Rock: Middle-youth? That's the fans, not the band

Tragic as it may be that you can't choose your relatives, think how bad it must be when you can't choose your fans. A few years ago, Radiohead wrote a classic song called "Creep", and before they knew it they were every socially inadequate American teenager's favourite band. The song became an albatross - Mark Owen covered it on his latest tour, for crying out loud - so it was no surprise that Thom Yorke came across a little tetchily when he sang it at Wembley Arena on Sunday. Towards the end he ironically conducted a crowd singalong every bit as inappropriate as when the Velvet Underground's audience clapped along to "Heroin" in the same venue four years earlier. No, the real surprise was that Radiohead played "Creep" at all - and made it sound bigger and more frightening than ever.

Anyway, if Radiohead thought that the archetypal "Creep" fan was creepy, they didn't know the half of it: Middle-American youths have been joined by "middle youth". For those of you with more significant things to read about, "middle youth" is a shiny new media label, currently being slapped on Brits in their thirties who act as if they're in their twenties. And apparently Radiohead are the archetypal "middle youth" band. The group's exquisite ragings against the world have been adopted as music to dance around the ash floor of your loft apartment to, music for people who want to stay on the cutting edge, just as long as that edge has a safety-rail of guitar, bass and drums.

The Radiohead backlash must, therefore, be just around the corner. But it isn't going to start here. Just because no one hates Radiohead these days is not a good enough reason to hate them. Instead, here are some of the reasons why awestruck love is still more appropriate.

First, they're one of those few bands who believe that music did not reach its emotional pinnacle with "Three Lions": Yorke's voice is one of the most dreadfully plaintive sounds you can hear without clubbing a baby seal. Second, they're one of those few bands who believe that the word "orchestral" doesn't just mean renting a string section for your ballads; and that three guitarists can be used to better effect than, like, making the music three times as loud. On "Karma Police", Ed O'Brien can be silent for a whole minute, adding a two-second whine of feedback only when the song requires it. Such is the music's bold complexity that you can pick a member at random to watch for a song, with no doubt that it will be interesting to see what he does.

Ever since Jonny Greenwood came up with that rifle-cocking crunch that leads to the chorus of "Creep", Radiohead have dared to come up with sound effects that aren't in the sonic library known as The White Album, and have filled their arrangements with battling rhythms and dynamics. And, I should add, this obvious intelligence doesn't stop them being a speaker-damaging, string-breaking rock'n'roll band (see point one). When dance-derived music is perceived as the future, Radiohead are a one-word argument for guitar music having a place in it.

Much as they must gag at the notion of being a middle-youth lifestyle accessory, Radiohead are unlikely to react with a Blur-style overhaul of their sound. After all, in their case, middle youth hardly corresponds with middle-of-the-road. They've reached their current status by making exactly the sort of uncommercial music they wanted to, and I expect they'll continue to do so. The fact that they still play "Creep" in concert is evidence that they don't feel bound to abandon a great song just because too many people like it. You can't choose your fans, but you can ignore them.

You had to feel sorry for Radiohead's support act, Teenage Fanclub, who had the job of filling a two-thirds empty hangar with mild-mannered, neatly structured songs, each one incorporating little gaps which gave the drummer time to push his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. While it's unfair to say that the Fanclub are merely the Bootleg Beach Boys/Byrds, that's partly because the music of the Beach Boys and the Byrds underwent radical changes over the years, while Teenage Fanclub's style never moves on.

It never moves the listener either. The reviews of Songs From Northern Britain (Creation) painted the Fanclub as Ovid, Shakespeare and Simon Bates put together when it came to articulating the nature of love. I'd disagree. Delightful as their tunes can be, following the line "I didn't want to hurt you" with an immaculately Barber-shop harmonised "O-oh yeah," drags the Fanclub down to the level of pastiche. It sounds as if they've had more experience of love songs than they have of love itself: more knowledge of the Byrds and the Beach Boys than of the birds and the bees.

If you know Meredith Brooks solely from her typically thrusting, pop- rock anthem, "Bitch", then you probably think she sounds just like Alanis Morissette. If you've listened to her album, Blurring the Edges (Capitol) and read her interviews, you'll know better: she does sound like Morissette, but she thinks she doesn't.

There are differences, of course, but I don't know if it's in Brooks's interest to dwell on them. Where Morissette is vulnerable and angry, Brooks is hard and aggressive, an old-school Fender-totin' rock babe. In short, she looks like Xena the Warrior Princess would if she swapped her sword for a guitar; and she sounds like Morissette would if she had hung around the Los Angeles rock scene for a decade before becoming a star.

At the London Astoria on Wednesday Brooks put on a straightforward, no frills, soft metal show. You'd think she was being punched in the stomach from the faces she made during her guitar solos, and she had a habit of leaning against her bassist in a matey sort of way that wouldn't have looked out of place at a Bryan Adams concert. Maybe it's unfair to call her the new Alanis. But would she really prefer to be the new Joan Jett instead?

News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
people
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
art

The Sistine Chapel is set to be illuminated with thousands of LEDs

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Sport
Ronaldinho signs the t-shirt of a pitch invader
footballProof they are getting bolder
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...

    Middleware Support Analyst

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Senior Java Developer/Designer

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

    Domino Developer and Administrator

    £40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Domino ...

    Day In a Page

    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
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    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?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    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
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    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?