7:40 PM. Thirty degrees. 2 empty bottles of water. 5 hours of waiting. Years and Years were quite good. James Blake was a disaster. So here we are, time for Radiohead, coming one by one onto the main stage in front of at least 45,000 screaming people for their only German date of their ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’ tour.
I admit, I’ve already watched a few of their previous gigs this year online and I know their set-list changes every time. Music fans will tell you that that’s a good thing. Radiohead fans will tell you that it’s really stressful. Now, it’s a Radiohead concert so everyone is going to be happy 3 hours after, softly singing their favourite song of the night as they leave, but when you’re an absolute fanatic, you want your songs.
They start with songs from their great new album, with ‘Burn The Witch’ and ‘Daydreaming’ getting the crowd into it, with everyone singing along. Their first hit comes as the sixth song begins: ‘2+2=5’, followed by ‘Reckoner’ from ‘In Rainbows’. The melodic ‘No Surprises’ follows, the first song of the night from ‘OK Computer’, their massive historic 1997 album. After almost an hour comes the moment you start fearing that your favourite song will never come. You know Radiohead will play a 2-and-a-half-hour set. You know they’re going to do two encores. Yet you are not able to relax and wait for your tunes. The show moves on with hits from the 2000 album ‘Kid A’, Radiohead is getting into the final run. Everyone’s phones are out, waiting for the last songs. Then my songs came, I was not disappointed after all. ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’, ‘Let Down’, ‘Paranoid Android’ playing in a row. Berlin became the best place in the world for music for that half hour.
After coming back for their second encore, frontman Thom Yorke asked the crowd, ‘Are you happy?’ What a foolish question. Maybe you should ask The 1975, playing right now on another stage for a crowd of the curious and agoraphobic. ‘That’s about to change’. The first notes of ‘Creep’ rang out and the field cracked under the joy of the whole audience. After more than six years not having played this song, Radiohead seems to still enjoy their ‘Pablo Honey’ hit. The crowd is on fire, everyone is shouting (badly, obviously, because of the impossibly high note of the final chorus) and the feeling is magic. The song ends, the applause is thunderous and everyone holds their breath waiting for the next song. And with the first note of ‘Karma Police’, here we go again. What a final, what a way to close a festival, what an emotional release.
With this AMSP tour, the band has done what they do best: becoming the best band in the world by reinventing themselves every year, and in doing so reinventing rock. All the next Radiohead’s shows are currently sold out but have no fear; we should see them back in England next year as the band has promised to tour again in 2017. Rumours for a headline slot at Glastonbury are also spreading.
This article was published in our September 2016 issue.