-a-second and start right back
into this rather complicated song made it clear how tight these guys are
and how in tune they are with each other.
Radiohead has suddenly become the "band's band," and this show was
no different. ATN newsguy Gil Kaufman swore to me that he spotted
Metallica's Kirk Hammett in the crowd, and I bumped into both the drummer and bass player
from the Dutch band, Bettie Serveert, who had played a gig in San Francisco the night
before. Not surprising, because judging from their stellar musicianship
and razor-sharp performances, Radiohead is quickly becoming THE band to
emulate. Was that a pad and pen in Kirk's jacket pocket?
In pure Radiohead style, the band topped off their two-hour-plus
performance with not one, not two, but three encores, and the ear-piercing
squeals from the audience made it clear that they could've handled a few
more. Yorke walked on stage solo and did "Thinking About You," an acoustic
number that would be the only song performed from their debut album, Pablo Honey. No "Creep," much to the (surprise!) relief of the audience members. With two newer albums loaded with better material, it seems people are
finally getting over the band's 1993 MTV hit single.