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See Radiohead Play Two New Songs Live in World Tour Debut

Thom Yorke (Photo: Andy Sheppard/Redferns)

If we didn’t know better, we’d almost say Radiohead were getting predictable. Then again, when being predictable means Consistently Generating Noteworthy Musical Moments, it’s certainly no bad thing. This past December, Thom Yorke told XFM the artful British rockers were rehearsing new material for their upcoming 2012 world tour. Kicking off the tour last night in Miami, the band played two new songs (via Consequence of Sound), and though it’s hard to judge much from the audience recordings, both initially sound up to the band’s ongoing high standards.

Yorke introduced one song as “Identikit.” After a minute-long introduction not unlike that of futuristic U.K. soulster Jai Paul’s Yorke-approved “BTSU,” featuring overlapping vocal harmonies and skittering percussion, the song transforms, like clockwork (but the precise, expensive, Swiss kind, or whatever) into a brooding electronic rocker. “I see you messing me around,” Yorke repeats in his haunted tenor. “I don’t want to know.” After all, we know what you’ll get when you mess with Radiohead.

Speaking of “Karma Police,” another new song played last night, “Cut a Hole,” begins with gloomy acoustic strums recalling that 1997 OK Computer highlight; it’s unclear from the video whether the crowd is applauding out of a mistaken sense of recognition. Yorke holds a few gorgeous, wordless high notes over the percussive strum and eerie synth tones, with a verse melody closer to the spoken-sung delivery of Pavement, specifically Brighten the Corners opener “Stereo.” Before the song concludes with crashing cymbals, Yorke howls, “Right across your face!” Thank you, sir, may we have another?

Why not? One more: Radiohead also played OK Computer-era B-side “Meeting In the Aisle” for what was reportedly its live debut. Americans who didn’t fork over money for one of the import-only singles featuring this moodily grooving instrumental might know it from 1998’s Airbag / How Am I Driving? EP. As much as we love that EP, this one is definitely B-side material; on the other hand, the audience member taking this video has a much better vantage point for watching Yorke’s famous dance moves. You win some, you lose some, but these guys still manage always to keep things interesting.