Radiohead “Creeps” back to Tampa

In case you missed it, the English rock band Radiohead brought its “In Rainbows” tour to the Ford Amphitheatre Tuesday. More than 17,000 fans welcomed the quintet as they emerged from under a cave of 30-foot-long LEDs.

The band performed a 24-song set list that spanned six of their seven albums. The furiously bright, flashing LEDs projected the full spectrum of the rainbow, providing the audience with one heck of a light show. With a stage packed full of dense fog and wavy laser beams, Radiohead’s new live show is proof that the band has come to know its audience well.

The band started off the show with “All I Need” from In Rainbows, but it was their second song, “There There,” from the band’s 2003 release Hail to the Thief, that really kicked off the event as guitarists Ed O’Brien and Colin Greenwood joined drummer Phil Selway on drums. The result was a symphonic crescendo into a very well-rehearsed show.

With seven studio albums under their belts, the English rockers no longer seem as weathered, either lyrically or physically, as they did after the creation and promotion of their acclaimed third album OK Computer in 1997-1998. Going triple platinum in the U.K. and double platinum in the U.S., OK Computer was the band’s introduction to global success. The band looked to be at the height of their musical sorcery Tuesday night, mixing psychedelic ambience with tooth-grinding grunge circa 1993.

What makes the band’s seventh album In Rainbows different from all the rest? The biggest difference was the way they released it – the album debuted as a digital download in October 2007. The band, which continually strives to reinvent itself, offered the digital download for whatever price consumers wanted to pay. The approach paid off, as In Rainbows debuted at No. 1 on both the U.K. and U.S. charts. The band even earned a spot in Time’s May 12 issue, which featured the 100 most influential people in the world, and noted Radiohead’s record industry-changing distribution model as well as their global success.

The band didn’t spare any energy in orchestrating a perfect ebb and flow of power and emotion at the Amphitheatre. As attendee and journalist Curtis Ross of The Tampa Tribune wrote in his May 7 review, “Radiohead Performs at Height of Powers,” Ross went on to write that “singer Thom Yorke looked close to cheerful.” Tuesday’s upbeat performance was a rare gem to be treasured by Tampa fans, whose last opportunity to see the English band was during the 1995-1996 tour. USF student and concertgoer Chris Pell took notice of the band’s vitality as well.

“The band just seems happier and it shows on their newest album. In Rainbows is easily their most accessible album to date and has been able to attract a lot of new listeners – an effect that is quite the opposite of albums such as Amnesiac and Hail to the Thief,” Pell said.

One highlight from the set list included “15 Step,” the first song of the new album. Playing in 5/4 time, drummer Phil Selway proved that he could match any computer-produced drum loop that composer Colin Greenwood could assemble. Even Thom Yorke took a turn on the drums, singing “Bangers and Mash” from the In Rainbows bonus disk from behind a small three-piece set. “Now you’re going to hear some real great drumming,” the usually withdrawn front man whispered. Florida fans demanded more, enticing the band to come out for two encores amid thunderous chanting and applause.

“When the band came back for the second encore and ripped right into ‘The Bends,’ people saw that the guys can still bring that same energy and passion into delivering amazing rock music,” Pell said. After an impressive seven-song encore, the band finally left the stage, leaving 17,000 fans with sore throats.

Radiohead announced that they will be heading back into the studio in October after the end of the tour.

“It’s the lifeblood of what we do, the thing that keeps you going. By the end of the tour, you’re bored of what you’re playing. You need more life and energy and the only way to do that is by writing new songs,” guitarist and background vocalist Ed O’Brien told BBC Radio. To the disappointment of fans, however, the BBC could not get O’Brian to hint about release dates. “It could be five years, it could be the end of this year – it’s whether it’s any good. That’s the point. We’ve just got to do it and see if it’s any good.”