Album: Radiohead

I Might Be Wrong, Parlophone
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The Independent Culture

I'm one of those oddballs who prefers Radiohead's Kid A and Amnesiac to their earlier indie-guitar-band albums – though even so, I still regarded with some scepticism a friend's ecstatic acclaim of their summer concert in Oxford. But listening to I Might Be Wrong, an eight-track live album culled from shows in Oxford, Berlin, Oslo and Vaison La Romaine, I have to say he might be right. Where playing live is for most bands simply a matter of trotting out the same old numbers the same old way night after night, denuding them of whatever power they once possessed, Radiohead here are clearly performing at the peak of their powers, stretching and moulding their more recent, exploratory songs into bold new shapes. The album opens with a brief burst of foreign radio transmission which suddenly dives into the psychedelic swirl of "The National Anthem", the band sounding not unlike Pink Floyd in a desperate hurry. Its big, broad guitar strokes lead by turn into "I Might Be Wrong" itself, the song blossoming through Buckley-esque melodic twists and vocal flourishes. "Morning Bell" is the strongest melody here, though; its terse, martial drumming in piquant contrast to the reflective electric piano and Thom Yorke's haunting vocal. He's on particularly good form throughout, sounding variously like a disgusted chorister on the stately processional of "Like Spinning Plates" and all but disappearing in the hubbub of helium voices adrift in the tense dub entropy of "Everything In Its Right Place". The result is one of the few live albums featuring music that's still palpably alive.