Lollapalooza Berlin 2016: Day two – Radiohead, James Blake and Major Lazer
How to describe Sunday: Radiohead is all that needs to be said, and that is essentially all that this review will say. Yes, there were other notable performances from James Blake, while Major Lazer and Years and Years provided ample dancing opportunities for the thousands-strong crowd. The 1975 had the unfortunate luck of playing at the same time as Radiohead and in being part of such a huge audience there was no way anyone could get see both.
Perhaps it was the heat, or the fact James Blake is his best at night when he can use lighting to his advantage, that made his set seem somewhat underwhelming. Vocally he was strong but at times songs were extended too far. Highlights included Retrograde and The Wilhelm Scream, which, he informed us, was written by his father. Earth-pounding bass was used but it did not create the same atmosphere as at Field Day earlier this year. Major Lazer’s set came shortly before the headliners and they had festival goers dancing wildly – “everyone take off your shirts and swing them in the air,” they screamed. Earlier in the day Years and Years’ performance suited the climbing temperatures.
As soon as James Blake ended crowds began to form around the main stage. At least 50,000 people waited expectantly for Radiohead. The sun set, shadows formed as the opening notes of Burn the Witch bewitched those assembled, subduing the roars and cheers to a buzz of expectant awe. Daydreaming deepened the trance: people danced, eyes closed, lit by white light and surrounded by smoke as the music flowed into more material from A Moon Shaped Pool, Decks Dark and Desert Island Disk.
The daze continued into 2+2=5 then suddenly broke out into a frenzy: the crowd turned frantic, pulsating to the music only to slip back to the trance with Lotus Flower, Reckoner and No Surprise. Identikit, Bodysnatchers and Idioteque shattered the hypnotic dance until the music faded out with Thom Yorke’s sonorous vocals on Street Spirit. The slight pause woke the audience from their transcendental state: shuffling feet and roars were the only way to vent their excitement and desperate need for more.
And more is certainly what Radiohead gave them. Let Down melted through the night, the fans were “Deaf, dumb and blind”, lost in Present Tense. Only this band could follow this and improve on it, with Paranoid Android and perhaps one of the most shattering songs ever to be seen live, Nude. Their second encore was what most Radiohead followers’ dreams are made of: “Go on then, we know you want it,” joked Yorke, as they played Creep and ended with Karma Police.
The English rock band conjured a performance of the like few people get the chance to see. Tracks from In Rainbows, Kid A, OK Computer and A Moon Shaped Pool blended and enhanced each other, demonstrating their versatility. This group does not simply make hits, each and every one of their songs is a raw emotion, reaching to your core. They are magnets for memories; as one stand listening they are both absorbed in the moment and transported back to when they first heard these songs.
Radiohead did more than close the festival in style – they conquered it in a way few other bands could. They made the weekend and the whole of Sunday was consumed either in waiting for them, watching them and finally attempting to play their performance over in the mind retrospectively. In a music business struggling to compete with its past, Radiohead are one of the true greats.
Photos: Danny Cowan-Turner
(except featured by Toni Rosado)
For further information about Lollapalooza visit here.
Read Saturday’s review here.