Sunday, July 06, 2008


1st July, 2008. Amsterdam, NL: Imagine this - we arrive in Amsterdam at about 4 in the afternoon, find a meter just over the canal from the Westerpark and step out the car. What do we hear above the noise of the trams and general hubbub of the city? The voice of Thom Yorke and the unmistakeable strains of Fake Plastic Trees. It was so surprising and so wonderful, we almost ran over the bridge to see what was happening. Quite a large group of people (they appeared to be Italians) were sitting at the entrance to the concert, chatting and drinking and taking no notice of the sound check going on inside. It was a glorious hot day and we walked around the periphery listening in awe to the sound of Thom's voice. The Westergasfabriek is a converted gas works and is a unique setting for an outdoor concert. If I hadn't got a ticket, the surroundings, the weather and the music alone would still have made it a memorable concert.
By 6.30 we were sitting in the circle area in front of the stage. The support band was Bats for Lashes but after 2 songs the guys next to me, sat down and started reading the newspaper. The music would be fine for an intimate hall or theatre, but was lost on a crowd like this. The singer sarcastically thanked the crowd for being so quiet. As the sun started to go down behind the stage, Radiohead came on and launched into Bodysnatchers. It took me a while to take it all in, transfixed as I was by Thom Yorke's appearance - short, red skinny jeans, black Fred Perry and stubble/beard. It was a bit of a shock. We weren't that far from the stage, but why oh why, are there always tall people in front of me. I was wild about an idiot in his cap that spent more time smooching with his girl than watching the show, I just don't get it. The music was beautiful and atmospheric, the crowd was fairly quiet. You could say, at times, it was spiritual. It felt like church especially with Thom singing songs such as All I need and Street Spirit. A reverent silence fell over the crowd as we watched in awe. It was awesome.
The sun was setting and the crowd turned colour with it. The stage lighting came into effect as the sky got darker. A cloud of marijuana was hanging above our heads and the songs followed in rapid succession. I didn't get the impression that they were playing for the crowd, but more for themselves. If there was some singing or clapping along, I thought Thom looked irritated. He sang the songs he wanted to sing, not the crowd pleasers. The Fake plastic trees from the soundcheck didn't make the set, neither did Paranoid Android. The weather, the setting and the band made this a truly memorable concert.

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