Tonight in Perth, Radiohead are given a major-league welcome which quickly swells as “Airbag” unveils a huge, immaculate sound that reflects every gig of the band’s eight solid months on the road.
The punters who caught the ’94 Perth show are gobsmacked to note the spectacular recreation of the technophobic atmosphere of “OK Computer”, the band engulfed in dim stage lighting and a permanent haze of smoke, cut by ingeniously manipulated beams of colour. Jaws hang limp as, beyond the smoke and glare, the five silhouettes telepathically unite and “My Iron lung”, “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” and “Paranoid Android” are executed flawlessly, without a single musician falling over.
For two solid hours, the energy and emotion contained within the 8,000-seat venue is somewhere on the explosive side of intense. And yet, in accordance with the band’s wishes, nobody moshes.
LATER, Radiohead’s final Australian concert justifies all of the elated reviews of its precedents. Yorke’s extraordinary voice is in flawless form, from crushed murmur to powerhouse falsetto, space-defying operatic projection standard. Ed O’Brien pitches the occasional back-up vocal to perfection while Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway keep reins on the band’s astonishing rollercoaster of dynamics.
Critically, Radiohead’s slick professionalism makes room for all the human emotion which songs like “Exit Music (For A Film)”, and “Climbing Up The Walls” demand. The audience responds in kind, spontaneous roars of appreciation inserted wherever they fit, not just at the end of a song.
“Bones”, “Just” and a stunning “Fake Plastic Trees” end the main set on a high enough note to warrant half an hour of encores which range from B-side “Polyethylene” to “Creep”. The latter is surprising given that in Adelaide two nights ago, Yorke stopped the song mid-way due to general lack of interest.
A man of few words throughout, tonight he turns effusive as the two-hour show draws to a close, thanking us profusely and sharing his longing for home prior to a solo acoustic version of “Thinking About You”. As he did during “Karma Police” earlier on, he thinks nothing of stopping during the first verse and starting over – with feeling.
Yorke’s bizarre, sideways whipping motion is a memorable visual image of the show, but it’s wild card Jonny Greenwood who carries the brunt of Radiohead’s live brilliance. All fringe and bony angles, he spends the gig dragging his slight frame from synthesiser to organ to xylophone, then casually strapping on his guitar for another of the astral riffs which make “Lucky”, “You” and “Paranoid Android” such eye-watering events.