FINALLY... RADIOHEAD ARE BACK
New songs at first dates since 2004, but don’t expect an album this year…
MAY 6/7, 2006
Radiohead have showcased their new songs on a tour of tiny European clubs, but don’t expect to hear the new album until 2007.
Fans downloaded tracks over the weekend, which were played live for the first time at the tour opener at Copenhagen’s KB Hall (May 6-7).
Eight new songs were played on the opening night alone, including ‘Bodysnatchers’, ‘Open Pick’, ‘Spooks’, ‘15 Step’ and the lost classic ‘Nude’. The second night in Copenhagen saw another new song in the form of ‘Arpeggi’.
The majority of the tracks saw a return to the guitar-driven rock of the band’s mid-’90s commercial peak – the main exception being the dancy ‘15 Step’, which has a dark beat.
The biggest cheer from the new songs came for ‘Nude’, which they’ve recorded after attempting it for nearly 10 years, completely reworked, the track is now played on guitars instead of piano, and is set to be the centrepiece of any new album.
Other highlights included the instrumental ’Spooks’, played towards the end of the set, and ‘Bangers NMash’, a punky three-minute rock song which sees Yorke get behind the drumkit halfway through.
Although road-testing new songs, greatest hits featured too. On the opening night, it was heavy on songs from ‘The Bends’ and ‘OK Computer’, including a rare live performance of ‘Let Down’,
Anticipation surrounding the tour had been growing all week, after Thom and Jonny played at London KOKO (May 1) in aid of Friends Of The Earth’s Big Ask campaign. Three new songs were played semi-acoustic, and within minutes, audio and video files were being traded online. Fan websites had a huge surge in traffic as a result.
The bad news, however, is that despite having been in the studio with producer Mark ‘Spike’ Stent since January and being confirmed to headline the V Festival in August, there is unlikely to bean album out before the start of 2007.
A source close to the group said: “There are no plans for a Radiohead album release any time in 2006.” NME understands the group hope to release a download EP or single in the summer though to tide things over until the official album release.
This week the tour hits the UK, arriving in Blackpool this Friday (May 12), before visiting Wolverhampton and ending in London at the end of next week (18-19), See NME.COM, and next week’s issue for all the latest.
THE NEW SONGS: THE FIRST LISTEN
Bangers N mash
“What’s that for?” Thom joked before the first new song in Copenhagen. He’d spotted a drum kit at the centre of the stage, and was about to play it. One of the newest songs, ‘Bangers N Mash’ (working title) is a punky rock song similar to those on ‘The Bends’. Thom gets behind the drum kit for the last couple of minutes, and sings “I’ve got the poison” at the same time.
Another new song featuring three guitar parts, ‘Open Pick’ has a softer edge than ‘Bangers N Mash’ and is more commercial. Think ‘Where I End And You Begin’ from last album ‘Hail To The Thief’.
Easily the best of the new songs, which is unsurprising as they’ve been working on it for 10 years. Reworked for guitar rather than organ, Jonny and Ed trade guitar lines while Thom gives one of the vocal performances of his life, singing lines including “Don’t get any big ideas/They’re not going to happen”.
Based around a shuffling, grimey drum beat ‘15 Step’ is Radiohead being more experimental, like ‘Idioteque’ from ‘Kid A’, even on its first airing it sent the crowd wild, with Thom singing “Don’t take your eyes off the ball again” over the kind of instrumentation last seen on an MIA record.
4 Minute Warning
Thom on the grand piano, Ed on the acoustic guitar, and the rest crowd around for this campfire singalong. It’s going to be great, but when they played it in Denmark, they almost messed it up. “Sketchy” is how Thom described it at this early stage.
House Of Cards
One of the ‘older’ new songs, this was played by Thom live at a solo show last year. The band version features three guitar parts, and lyrically it deals with mundane everyday life. “Throw your keys in the bowl… forget about your house of cards,” Yorke sings.
Blink and you’ll miss it, this rocky instrumental is about a minute long, and the sound of Radiohead cutting loose and having a laugh,
“I’m trapped in this body and can’t get out” Thom sings on this, another of the older new tracks. A solo version that’s been doing the rounds online has again been given added guitars, which vastly improves it. They played this in the encore, suggesting it’s one of the band’s favourites.