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Matson on Music

Music news, concert reviews, analysis and opinion by music writer Andrew Matson.

April 10, 2012 at 7:35 AM

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Concert review: Radiohead unremarkably good at KeyArena

Fans lining up beforehand; photo by me

It was one of those concerts that was unremarkably good. The best song at the Radiohead show Monday night at KeyArena was "Everything in Its Right Place," a soft synthesizer ballad which the British rock band transformed into a thumping dance jam. It took a show that already felt underwater a few leagues deeper.

Seventeen thousand people pulsed like a school of fish to the music. The concert was occasionally boring, which can happen with drone-y performances. Some audience members yawned while mimicking singer Thom Yorke's spastic, shoulder-shimmy dance style on "Everything In Its Right Place." But mainly Radiohead lived up to its reputation as the modern rock band of our era.

The sextet (typically a five-piece, but with an extra drummer on this tour) ripped through guitar rock anthem "Airbag" from 1997, sounding every bit as space-age and grand as it did in the '90s — and far better than popular radio bands (such as Muse), who ape the same sound today. On one song, guitarists Ed O'Brien and Jonny Greenwood also played small drum sets. With four people pounding, it was a muscular sound. Every note was intentional and often restrained. The sound was both heavy and light.

"Pyramid Song" put Thom Yorke behind a piano, singing with no other accompaniment, his tenor voice projecting through the hushed arena. Then Phil Selway's jazzlike drums came tumbling over the top with a kick you could feel in your chest.

Yorke hardly talked to the audience at all. He wasn't standoffish, though. He did say something sweet toward the end about Greenwood.

"We'd like to dedicate this one to Jonny, because he's got a messed up hand today," said Yorke. "He's really struggling."

Greenwood showed no outward sign of struggle but does suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Yorke and company then played "Reckoner" from 2007, whose lyrics made the concert universal: "This is dedicated to all you / all human beings."

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