Radiohead | 08.13.08 | Mansfield, MA

By: JC McIlwaine

Radiohead :: 08.13.08 :: Comcast Center :: Mansfield, MA

Radiohead by Rod Snyder
You've heard it all before, Radiohead is the best band on the planet. Well, it's true. The British quintet has been a critical darling and fan favorite since the release of OK Computer in 1997, if not before. That album has received countless accolades, and was named by Spin magazine in 2005 as the best rock album of the previous twenty years. Since their introduction to the world with "Creep," off their stunning 1993 debut Pablo Honey, Radiohead has gone from being considered a likely candidate for one-hit-wonder status to being recognized as the forbears of avant-garde rock.

Last year's In Rainbows sent shockwaves through the record industry. Free of the restrictions of a record label, the band announced the album's release shortly before its availability as a payment-optional (often referred to as "free" until it became known that the band had grossed up to $10 million from purchasers) digital download on their website. Other mainstream acts scrambled to get on board the independent bus, dropping their own labels and discussing plans for similar independent releases in the future.

It can safely be said at this point that Radiohead has become a phenomenon unto themselves. While they don't occupy number one slots on the charts, they've managed to sell over 25 million albums as of 2007. With tours encompassing North and South America, Europe and Japan, and headlining spots at festivals throughout, the band is no cult classic. Pardon me for such a broad generalization, but everybody in the Western World seems to know who Radiohead is, and just about everybody seems to like them - not only you but also your friends and neighbors. This may not be your parent's band, but odds are they can appreciate them, too.

Radiohead by Heather Barlin
So, why all the love? Perhaps we like Radiohead so much because they keep on surprising us as their music transforms and evolves, and their various answers to the question of how to survive as a rock band in the 21st century keep us always on our toes, wondering what's next. Whether the surprises manifest in a new direction in sound, a new record dropping out of thin air or the introduction of a new LED lighting system, the band is always ahead of the curve, if not creating it as they go.

Part of the band's popularity lies in its ability to maintain an element of mystique despite being one of the most popular bands in the world. Radiohead is an anomaly. "Nude," a single released off In Rainbows, was the only song of theirs to crack the Billboard Top 40 in the U.S. since "Creep," a perverse, unlikely fact for a band that creates as much buzz as they do. It's almost as if the band is dancing around the mainstream while not quite jumping in for a swim.

While each new record is met with anticipation unparalleled in rock circles (Guns 'N Roses' Chinese Democracy aside), it's the band's live shows that carry their charge, and it's for their live shows that they are known. Say what you will about some of their albums (while many say nothing but "amazing" mind you), but in the live venue they rarely disappoint.

Radiohead by Rod Snyder
Following a much-raved-about two-night stand at New Jersey's All Points West Festival (read the review here) and another night in Camden, the band hit the Comcast Center, a venue alternately referred to as Great Woods and/or The Tweeter Center in Mansfield, MA.

Grizzly Bear prepped the stage, sounding uncannily like Radiohead from the deepest pockets of the parking lot. Fans scurried from their cars to the venue, only to find out upon arrival that Radiohead wouldn't hit the stage for another hour.

When Radiohead finally made their appearance, they rolled right into "Reckoner," a tambourine-heavy track from In Rainbows, replete with some of the tortured lyrics of separation and sadness for which Thom Yorke has become known. Sufficiently warmed up, the band launched into "Optimistic," an often-overlooked song from Kid A, but a powerhouse in its own right. Here they set the tone of percussive intensity, which segued perfectly into "There There," as Ed O'Brien and Jonny Greenwood joined Phil Selway on their own drum kits. The next song, "15 Step," found them trading their drum kits for synthesizers, ushering in the first of several electronically driven songs from their catalogue. Yorke danced in ecstasy to the beat, writhing in a manner reminiscent of Bacchic revelry, leaping at the microphone to intone his vocals.

Throughout the rest of the night the band switched gears many times, from rock anthems to electronic dance numbers, and covering everything in between. A piano was wheeled out on a couple of occasions for slower numbers like "All I Need" and "Videotape," but no matter the tempo, no matter the dominant instrument, everything they did they did with the utmost intensity and passion. Playing songs from every album save for their debut, Pablo Honey, the band thundered through a seventeen-song continuous set, followed by an eight-song encore. The setlist, as would be expected, drew most heavily from their latest album, with a great deal of older favorites like "The National Anthem," "The Bends," "Karma Police" and "Idioteque" serving as punctuation.

Radiohead by Susan J. Weiand
The lights were one of the highlights of the night (pun intended). A dangling menagerie of more than 25 LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs, long and thin and cut to various lengths, illuminated the stage, shifting through every color in the spectrum. Sepia-toned during "Nude," red and blue through "The National Anthem," the bulbs took on a life of their own, far beyond the typical stage lights that we've all seen hundreds of times. The light cascaded through the bulbs, at times even spelling out the lyrics. Originally implemented to cut down on the band's electricity consumption, they have done wonders for the stage show.

