I have to say one thing about the town Radiohead chose to kick off their UK tour – damn. We arrived early due to a mistake on my part (it wasn’t as far up the west coast as i thought). That was the longest latte I had in Starbucks ever. The Empress Ballroom is part of the Winter Gardens complex. A bit on the decrepit side but, if I’m not mistaken, this is where they do international level ballroom dancing competitions.

After the disappointment that was the town, we had two more at the venue. First, was the opening act. Willy Mason had a lovely voice and played his Gibson acoustic brilliantly. However, I didn’t feel like being in the mood for a ceilidh before watching one of Britain’s biggest rock acts. Second, the music played by the sound engineer was shite as well, reminiscent to my pre-Audioslave ragga experience. In fact, they did play fcukin’ ragga, fer feck’s sake.

Radiohead got onstage about twenty to nine with Everything In Its Right Place with Thom Yorke singing forlornly behind a Fender Rhodes. Soon after, the crowd went absolutely apeshit – The National Anthem and 2+2=5. I’ve not been heaved in a crowd since the days of watching Metallica in Newcastle! Phil Selway’s drumming was tight, and I wondered what was going through his mind of late, especially with the recent sudden demise of his mother.

The roadies literally pulled the Rhodes on and off stage for the various songs. What got me was when they frickin’ played The Pyramid Song. Watching them perform material from the Kid A and Amnesiac albums live just beggars belief. Jonny Greenwood’s twiddling of multiple stompboxes and playing the ondes martenot went to show how meticulous this band was in executing their material – How To Disappear Completely was just as haunting live as it is on the record.

They played a bunch of their new material (see setlist below). I have to say some of the uptempo new songs were reminiscent of the punk-esque attitude prevalent in their Pablo Honey stuff. Going full circle perhaps? Their older material were mainly from the The Bends and OK Computer era. Karma Police had the entire ballroom erupting in to one big sing-along. Idioteque was my favourite, and Thom didn’t disappoint with his ayam sakit otak dance. And yes, Jonny was with his switchboard. I wonder if The Neon still harbours the desire to obtain one from eBay.

I had always thought of Thom as one moody individual (if you read his interviews you’d know why), but he appeared rather affable if not funny on stage. The piano camera antic during You And Whose Army? was one of them moments. There There ended their main set with Ed O’Brien and Jonny G on percussions.

They played two encores, both packed with more rocking surprises from The Bends. Just was just the bomb. Forget Creep. Teach you to be a holy cow, indeed. Thom came out to play another new one for the second encore. To finish the set, they rocked the house with Paranoid Android. This set was way better than yesterday’s. As the saying goes, the second night is always the better night.

I was once informed that a Radiohead live show can tapau any other rock gig on the planet. It sounded like mere exaggeration at first, but with an incendiary two-hour set like this evening’s, I can die happy. By the way, I’m sure you’ve noticed by now how shoddy the photos are in this gig review. After doing a few reviews on this blog, I’ve decided for once to forsake perfectness for an evening of pure abandonment. How often do you get to watch a band of this magnitude in a 1000-capacity venue? Oh, what the hell, have one on me:

Empress Ballroom, Blackpool 13.05.06 set: Everything In Its Right Place / The National Anthem / 2+2=5 / 15 Step / Morning Bell / Pyramid Song / Go Slowly / Bangers n Mash / Dollars And Cents / How To Disappear Completely / Nude / Karma Police / You And Whose Army? / Airbag / Spooks / Idioteque / There There // [Encore 1] Just / Four Minute Warning / The Bends / Street Spirit // [Encore 2] I Want None Of This / Paranoid Android