Self-doubting Thomas

Radiohead The Forum, London It's refreshing to see a singer whose appearance actually makes you feel better about yourself

"Dunno what this one's called, never heard of it," slurs Thom Yorke by way of introducing the two-year-old hit "Creep". Radiohead have wrung a career out of articulating the woes and worries of disaffected youth, and now they're carving out a second career articulating their hatred of "Creep". It stormed the American Billboard charts, and its success ricocheted back here. They complain that it's dogging them, that it's all people know them for. Poor loves. They should do lunch with George Michael some time.

Their objections have become something of a pantomime. You wonder why they play the damned song at all (and so near the end, it's practically an encore). Maybe, like the rest of us, they still get off on that kerr- chunking guitar that heralds the chorus with a noise like a dodgy gearbox.

Or maybe it's the disturbing sound of the self-doubting refrain - "I'm a creep, I'm a weirdo" - sung by thousands of fans. It would take a lifetime to get your boyfriend to admit to being a creep, but Radiohead do it in three minutes flat with the old quiet-bit-loud-bit grunge formula.

When they weren't being so irascible, their gig last Friday was intense and electrifying, recalling the rude energy of REM's 1989 "Green" tour. The band were huddled in one corner of the stage when "The Bends" (from their fine album of the same name) erupted, its crashing opening chords sending frontman Yorke reeling backwards.

He seemed surprised that his guitar, which he wears cocked the way guerrillas wear their machine guns, was capable of such force. The world has also been surprised lately. Nobody thought this modest Oxford band had it in them to deliver an album as striking as The Bends. But Friday's show was the kind of lesson in raw, energising rock that we're more accustomed to from Smashing Pumpkins: music doubling as paint-stripper.

He did a lot of reeling, and staggering, and contorting. That's because he's a tortured artist; he doesn't just wear his pain on his sleeve, it is his sleeve. He doesn't belong here (he tells us on "Creep"). He'd be better off dead (on "Prove Yourself"). He's not a vegetable (that's "Vegetable").

On a spirited romp through "Black Star", he croons "I keep falling over, I keep passing out", words you'd kill to hear Barry White sing. And although "My Iron Lung" is their new masterpiece, when it arrives in all its "Dear Prudence"-esque glory, the lines "This is our new song/ Just like the last one" make you want to cackle, "Clever, Mr Bond, but perhaps too clever".

Yorke has a dash of albino-white hair, a permanently half-closed eyelid and a body like a mug-tree. It's refreshing to see a singer whose appearance actually makes you feel better about yourself.

He looks more like a typical rock fan than a typical rock star, which is a neat contrast to Jonny Greenwood, the guitarist who has enough hair and silly, splay-legged poses to qualify him as something of an axe-hero. Greenwood hacks at his guitar as though it's just admitted to sleeping with his best friend. The brittle, screeching noises he and Yorke produce together suggest they've replaced their plectrums with Stanley knives.

The band have their gentle side too, but more in the sense of calm-before- the-storm than "I Will Always Love You". Yorke knows this - leading into an encore of "Stop Whispering", he says, "You can all get your lighters out for this one". And they do. There must have been some singed fingers when it exploded into its nuclear climax. Yes, it was quiet-bit-loud-bit time again.

You felt, though, that there had been rather too much of a good thing. The first encore was cheese and biscuits, the second an Irish coffee, but the third was just one After Eight mint too many, particularly when Yorke returned alone with the dreaded acoustic guitar. That off-stage shuffling you could hear was the sound of the tour manager, crook at the ready.

Even that indulgence couldn't spoil the evening. Yorke may have cheated his way out of the high notes on "Ripcord", but he's still possessed of a voice, if not a face, that you'd like to wake up beside.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Arts and Entertainment
Sergeant pfeffer: Beatles in 1963
booksA song-by-song survey of the Beatles’ lyrics
Arts and Entertainment
music'I didn't even know who I was'
Arts and Entertainment
Cheryl was left in a conundrum with too much talent and too few seats during the six-chair challenge stage
tvReview: It was tension central at boot camp as the ex-Girls Aloud singer whittled down the hopefuls
Arts and Entertainment
Kalen Hollomon's Anna Wintour collage

art
Arts and Entertainment

TV Grace Dent on TV
Arts and Entertainment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad