I left Punchestown feeling distinctly downbeat and subdued long before the final encore. My expectations of Radiohead’s last show in Dublin had been high… a purpose built arena, 150,000 volts, a genuine freakshow and one of the biggest bands around.
All the essential elements for a memorable occasion were there but sadly it was unconvincing, self indulgent and without cohesion. Karma Police, No Surprises and Paranoid Android were exquisite but these were rare beacons in a sea of mediocrity. Radiohead’s new material doesn’t contain melodies or guitar riffs to die for. For the most part, the new material is simply bland and uninteresting. Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood, in particular, worked relentlessly throughout the show but were unable to compensate for the shortcomings of their newest material. This band are capable of so much more and they surely know it.
Thom sang a full song through his acoustic guitar. It was painful to watch. For a band that claim to be constantly misunderstood, Radiohead don’t believe in making life easy for themselves. I’d heard reports of a spectacular light and laser show and immediately thought of past Pink Floyd concerts. Visually, Radiohead are not in the same ballpark – not by a long chalk. The Thom Yorke wannabees sang and chanted their way through the few songs they recognised (and greatly irritated those of us who wanted to hear the man’s every word). The ensuing frustration was compounded by a poor sound system.
Radiohead have embarked on a strange journey with Kid A. It will no doubt receive critical acclaim but there’s a danger that they’ll alienate many people along the way.