Radiohead graces Glendale with hypnotic concert

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Radiohead plays to a sold-out crowd on Thursday, March 15 at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale. (Photo by Aaron Lavinsky)

Jobing.com Arena was impossibly full Thursday night as an audience of all ages anticipated the performance of one of the greatest alternative-rock bands of this generation: Radiohead.

Audience members were buying overpriced beer and socializing near the concession stands after opening band Other Lives attempted to entertain them before the main act.

The faces of the concert-goers said it all — they were there to see the incredible headliners. Their eager smiles were pasted on so permanently that frowning seemed to be an unheard of idea.

As the lights finally turned off, the stage lit up a bright purple hue as the band walked out in the coolest of fashions, calmly and in control as if to say, “Get ready, we’re here to rock your brains out.”

An influx of distant, distorted sounds flooded the stage before the band began the opening chords to their song “Bloom” off their 2011 album “King of Limbs.”

A dozen square-shaped screens hung above the heads of lead singer Thom Yorke, guitarists Jonny Greenwood and Ed O’Brien, bassist Colin Greenwood and drummer Phil Selway. The screens resembled mirrors and each of them was focused on one of the band members to enlarge their faces for the entire arena to see.

“Hello everybody” was all Thom Yorke had to say to get the audience screaming before they got into “15 Step,” a track heard on the album “In Rainbows.”

The set continued with the pulsating rhythms of “Airbag” and “Little by Little.” Yorke played the roles of a rock icon and pop star as he played his guitar for some songs and set it down to dance for others.

His dance moves were just as erratic and uncontrollable as they are in the music video for “Lotus Flower.” Yorke’s body jolted around all over the stage like it was seizing, and the crowd seemed to dance in the same manner.

Yorke even mimicked the movements of typical rap artist when “Myxomatosis” was performed.

The singer threw his arms at the audience, microphone in hand, urging them to join in singing the lyrics “I don’t know why I feel so tongue-tied.”

The guitar was placed upright and with a bow in “Pyramid Song,” suddenly turning into a miniature cello. Yorke was at the piano passionately hammering on the keys and singing the words, “nothing to fear and nothing to doubt.”

The set list continued with songs from albums “Kid A” and “Amnesiac.” The band performed “Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Box” for the first time since 2001, perhaps in celebration of their last show on their tour before heading to the Coachella music festival in California.

“Looking forward is better than looking back, but looking back is okay, too,” Yorke said before beginning the band’s new song “Identikit.”

The band attempted to close the show with “Idioteque,” but the audience wouldn’t allow them to finish. An encore was in order, and the band returned to the stage with “How to Disappear Completely.”

After three more songs, Radiohead again tried to leave the stage only to be pressured into a second encore. Yorke grabbed an acoustic guitar and gave a haunting rendition of “Give Up the Ghost.”

“This song was born out of a very trippy dream,” Yorke said before getting into their song “Reckoner.”

He continued, “The kind where you wake up and go, ‘Man, I don’t ever want to wake up from that.’” If this show was a dream for the audience, they didn’t want to wake up either.

At this point, it is easy to think the crowd might have felt like they were being left “high and dry,” as the band played only a few songs from “OK Computer” and none from “Pablo Honey.”

But like Yorke said earlier, “Looking back is okay too,” so the band concluded with “Paranoid Android.” It was one of the first six-minute songs to ever be released as a single, and it was good for the band to end on a historical note as they themselves are historical.

Radiohead looks back on all of their accomplishments as one of the best bands of the past two decades — and looks forward to a future of creating music that will hopefully continue to inspire listeners of all ages.

On Thursday night in Glendale, everyone looked directly at Radiohead as they performed one of the best concerts to ever grace the Valley.

Reach the reporter at Jocelyn.Gee@asu.edu