For the first time in fourteen years, the vastly influential English rock band Radiohead will perform in New Orleans. The date is part of a tour announced Tuesday, that will bring the beloved group to a number of cities it hasn’t visited for a decade. They’ll perform at the Smoothie King Center on Monday, April 3. The concert will be only the third time the group has performed in the Big Easy, following a 1995 gig at Tipitina’s, promoting their seminal sophomore album The Bends, and a packed show at the UNO Lakefront Arena on their tour for 2003’s Hail to the Thief.
Radiohead, composed of lead singer Thom Yorke, multi-instrumentalist Jonny Greenwood, guitarist Ed O’Brien, and rhythm section Colin Greenwood and Phil Selway, is perhaps the most critically acclaimed band of its generation. Together, they comprise an innovative, daring, and often difficult outfit that stretched the boundaries of what can be considered rock and roll, while commenting on politics, culture, and society via often-obtuse lyrical and stylistic flourishes that nevertheless hit home with attentive listeners.
They broke out with “Creep,” a ubiquitous single about social anxiety from their debut album Pablo Honey. The song connected with disaffected 90’s youth, but threatened to render Radiohead a one-hit-wonder (they now refuse to perform the song at most concerts). Their follow-up, The Bends, was less successful in the States, but is now regarded as a classic work of guitar rock. As they’ve done throughout their career, they immediately veered in a different direction with their third album OK Computer, a masterpiece of studio trickery and masterful songwriting that remains arguably their most beloved record. They went even further off the rails on their next two records, Kid A and Amnesiac, which incorporated jazz horns, synthesizers, and homemade electronics into a genre-bending musical stew. They’ve continued to expand on their sound in the years since, with Hail to the Thief fulfilling their contract with EMI, and revolutionized the music industry by releasing 2007’s In Rainbows as a pay-what-you-want download. Their most recent album was last year’s critically acclaimed A Moon Shaped Pool, on which they revisited unfinished or unrecorded songs from the group’s past.
This tour, though short, is notable for its inclusion of dates in smaller markets, representing an effort by Radiohead to reconnect with American audiences in the so-called “flyover states.” The tour features no stops in New York, or, in fact, in the East Coast as a whole, instead focusing on the South and the West Coast. It begins March 30 in Miami, and continues through the South before concluding with five dates in California, including a headlining performance at Coachella. Tickets for all dates go on sale January 20 at 10:00 a.m. via Ticketmaster.
Photo by Alex Lake