Typically garrulous and known for his witty stage banter, this night Yorke was all business, as he kept pretty tight-lipped, only tossing out short descriptions of the songs here and there. "This is a love song," he said of "House of Cards." Totally lost in his own musical world, Yorke pointed out the obvious, as he mentioned, "For those of you who don't know, that song's called 'A Wolf At The Door'."

But that's part of the reason we come to see Radiohead - to get lost in their musical universe with them, alongside aliens and disasters and earth-shattering heartbreak. We want to take that journey with them, to witness it all as intensely as possible and to experience utter catharsis as the band responds through lyric and melody, as they vouch for, and deliver, release from anguish through further angst.

Radiohead confirms the role of eloquence in lyrics, while illuminating imaginative new avenues for a genre as road-weary as rock & roll to wander down. They make us feel cool, edgy, like a seemingly indifferent hipster who in reality orchestrates even the smallest of details. And, at the end of the day, they make us feel involved in something far beyond our comprehension, a beast of its own creation, the deus ex machina (or "god from the machine"). We don't want to pull the strings on the puppets. We just want to watch in wonder. Ask the band and they'd probably admit they're doing the same exact thing.

Radiohead by Rod Snyder
JamBase | Inside Things
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[Published on: 8/29/08]

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jimmy row Fri 8/29/2008 03:13PM
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Man...this review needs some work

RichardHaley starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 03:32PM
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^ wow i couldn't disagree more, i thought this was one of the better reviews i've read on JamBase - especially about Radiohead. To each their own i guess, but Jimmy, what didn't you like about it? Seems like the author set out to prove something and laid out all the points why... just wondering.

briank67 Fri 8/29/2008 03:36PM
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i almost stopped reading after the second sentence. i get tired of people objectively claiming that 'band x' is the best band in the world. also, i didn't know 'optimistic' was "often overlooked." other than that, it's a decent review. i saw these guys at lolla but i reeeeally wanna see them in a smaller venue...

1radioheader starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 03:50PM
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obviously I love me some Radiohead, but this review seems more like an argument for anointing them the "best band on the planet" than an actual review of their show . .. . . . so perhaps that is why jimmyrow420 believes that the review needs work. . . . not that I have a problem with someone calling them the best band in the world mind you. . . . . . .

oh, and people who mindlessly put the 420 in their screen names are. .. . .(whats another phrase for retarded from too much smoking????. . . . heady?. .. . no thats not it. . . .. cool. . . no thats certainly not right. . . . . oh well. . . . . . .)

PunkJazz Fri 8/29/2008 04:04PM
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i think the term you're looking for is "hella cutty valley kids"

1radioheader Fri 8/29/2008 04:08PM
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ahh . .. . . that is the phrase I was looking for. . . .thank you punkjazz. . . ..

RothburyWithCheese starstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 05:04PM
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HoodooVoodoo starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 05:10PM
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What does "cutty" mean anyway? Anyhow...I say Radiohead last Friday night in SF (Outside Lands) and again on Wednesday in Chula Vista, and I must say I was completely blown away. I haven't been that impressed with a concert since seeing Phish or David Gilmour. These guys bring their A-game. IMO they ARE one of the best (if not the best) bands that are touring these days. Go see them if you ever get the chance. And this is coming from a guy who was just a casual Radiohead listener before.'s a link to a blog where you can get torrents for every show of the 2008 tour. Enjoy!

HoodooVoodoo starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 05:19PM
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Michael Savage/Bonnaroo to Rothbury... Although Grand Ole Party is a good band (they play here in San Diego like once a week), they are hardly the best on the planet. They've only released one album. Gnarls Barkley is pretty good but they actually even cover Radiohead at their shows. Not many bands cover other bands that are not as good as them. Pearl Jam peaked in 1992 and have gone downhill ever since.

jgtwentysix Fri 8/29/2008 05:25PM
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I agree with the original comment. This was definitely more of a praise article for Radiohead than a review of the specific show. I was at this show and Radiohead totally killed it. Unbelievable! Great Woods/Tweeter/Comcast is one of the best places to see a show that I've ever been, even though Tweeter ruined half the lawn to put in actual seats that they charge more for despite the fact that you'd still get soaked if it rained. Oh well. As long as I have a Dunkin' Donuts cup to conceal my beer in the parking lot, I'm happy.

ClaysTribe starstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 06:21PM
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why is it they cant change their set list to include more songs instead of just the famous shit the peeps wanna hear? i saw them at outsidelands in sf for the first time in my life and it was just simply incredible. yet, i saw them once again at the hollywood bowl this past monday, and it was practically the same set, with a few acoustic stuff thrown in but mostly the same. i feel they are just a song band and have trouble jamming or even finding where to jam, they tried on monday but it just didnt work in my opinion. i also felt that seeing them once was enough, its just like listening to their records but with amazing visuals with the lights and all. not bad but hey, its just my thoughts.

