WE HAVE 'LIFT' OFF!
RADIOHEAD Oxford Zodiac Club
"IF YOU see me in the centre of Oxford and I'm not very nice to you, I'm sorry."
Five years into a career with the trajectory of a space shuttle, Thom Yorke shrugs at his friends and adepts the mantle of the arrogant, anti-social pop star with open arms.
Five years of pressing flesh and chewing corporate fat. Of arena sell-ouls and haircuts bordering on the criminal. Of pouring every ounce of personal anguish into some of the most groin-munchingly beautiful songs of the decade yet still becoming notorious worldwide as The 'Creep' Guy. A barrel-load of undiluted bitterness with a double egotism chaser? Mmmm...
Fifteen minutes into a so-secret-MI5-couldn't-get-a-ticket hometown gig, several hundred of Thom's ex-friends shrug at each other and welcome him back into the Hall Of The Immortal Rock God with open lungs.
Tonight, he's a homecoming Caesar made all the more heroic by the fact that - despite being the first British rock band in years for whom 'US hit' didn't translate as 'Welcome to Cloud Cuckooland, Santa' - although Oasis broke America the 'Head fractured it first.
Thom doesn't act the underdog tonight, of course. Instead he swaggers onstage, hands thrust regally in pockets, and blasts through 'Planet Telex' like a punk Tony Parsons who'd informed us that pop was dead a good two years in advance. And they've packed the kind of self-confidence heavy artillery that Suede would give their mam's best blouse for.
Oh, and the new songs are a touch on the bloomin' magnificent side as well. While rampant soarathons like 'Black Star', 'Fake Plastic Trees' and 'My Iron Lung' prove that Thom'n'pals probably make packed lunches in an epic fashion, newies like the sublime 'Little Drummer Boy' stomp of 'I Promise', the country-ish 'Subterrainean Homesick Alien', and 'Lift' - the most scrumptious summer anthem since, oooh, around June 14, 1856 - bury the barbed U2 comparisons under a mountain of heavy-duty guitar invention.
Not even Johnny's [sic] stylish arm-brace accessory (hey! Limb damage is IN for '97!) can dull the cocky cacophony tonight. With spirits orbiting Saturn, Thom calls for requests and snorts at anyone foolish enough to ask for 'Creep'. Instead, they fade out with a scorching 'Stop Whispenng', a searing axe riot and a whispered, "F--- you". Pop is dead, friends - start shouting.