Radiohead dazzles, enchants in sold-out performance

One would be hard-pressed to find many bands over 30 years deep into their careers that still contain every original member. Such a feat entails musical chemistry unparalleled by most bands of ‘legendary’ proportions, but Radiohead is no ordinary modern rock legend.

The five-part band returned to New Orleans for the first time since 2003 on their critically acclaimed “A Moon Shaped Pool” tour. Opting for Israeli band Dudu Tassa & The Kuwaitis as an unorthodox opening act for the North American leg of the tour, Radiohead took the stage around 8:30 p.m. on April 3 at the Smoothie King Center.

Known for its unfathomably strong stage chemistry and elaborate live performances, Radiohead tends to defy expectations of what fans can expect to hear live. As with any Radiohead performance, the setlist was unpredictable outside of the group’s most recent project.

This night in particular, the band chose a collection of songs that expertly spanned its vast discography of nine studio albums. Opening with “Daydreaming,” a haunting, piano-heavy piece from its newest project, the band showcased its notoriously thorough preparation as it toyed with playing the song at different volumes.

A couple of audience-silencing performances of newer material from 2016’s “A Moon Shaped Pool” followed. Band leader Thom Yorke joked about the band’s professionalism before an unexpected peek of fan favorite “2+2=5.”

The rest of the show provided a glimpse of experienced rockers too talented to be affected by the trials of age.

Radiohead showed that it is always thinking forward, with full stage and set design crews working around the clock to provide masterful lighting and visual displays to accompany the music. After 17 songs of nonstop showmanship, it became evident that the longevity of the performance now depended entirely upon the discretion of Thom Yorke.

Extended begging and pleading from thousands of desperate audience members eventually earned the audience an encore of the hit songs “No Surprises,” “Burn the Witch,” “Morning Mr. Magpie,” “Nude,” and “Karma Police.” This plethora of classic material didn’t satiate the audience, and the band returned for a second encore to perform “You and Whose Army?” and “Fake Plastic Trees.”

Sobbing fans and admiring listeners, however, could not bear to see the modern rock pioneers leave the stage for good without one last fight. The crowd’s uncontained energy proved to be enough to earn one final song, a rare performance of the band’s enigmatic “Paranoid Android.”

Monday night’s show proved to be no different than any other Radiohead performance in its ability to set the bar for modern rock unreasonably high.

Most aspiring musicians can only dream of controlling an audience like the British rockers did that night, but for Radiohead, it’s only another day in the office.

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