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Concert Reviews:
Radiohead makes memorable, and rare, stop at Little Caesars Arena
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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DETROIT -- Radiohead doesn't come to Detroit very often -- just twice during the past 21 years, and not in the city proper since August of 1997.

But the British group certainly knows how to leave a lasting impression.

The quintet, with an extra percussionist on board for its WASTE Tour, maintained that standard on Sunday, July 22, at Little Caesars Arena. The 25-song, nearly two-hour and 10-minute show was a study in concert done right, from the group's tight, dynamic performances to a production that ran with clockwork precision as band members switched instruments and the crew kept a steady stream of gear flowing on and off stage, particularly for Jonny Greenwood, who seemed to be playing something different for each song.

The group also did an impressive job of making the wide-ranging set which drew from seven of Radiohead's nine albums -- sound seamless and cohesive amidst the broad sonic diversity of the individual songs, from propulsive guitar rockers such as "Airbag" and "The Bends" to electro-flavored fare like "The Gloaming" and "Bloom."

With frontman Thom Yorke sporting a T-shirt and man bun, Radiohead started the night on a gentle, ambient note, with mirror balls shooting lights throughout the arena as the band floated through "Daydreaming" and "Desert Island Disk" from 2016's "A Moon Shaped Pool" before "Ful Stop" and "2 + 2 = 5" picked up the pace. With a giant oval video screen mixing projections and live footage, Radiohead offered something for fans of any era of the group's career, with a slight emphasis on the mid 90s, including the "Hail To The Thief" album, celebrating its 15th anniversary this year. The sound mix, meanwhile, deftly defined the individual and disparate sounds coming from the stage, with Yorke's vocals kept slightly murky, as is the group's wont, but still forward enough to define the melody.

You could needle-drop the show and come up with a highlight, with plenty of quieter, pretty fare such as "All I Need," "No Surprises," "Street Spirit (Fade Out)," "Decks Dark" and "Fake Plastic Trees" alongside vibey discourses like "Separator" and the closing "Karma Police" and rhythmic adventures like "Videotape" and "Idioteque." And with "Bodysnatchers" and "Weird Fishes/Arpeggi" Radiohead reminded us the group can still rock with the ferocity of its British alt.rock colleagues from the mid-90s.

Yorke had little to say during the show, tossing in a few hellos and thank-yous between songs. He briefly introduced "The Daily Mail" with a slam of the tabloid press, but the frontman let the music do the talking -- convincingly. There's no telling when Radiohead, which last played the metro area during 2012, will make its way back this way again, but Sunday's show was potent enough to tide fans over until then.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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