Radiohead–The National Anthem (Live at the BBC)

Radiohead are well known for their live performances, but much of the praise often focuses on their visually astounding arena setup.  They’ve become such masters of the giant stage show that’s it’s easy to forget that they still thrill without any of the technical pyrotechnics.  Their live performance at the BBC is a relatively stripped back affair. The stage is loaded with equipment and musicians, and the visual delights are the frenetic contributions of the band members.  All the staples are there, from Thom Yorke’s metronomic bounce to Johnny Greenwood’s urgent exactitude at the patch bay.  Yorke has always excelled at physically embodying the band’s music, especially paranoid, discordant tracks like this one.  He seizes and spasms, twitching his way through the performance as though he’s about to burst.  While his voice has faltered somewhat in recent live performances it remains strong here, cutting through the menacing, jazzy cacophony.  It’s rare that a band can entrance a small room or a field of 100,000 with equal skill, but Radiohead always were a rare beast.


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