RADIOHEAD / THE BLUETONES
LA CIGALLE, PARIS
OUR third visit to La Cigalle and a third abject failure to snatch a rude perusal of the Sexathon round the corner. Front 242, The Young Gods, and now Radiohead – each radically different, wholly explosive and utterly of their time. In a word, redemptive. And well worth skipping a desultory stripshow for.
We have a feeling any show at La Cigalle would piss on its London equivalent. Like a tiny Albert Hall it allows a crowd absolute access. They can crush up against a band, surround and overhang them, sweat and drool down upon them, be heard. Poised regally on the balcony at the back, we hacks begin to feel a little like Domitian. “A beer, Imperator?” “With a splash of lime, Your Inestimable Worthiness.” This is the life.
The crowd themselves are ever-keen, apparently up for anything that comes their way. And though initially it seems few here are entirely au fait with The Bluetones rapidly expanding oeuvre, they take to it immediately. Mark Morriss is really the author of this. Less authoritative than Ian Brown, less hyperactively charming than Jim Burgess, he nonetheless has a sufficient handle on his arched-back shimmies and Jagger-style claps to build an impressive intensity.
This has become an imperative since, around him, his brother Scott and guitarist Adam Devlin keep to their recent promise and never permit their sparkling tunes to be buried beneath a barrage of noise and feedback. The result is a pure rush of pop. “Bluetonic”, “Slight Return” and the latest unexpected success, “Cut Some Rug”, race past, the crowd, clearly touched and feeling their way, beginning to sing along once each chorus is reached for the second time. The day when “The Fountainhead” rings out around the Parque des.Princes may not be far away. (“Champagne, Incomparable One?” “With a dash of cassis, Your Panicstriking Enormity.”)
The reception received by Radiohead is unbearably shrill and almost embarrassingly uncontained. And, quite naturally under the circumstances, Thom Yorke laps it up. If anything’s going to make him feel better about things, it’s probably this. Where earlier on the Eurostar platform he’d stood hunched and tiny, lost in an ill-fitting overcoat and massive black woolly hat, now he dominates this arena, staring down an audience that threatens to envelop him.
Tonight he delivers the cream of Radiohead’s terrifying repertoire, pumping it up beyond all reason, crowd participation peaking with an almighty, “DON’T LEEMEE IIlIIGH”. “Creep”, as ever, is a communal catharsis, “The Bends” an emotional massacre. Three new numbers, each an acetylene-injected, madly vertiginous high, only confirm Radiohead’s burgeoning reputation as the (second?) greatest rock band this country has produced in years.
Afterwards, quaffing baby lagers at a cafe down the road, bassist Colin Greenwood is justifiably enthused. “Rocket fuel, Your Improbable Magnificence?” “Oh, go on. Just this once.”