Radiohead Parc Jean Drapeau Montreal

I’m tempted to go into detail how the blackout affected this technophile’s life but … it didn’t. I decided to desert my home province for the electricity of Quebec. I’ve been to Montreal a few times but never in a situation where I could do what I wanted (twice with parents and the other time with a drunken bus tour, but that’s another blog … so my friend and I walked up and down St. Catharine Street waiting for the concert to start …

… oh I didn’t mention the concert? Radiohead at Parc Jean Drapeau!! After going to see Red Hot Chili Peppers in May, this concert was a lot different. To be fair it was an outdoor concert so I should have expected it to be more like Lollapalooza or something.

Before the concert they played a rock-reggae blend band from CD I’d never heard before. Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks was the sole opening act. They were alright, nothing too special or original, so I don’t have much to say about them. :) It was hard to see the stage, because the sun was setting right behind it so I mostly just listened.

Half the crowd wandered around until Radiohead came on. A lot of pot was smoked, which wasn’t a big surprise I guess … you could see wafts of it coming off the crowd … we drove home that night reeking of pot and we didn’t smoke.

Unlike Lollapalooza, there were no beer tents. Beer was served in the audience and everywhere courtesy of our friends at Molson. Not too many people were drunk either. The typical Radiohead crowd isn’t going to get into a drunken riot like say, hmmmm, a drunken Limp Bizkit crowd. So I guess no one was worried about it.

Radiohead came on about 8 o’clock and started out playing songs from the new album (see the set list). The newer songs were faithful to the album versions, which was kind of disappointing … I like to see some creativity on live versions. However, the way that the album was recorded (quickly and less-produced than Kid A or Amnesiac) meant that the songs sound more like the live versions they practised before recording I guess. They have years to improvise the new songs.

The older songs they played were improvised mostly by Thom and Johnny. Thom’s dancing was incredible — he has so much energy on stage. Sometimes it was full out dancing and other times it was gyrating at the mic or his patented head-bobbing. Johnny went into some wildly improvised solos with strange guitar effects. The other guys even cut Johnny off, when he soloed too long — which started the crowd chanting Johnny’s name in appreciation.

They used looping a few times to create backgrounds sounds. At the start of the song Thom would sing a few words into the mic and they’d be mixed (sometimes unrecognizably) into the background of the song, like you’re watching/hearing the song being “assembled”.

My favourite song of the night was an up-tempo version of “Everything is in Its Right Place” during the second encore. Before that, the crowd sang the chorus to Karma Police so well (and loud) that Thom decided to sing the chorus again a capella with the audience, which was cool.

The crowd never got wild, even in front of the stage during songs like 2+2=5 or Just. They were mostly subdued and relaxed … but I guess that’s the typical Radiohead fan for ya. Half of the concert was slower stuff from HTTT, Kid A and Amnesiac. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect people to go crazy … it was just different from other concerts I’ve been to.

So it was definitely worth the money — a jolly good show. The t-shirts at 40 bucks a pop were not though. I will definitely see them again …. maybe they will come to Ottawa next tour.

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