At the risk of sounding stale, and conformist, a certain band from Oxford happily turd from a great height on nearly everything else around, still, ten years and more on. Despite mild derision for green credentials (good on them, fuck all other bands give a toss), or middle-class roots (so what), and the usual criticism for staying to the same musical path (variations, imo, on a wonderful theme), they are still one of the most important bands on the planet. I can’t think of many others that have consistently produced interesting, edgy music over such a long period of time, and through changes in style and method that would’ve alienated many others fans to nothing.
And seeing them live is the pinnacle of the experience. I was lucky enough to catch them at V in 2006 (though sadly, not Glasto in 1997) and the anticipation with which I greeted their return to London in Victoria Park this June. There was the backdrop of the ‘free’ album (I bought the box-set, of course) and some lukewarm reactions to the album (it’s a grower, and as good as anything that’s about at the moment), they mesmerised for over two hours, two encores, and a set that dipped into tracks all the way back to the Bends (My Iron Lung, The Bends…. still magical).
They really are an ethereal experience live, Yorke’s voice somehow being otherworldly, not fitted to his slight frame or meek appearance, but onstage, he, and the others, become more than the sum of their parts. Playing Karma Police was a personal highpoint, bringing goosebumps to the neck and tears to the eyes, (too many memories and people to go into really) and finishing with Paranoid Android capped it all off almost perfectly. If it hadn’t taken 2 hours to get home then it’d have been 10/10. So, it’s a 9.9 instead.
I may be in my thirties and middle class, but then I’m their perfect demographic, so no-one’s going to tell me they’re anhything but the best band in the world. And anyone that disagrees, they’re just plain wrong. Cool beans, eh?