The Null Device

2004/4/27


I went to the Radiohead show at the Rod Laver Arena tonight. Originally I was thinking of giving it a miss (spending 2 hours staring at The Cure through binoculars from half a kilometre or so away turned me against huge venues), though I ended up going; and I'm glad I did.

First up were the night's "special guests"; some JJJ alternative band neither I nor the indie kids next to me recognised. Rather energetic, punky and syncopated, though not impressive enough to make me hunt down their details and start following them around.

Then they stopped, having played for maybe half an hour (assuming that they started at 8; they were playing when I took my seat). While the stage was being set up, someone had decided to put a reggae CD on the PA; an odd choice, though pleasant enough.

Then Radiohead went on, and launched into There There. They did most of Hail To The Thief, a few older songs (Paranoid Android, No Surprises, Pyramid Song and Kid A were there, along with some from The Bends; one thing they didn't play, which would have been nice, was their piano-driven live version of Like Spinning Plates, though one can't have everything). It was quite an impressive set. Thom sang, danced around, played guitar, and played a grand piano which the roadies kept moving back and forth between songs; the other members did guitar, bass, Mellotron and glockenspiel, as well as providing harmony vocals. (I think it's the harmony vocals that really make Radiohead's sound. That and half a dozen other things, anyway.) They did an encore with about 3 songs in it, and finished up with a version of Kid A Everything In Its Right Place with Thom singing, then another member looping his voice through effects pedals or similar and chopping it up; then Thom walked off, while his digitally mangled vocals were playing; it was like a Blue Monday for the 21st century. Oh, and the light show wasn't bad either.

This time I got a slightly better seat than at the Cure gig; it was a few rows closer to the front (not that that made a huge dent in the distance), and was right in the middle. I discovered that my PowerShot G2's 11x digital zoom wasn't quite enough (I didn't manage to get any good close-ups of band members, save what was on the giant video screens beside the stage).

(Gig photography tip: Be sure to manually set the exposure time when taking photos. Digital cameras' automatic modes tend to err on the side of overexposure, leading to washed-out, blurry pictures. 1/100 to 1/160 was a good range for the pictures above.)

And I was not the only one taking photos, by the look of it. Below, the sea of heads that was the general admission area was dotted with the telltale glowing white rectangles of digital camera screens. In the row in front of me, one cheeky bugger was even telecasting it on his 3G phone to a mate.

gigs photos radiohead 6