THE BEGINNING

Their first UK show since 2012, and armed with LP nine ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’, this is the most at ease the Oxford band may ever have been.

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And so we have music. After the online queue that stretched from Camden to the moon (“you will be at the front in more than fifteen minutes,” the site said) and rumours of tickets changing hands for £6000, there was a brief digital disappearing act and, finally, an album. In the infinite buzz it was easy to forget that behind the hype are five men who simply write songs and play them.

Their first proper gig on home soil since the bloated, hit and miss O2 shows in the autumn of 2012, this was the Oxford quintet in more comfortable surroundings. With a capacity one seventh of the Dome’s 20,000, the Roundhouse is cosy by Radiohead standards and helped create an atmosphere that was both triumphant and intimate and a show that was a privilege to behold. For this isn’t the tense, uptight group of musicians that was painted into a corner by the press in the decade between ‘Pablo Honey’ and ‘Hail To The Thief’. Gone are the endless commercial commitments and backstage breakdowns recorded on Grant Gee’s 1998 documentary Meeting People Is Easy, replaced by a band who are quite clearly at peace with themselves. It shows, and it’s infectious.

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As has been the routine on this selective European tour so far, the band kick proceedings off with the first five tracks of ‘A Moon Shaped Pool’. Shorn of the col legno strings that drive the studio version forward, ‘Burn The Witch’ becomes a rawer, more muscular affair played live, with the addition of Clive Deamer on percussion propelling it into something tribal, perhaps suggestive of an earlier incarnation of a song that dates back to those difficult ‘Kid A’ sessions.

‘Daydreaming’, a delicate, intricate animal that seems like an impossibility in such an unforgiving setting is reproduced beautifully live as Yorke samples his own vocal to conjure up a wall of keening falsettos as the venue is held in hushed rapture, while ‘Decks Dark’ sees Ed O’Brien and Phil Selway filling the gap left by the London Contemporary Orchestra choir with impressive ease. ‘Ful Stop’ rounds off the mini set of new songs and affords Yorke, keyboard in hand, his first real opportunity to display the dance moves he’s been honing in earnest since that ‘Lotus Flower’ video. It’s also the first time we’re treated to the sight of Selway and Deamer really going for it, heads down, beavering away as their polyrhythms do battle. It’s going well and they know it.

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With half of LP number 9 conquered, it’s time for the greatest hits and a reminder of just how extraordinary the strength in depth of that back catalogue is, as ‘Lotus Flower’ gives way to cult favourite and one of the best B-sides of all time, ‘Talk Show Host’, complete with an extended coda as Yorke and Jonny Greenwood stand facing one another, dueling on their guitars for old time’s sake.

‘My Iron Lung’, ‘The Gloaming’, and ‘Exit Music’ are all trotted out effortlessly but the real stand out of the night is another new track: ‘Identikit’. A complex labyrinth of vocal melodies and sinewy guitar and bass lines, it throws off its shackles and becomes something more visceral on stage as O’Brien and Yorke weave in and out of each other, over and under.

“Right, we’re gonna stay the night and play everything,” Yorke declares in his best Cockney accent as the band come back on for the first of their now standard pair of encores. Even a false start on ‘Nude’ isn’t enough to pierce the magic. They laugh, shrug it off, and try again. It is, of course, perfection.

It’s all rounded off with a rousing performance of ‘Paranoid Android’, as if to simply show that they can. They have played for over two hours and no one, it’s clear, wants to go home. With another two nights to come, they know they’re unlikely to find £12,000 down the back of the sofa.

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