Published Aug 07, 2008Radiohead's presence as a touring artist is what one envisions as an almost enigmatic experience, with the concept of their live show existing in the realm of dreams. The span of two years between their most recent appearance in Canada and last night's performance may as well have been 20 years, as the anticipation was astronomical, and nobody knew quite what to expect as they waited in the pouring rain outside Montreal's Parc Jean-Drapeau. New York openers Grizzly Bear didnt connect, playing to a generally disinterested audience who were eager only for the headliners. Their performance lacked any sort of particular dynamic, which unfortunately dampened the already overcast mood, the songs blending together with similar themes and repetitive structures. The band were unsuited for the stadium rock situation, with their music catering more to a situation in which they can assume a more relaxed performance role. The time between sets was hurried along by the sporting back-and-forth of frustrated spectators hurling water bottles at those who dared to raise their umbrellas. This was followed by victorious cheers from the crowd every time an umbrella was lowered, but the rain failed to subside until halfway through the headliners' set.
After a minimal delay, the members of Radiohead arrived onstage to the overwhelming fanfare of thousands of ecstatic fans. The stage was magically decorated with myriad vertically hanging light fixtures, which swelled with colour and recalled the performances of more innovative Daft Punk-esque light shows. The hanging tubes rained, became fireflies and flashed rainbows throughout the performances. With anticipation at climactic levels, the set began with the obvious In Rainbows opener, "15 Step and panned erratically across the bands' back catalogue, keeping mostly to the material from OK Computer and later albums. A highlight of the performance was the side-stage LED Screens, which usually exist in outdoor concerts as an eyesore. These were divided into sections, which gave aesthetically comfortable views of each of the band members, and coloured in accordance with the stage's lightshow, resembling a graphic novel view of a band whose members are characters as much as actual people. The set list failed to disappoint fans of any Radiohead era with desirable performances from all albums including "Fake Plastic Trees, "Paranoid Android, "Idioteque, "Morning Bell/Amnesiac and "The Gloaming. None of the crowd favourites were forgotten, and the show went into double encore without dragging at any point. The lucky few that got tickets to the Toronto show next week can rest assured that it will certainly have been worth the wait.