The sun had blazed down all day but inside 3Arena the mood was of artful gloom, writes Ed Power.
Radiohead’s first Irish concert in nine years found the anguished Englishmen touring their (comparatively) low-key Moon Shaped Pool album, a minimalist requiem partly informed by the dissolution of singer Thom Yorke’s long term relationship.
This was heavy going but Radiohead earned the moment with a performance of roiling intensity and gorgeous grandiloquence. It began with Yorke crooning the new LP’s keystone ballad Daydreaming in his fallen choirboy falsetto. His hair was tied into a manbun, his eyes, as they would remain through the evening, half-shut, as if to ward off a searing brightness.
Expanding rapidly outwards, the set pivoted into tumultuous greatest hits revue. With dry ice seeping from wings and still light casting jagged shadows, My Iron Long scaled melancholic heights and The National Anthem and No Surprises confirmed the quintet’s status as past masters of punter-friendly art-rock.
Radiohead are often lampooned for their self-seriousness. But there were flashes of humour here – "talk among yourself, that’s what I’m doing," quipped Yorke as his keyboard was tweaked – and even concessions to arena theatricality. As Jonny Greenwood’s guitar churned and kicked its way way through Idioteque, Yorke pogoed on the spot and encouraged the room to do likewise. At other instances, he genuinely appeared on the brink of shouting "let me see those hands in the air".
A nod to Dublin was meanwhile offered during the second of two encores in the shape of How To Disappear Completely, Yorke’s knotty dissection of an emotional breakdown at the Clarence Hotel, which got a cheer for the line "I float down the Liffey".
The band headline Glastonbury at the weekend. However, Dublin was in no way a warm-up. Rather Radiohead delivered two and a half hours of chilly rhapsody, confirming, along the way, their status as stadium pop’s most bewitching misanthropes.
— Oliver Callan (@olivercallan) June 20, 2017
Continued my record of seeing Radiohead every decade or so, and they were expectedly sublime. pic.twitter.com/PBtAuaUaRp— Barry (@bchpman) June 21, 2017