Live music: Radiohead at Primavera, Barcelona


When the Primavera Sound lineup was revealed at the end of January, it took a while to get past the first name on the poster: Radiohead. Even if they were the only band announced for the festival in Barcelona, it probably would have sold out anyway.

The likes of Parquet Courts, the Avalanches, Animal Collective, and Kamasi Washington only sweeten the deal. The crowd on day two is treated to a phenomenal set from Savages, as the anticipation intensifies for the main attraction.

Almost a month since unveiling ninth studio album, A Moon Shaped Pool, and having played a couple of shows in Amsterdam, Paris, and London, this is Radiohead’s first festival set in about four years.

They start with the opening quintet of songs from the new LP. ‘Burn the Witch’ is already anthemic, with bonus guitar solo thrown in for good measure, ‘Ful Stop’ and ‘Daydreaming’ are as gorgeous as you might expect, while ‘Desert Island Disk’ goes full Krautrock. With the marketing expo over with, it’s then that Thom Yorke, in leather jacket and hair tied in a bun, has some fun: ‘The National Anthem’ is electrifying, and ‘Karma Police’ draws a spine-tingling singalong.

Watching Radiohead isn’t like seeing any other band — it’s an experience. The crowd is quiet, respectful, awed. We get greatest hits from across the band’s history, and Yorke’s voice is never less than soaring and searing throughout.

A 40-minute double encore sees ‘Paranoid Android’, ‘2+2=5’, and ‘There, There’ . As the two-hour mark approaches, and fighting some switched-off monitors, they end with ‘Creep’. It’s an absolute triumph from first to last, and, with no visit to Ireland on their schedule yet, at least there’s a hefty Irish contingent here to witness it.


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