Radiohead, with Liars, at White River Amphitheatre Aug. 20
British alternative rock band Radiohead plays White River Amphitheatre in Auburn with Liars on Aug. 20.
Seattle Times staff reporter
On the Internet
Radiohead: Watch the "Scotch Mist" video atyoutube.com (search "scotch mist").
RadioheadWith Liars, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, White River Amphitheatre, 40601 Auburn Enumclaw Road, Auburn; sold out.
The best band in the world plays Auburn Wednesday.
British alternative/experimental rock band Radiohead is on the fourth month of a triumphant tour of North America, Europe and Asia, behind its seventh album, "In Rainbows." It's arguably their best, and, if previous shows are any indication, songs from "In Rainbows" will comprise roughly half what should be about a two-hour White River Amphitheatre concert.
Which is sold out, by the way. Some 20,000 people said, "Who cares if I have to work Thursday morning? It's Radiohead."
They all want to see diminutive, lazy-lidded Thom Yorke (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano, electronics) freak out and sing perfect. They want the rest of the band (Jonny Greenwood, lead guitar, other instruments; Ed O'Brien, guitar, backing vocals; Colin Greenwood, bass guitar, synthesizers; Phil Selway, drums, percussion) to back him up with technical brilliance. They want Radiohead to be a genius band.
And, most likely, that's what they'll get.
Yorke will catch the ghost and spasm like a bleached electric eel. He'll stretch his pipes past pinched anguish, past frenzied tongues-speak, and land in the stars with that inimitable operatic falsetto. "Ghostly" doesn't get to the point. His vocals are only "Yorkian."
The other band members are masters, too. They play precise guitar rock and bravely explore much looser, weirder sounds. Jonny Greenwood is a star in his own right, owing to his suspenseful, minimalist score for the Oscar-winning film "There Will Be Blood."
For 15 years, Radiohead has been by far the most creative and challenging force in all pop music, not only reflecting the zeitgeist — by chronicling the many moods of existential alienation, by embracing all aspects of the digital revolution — but doing it better than anyone else. On a musical level, internationally, their only peer is Icelandic singer Björk.
Back in the '90s, Radiohead got famous in North America as an alternative rock band. They sounded like U2 from space and won Grammys. Songs from their first three albums, like "Creep," "High and Dry," "Karma Police" and "Paranoid Android," became instant classics.
In this decade, Radiohead has borrowed from jazz, dabbled in electronic music and ambient soundscapes, and won more Grammys. Those second three albums — "Kid A" (2000), "Amnesiac" (2001) and "Hail to the Thief" (2003) — had Radiohead creating new sonic universes, making "difficult-listening" music.
Then came "In Rainbows." Released online as pay-what-you-will at www.radiohead.com in 2007 — then earlier this year in North America at a regular retail price — it was a return to straightforward guitar rock you could tap your foot to. It wasn't dumbed down, but reigned in.
The best part about "In Rainbows" was its companion video, "Scotch Mist." It's "In Rainbows" performed in a practice space. Perfectly. Early proof that Radiohead was on a throwback movement, was done with studio wizardry, was ready to rock.
And that's the best thing about Radiohead right now. Deep into their insane 15-year reign, the best band in the world is delivering exactly the goods their millions of fans want.
Andrew Matson: 206-464-2153
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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