August 26, 2008

Backtracking - Part 1: Radiohead in Charlotte (05/08)

The day after MB's birthday, we headed down to Charlotte to catch Radiohead at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater. We hadn't seen the boys from Oxford since the last show of the 2006 tour at the Heineken Music Hall in Amsterdam so we were pretty amped up for the show. They didn't disappoint. After all, how could a show like that be anything short of mind blowing when you've managed to score pit tickets and you end up watching the show 10 feet from the stage.

Here's how they looked with a little zoom...

...and this is how close they looked to the naked eye.

As would turn into a familiar theme throughout the tour, there was a little rain. Apt for an album named In Rainbows. Fortunately, we were on the very edge of an enormous storm and managed to escape with only a short drizzle. Later on, we found out a few tornadoes touched down just north of the venue.

Before the show began, we made friends with a pair of dudes standing near us. One was a fellow ND alum and the other works about 4 blocks away from my office in NYC. By the end of the first set, we had agreed to purchase their tickets to the Montreal show later in the tour which they couldn't use. And that's when we made the reckless decision to follow Radiohead all over the east coast in the summer of 2008 was laid.

Oh, and of the 4 of us, we managed to grab 2 setlists.

I guess they couldn't decided between Exit Music and No Surprises (crossed out)

Recycled paper. Go figure.

Clay, our new friend from New York City, cheered as loud as the rest of us when the show was over but as Ed left the stage at the end of Everything In It's Right Place, he put his hand on a C-note and got into position. When the first list landed in the audience, he landed right behind next to it. I can't imagine giving up a setlist for a band like Radiohead for a measly 100 bucks but I gotta believe the shock and awe of this well formulated plan simply overwhelmed the poor bastard.

By the time Clay came back to celebrate his victory, MB had managed her way up against the rail. Maybe it was because she was screaming "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY!" at the top of her lungs, or perhaps it was just her feminine wiles, but when the roadie picked up Jonny's sheet, he crumpled it up and tossed it right to Mary.

Time seemed to slow down as I watched the ball of paper arc through the air. As it deflected off my wife's hands into the no-mans-land between the rail and the stage, I have to admit I briefly lost faith in my wife. But as the security guard reached down to pick it up, I remembered that her powers of persuasion are much better than her ability to catch. Moments later, we were deliriously pushing our way out of the crowd still assembled in front of the stage, eyeing everyone around us like they were Slugworth.

As for the performance, its hard for me to describe without comparing it to the other shows I caught this summer but there are a few things that come to mind when I look at the set. First, we heard a number of the In Rainbows songs in a very raw state at the Amsterdam gig and the legendary 28-song Bonnaroo show during the 2006 tour. By the time they'd finished Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, it was clear that they'd worked out all of the kinks in the interim. At the same time, it was obvious that this was only the fourth show of the tour.

As for particular songs, I just about lost my mind when they went into Planet Telex. I was also pretty luck to catch Talk Show Host for the second time, the first one coming at the MSG show on 10/10/2003. And how do I properly describe the light show. It was unlike anything I've seen before. True to form, they waited until the very end of the show to unleash their most impressive visuals as the entire system went "in rainbows."

In Rainbows

Quite possibly one of the best pictures I've ever taken.

1 comment:

Mary said...

I think this might be my best birthday memory ever... its going to be hard to top a b-day "gift" of a radiohead setlist... priceless!