By Jacqueleen Eng
There’s something magical about Madison Square Garden. There’s something comforting in ascending one, two, three, and finally four escalators before peering out the glass windows and realizing how far you are from everything. How far up your seats are, even though you woke up early to try to snag these tickets. (Section 224, baby.) How far Thom Yorke will be from you. How the beer is reasonably priced at $12.50. But you shrug it off because you’re about to see one of the greatest bands of all time.
I went to the show with my friend TaeHo. Originally from South Korea, I can confidently say that TaeHo is one of Radiohead’s biggest fans. At our seats when we were waiting for the band to go on he turned to me and said, “I believe in Radiohead, like a religion” and while that sounds ostentatiously melodramatic, coming from him it’s sincere and it’s also probably something the other true fans out of the 18,000 people there could understand. I’ve listened to Radiohead, and I obviously like them enough to see them in concert, but I am far from an expert. Seconds into every song, TaeHo would tell me what album it was from, but I soon learned that I didn’t need to know.
If you know anything about Radiohead, then you know they’re kind of depressing, boring to some, but the performance was anything but that. Starting off with “Burn the Witch” from their 2016 release A Moon Shaped Pool, the band played the first five tracks from the album before jumping into “Lotus Flower” from The King Of Limbs. In between songs the band adjusted their instruments to fit each track, and this was crucial in keeping with their intended sounds. In addition to creating maybe depressing, maybe boring music, Radiohead crafts their songs with intense precision that can only be difficult to recreate in a live setting.
The setlist featured a variety of songs from their discography, which makes sense for a band that has so many critically acclaimed albums. I asked TaeHo how likely it would be that they play “Creep” and he said they hate playing that song and haven’t done so since 2004. So when the encore opened with “Let Down” from OK Computer, which they haven’t played since 2006, the crowd lost it, and they did play “Creep” the show the day after. By playing older songs and expanding into older albums, it made the experience special and felt like they were saying a respectful thank you to the fans like TaeHo who will continue to believe in them and their music.