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Radiohead: Live @ Riverbend Cincinnati

Filed in Cincinnati and Live Reviews 7 comments

IMG 6150 Radiohead: Live @ Riverbend Cincinnati

The weather could not have been much nicer for a June evening in Cincinnati. The air was crisp and resembeled a early fall night, rather than the humidity we are used to during a Midwest summer. The crowd was anxious but reserved, waiting for a band that had eluded many for years. Radiohead has never played a show in Cincinnati, but here they were, ready to take the stage to the delight of thousands at Riverbend.

They played with the attitude a of a band that has released records for nearly twenty years, toured to all corners of the globe, won Grammys and risen to the top of many fans lists of ‘best band in the world.’ The setlist leaned towards newer albums, taking plenty from King Of Limbs and In Rainbows, plenty of great sounding new songs like “The Daily Mail” and “Identikit”, along with a dash of nostalgia from the early years. It wasn’t too long, too short and the people (in my area at least) weren’t too annoying.

So why did I leave the show last night feeling like it was somewhat forgettable?

IMG 0981 Radiohead: Live @ Riverbend Cincinnati

It could be that I’m getting old, and jaded after plenty of great concert experiences. It could be that unless something truly “special” happens on stage, I’m not wowed. Or it could be that the consistency of Radiohead, the predictability of the band, just fell a bit flat for me last night. Let’s face it, you don’t go to a Radiohead show and expect to see an epic guitar solo, you don’t expect Thom Yorke to stage dive into the crowd, you don’t expect Phil Selway to tear his shirt off or Jonny Greenwood to coax the first row for high fives. You expect Radiohead, who puts off an air of cool that can’t be taught, but also isn’t exactly riveting. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers was in attendance, and I couldn’t help but look back at him several times and wonder if the whole thing bored him.

IMG 6193 Radiohead: Live @ Riverbend Cincinnati

I know I’m splitting hairs here, but I’m just trying to describe that feeling I got last night on the way home, when I was honestly more excited about this picture than I was about the show. And the show was really, really good!

So call me jaded, call me crazy or just call me confused, but ask yourself if you didn’t feel the same way as you made your way home last night.

 Radiohead: Live @ Riverbend Cincinnati


Joe started ENS in 2003 after most people he wanted to talk to about music were worn thin by his ramblings. The outlet this site provided helped out, and somehow is still going 9 years later. After a four year stint as a WOXY DJ, Joe returned to Cincinnati and continues to pioneer ENS. In addition to the overall look and feel of the site, Joe provides regular reviews, and kinda makes sure this whole thing stays afloat.

Posted by Joe Long   @   6 June 2012 7 comments


Jun 6, 2012
9:37 pm
#1 tim :
Jun 7, 2012
10:07 am
#2 Dennis :

Here’s how I read this blog: “I wish they had played more stuff from OK Computer”.

If you’re only going to get one shot at seeing Radiohead, how could you not be disappointed if they don’t play Fake Plastic Trees, Karma Police, Paranoid Android, or ANY of the more epic tunes from OK, Kid, Thieves, Pablo, etc? Not to mention that even a lot of hardcore RH fans have had a hard time connecting to King of Limbs (I think they played 8 from there, plus a fistfull of new tunes)

That said (and having seen them before), knowing going in what to expect from the setlist I thought Tuesday’s show was stellar. Took a few tunes for the band to hit it’s stride, but then it was top shelf all the way out.

As for whether Flea was bored, I’d rather witness an evening of Radiohead working through new material than have to endure a RHCP show post-Blood Sugar era. And Kiedis isn’t fit to carry Thom Yorke’s, um, sweatsock.

Jun 7, 2012
10:25 am
#3 euro60 :

I’m sorry (and surprised) you feel that way, Joe. As a long-time concert attendant myself, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. In fact, I am trying to recall if I ever felt more satisfied seeing Radiohead (this was my 5th or 6th time seeing them in the last decade). Simply put, this band continues to get better and better live. I will readily admit that I was not (still am not) a big fan of their latest album (TKOL), but it was amazing how most of these songs took on another life when performed live. All but Lotus Flower and Codex sounded quite different and generally rocked much harder than on the album. And to see Radiohead perform live in our own city, what could be better? I wish I was as close to the stage as you were (I was in the 4th row of Section 700), but even with being back that much, I really had a great view and the sound mix was pretty great too. If I had the time I’d go see these guys a few more times on the current tour because at the rate they hit the road, it’ll probably 2015 or 2016 before we get a chance to see them again live.

Jun 7, 2012
11:20 am
#4 DT :

Having seen Radiohead once before in 2008, this perfectly summed up my feelings about Tuesday night’s show. The band performed great, but at the end of the night I felt like simply shrugging my shoulders as a reaction to the show. I think it has a lot to do with how heavy the show was on newer songs; TKOL and post-TKOL songs are enjoyable, but they don’t make for an amazing concert experience like so many of the older songs.

Jun 7, 2012
11:52 am
#5 David G :

I thought it was amazing and the crowd responded well. When they played Give up the Ghost, the silence that fell over the crowd was chilling.

Author Jun 7, 2012
12:33 pm
#6 Administrator :

Good perspectives all. In no way did this dampen my love for Radiohead, and if they come back to Cincinnati, or I have a chance to see them again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I was just trying to put my finger on why I wasn’t amped up walking out of what was by most accounts (including mine) a great show.

Jun 12, 2012
3:03 pm
#7 Jonathan Goolsby :

No, I fully agree. I had never seen Radiohead; although I knew better than to think they would dust off any of their pre-2000 mega-hits, I held out hope that they wouldn’t be inaccessible. Much of that has to do with crowd engagement. I’ll listen to anything if the frontman plays to the audience. Yorke and crew didn’t feel the need to do so – the performance was technically proficient, but emotionally lifeless.

Add to that the various venue problems at Riverbend: overly-obstructed Lawn views (I wasn’t lucky enough to score Pit seats), non-operating video screens for half the show / fuzzy visuals the rest of the show, and low sound.

The crowd on the lawn, from our vantage point, was disengaged and annoyingly talkative. During the soft cuts, I heard more inane conversations than Greenwood chords. My friend Ash aptly stated: “This is a crowd that is hear because this is the COOL show to go to in Cincinnati tonight, not because hearing ‘The Bends’ for the first time in 1995 made them break down and weep.”

Disappointing experience. I’m with you, Joe, I still love Radiohead. But am I going to try to see them live again? Probably not. And certainly not on the lawn at Riverbend. Thom Yorke can call me back if they ever play US Bank Arena.

But. All hands on deck: Phish and Great Lake Swimmers, both coming to a ‘Nati near you!

Sorry, comments are closed.

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