Flat5 starstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 06:53PM
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those lights are cool.

PunkJazz Fri 8/29/2008 07:00PM
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i think the term cutty means on the cutting edge of heady. Im not sure though

MarkBC Fri 8/29/2008 08:25PM
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Couldn't read the article after the first sentence. Radiohead is the best band on earth? Not for me and I'm sure I'm not the only one. Maybe they're the best in their genre (pop-rock?) but after listening to some of their stuff I don't see the appeal. By the way the Dead are reuniting for another Obamarama October 13 and a Spring/Summer tour. See you heads there.

iwantstogetfunkedup Fri 8/29/2008 08:41PM
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Hoodoo Voodoo-- I agree. I saw Radiohead at Outside Lands too and am still blown away. They command a stage like few other bands can these days. A lot of bands mentioned above by Bonnaroo/ACL are not even on the same planet as Radiohead.

BobbyShortcutShows Fri 8/29/2008 09:03PM
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Hoodoovoodoo its kats liek you that make me post when i could just easily pass by. Pearl jam peaked in '92. Are you nuts or just tasteless? Ahhh

Go listen to your sti stolen phish jams i.e. '98-2002 andleave us alone!

Batteries Sold Separately

HoodooVoodoo starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 09:15PM
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What is a sti stolen phish jam? I do dig Phish jams. Something wrong with that? I don't mind Pearl Jam. I actually liked Eddie's new solo stuff but I didn't care for Vitalogy or the Avocado album. Let's be honest here friend...Pearl Jam has not put out an album as solid as Ten. And that was '92 I believe. Radiohead has consistently pushed the envelope. I really can't say the same for Pearl Jam. And what's up with Vedder charging almost $100 for tickets to his acoustic solo gigs?

1048 starstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 09:17PM
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"Once again--great pics. The review was solid. However, to call these guys the best band on the planet is ridiculous. The best bands on the planet right now are: Mars Volta, Grand Ole Party, Assembly of Dust, Tv on the Radio, Yonder Mountain, Gnarls Barkley, or Pearl Jam. Not these guys."

hahaha, Assembly of Dust? better than radiohead? come on...

HoodooVoodoo starstarstarstarstar Fri 8/29/2008 09:19PM
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Here is an interesting Thom Yorke interview where he mentions meeting Phish and liking their vibe :)

USCTrojans4Life starstarstarstarstar Sat 8/30/2008 06:48AM
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Boner-Ruth-Gay Texas Town, you are a retard. Your choices for best bands are rediculous. I hate most of the ones you list and the ones I dont hate are just alright. Why do you even read these articles if you don't like Radiohead? Your only point of being on here is to raise a fuss.

A live Radiohead show is hands down one of the best concerts on the planet EVER!!!

kaiserbun starstarstarstar Sat 8/30/2008 07:22AM
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good review, i like radiohead. but i also think to call them the best band on the planet is pretty ridiculous as well. honestly no one single band should be called that. everybody has their own musical preference and if radiohead is your favorite that's great. they just might not be someone else's. i personally think they put on a great light show and have a lot of good songs. i enjoy some other shows a little bit more though. calm down USCtrojan guy, its not all about you.

ao1 starstarstar Sat 8/30/2008 09:24AM
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Uhhh....I like radiohead...honostly, haven't been able to give the band enough time. But what i've heard has been really interesting and original music....but I completely agree with everyone who says they are sick of proclaiming this the best band in the world....

therethere... Sat 8/30/2008 09:29AM
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Mars Volta and Pearl jam are good, but not the best. TV on the Radio?? I like them but man they would probably laugh at that. radiohead is an amazing band who I very much enjoy listening to and seeing live. they know how to command a stage and their sound is usually almost perfect. May 14 St. louis show was mind-blowing. I love radiohead, screw you haters who don't give them a chance.

welting starstarstar Sat 8/30/2008 09:32AM
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I was at this show and it was definitely the most intense live musical experience of my life. The way they reproduce their music on stage is uncanny. I wasn't sure how Thom would sound but he was spot on. The lights were unbelievable and the venue is really great (except for the cops in the lot). This was my first time seeing them and all I want to do is see them many many more times. That being said I think calling any group the best band in the world is naive and frankly ridiculous. The review was rather weak in my opinion. I like how all jambase reviews somehow have to end with some kind of loquacious, pseudo philosophical revelation about music or life or both. And it didn't even have a set list. I'll post it below in case anyone is interested. They played every song off In Rainbows, though not in order. There There was arguably my favorite of the night, with Wolf at the Door a close second. It was all stellar though.



There There

15 Step

Kid A


All I Need

The Gloaming

The National Anthem


Jigsaw Falling Into Place

The Bends

Faust Arp

Weird Fishes/ Arpeggi

Everything In Its Right Place

Exit Music


1st Encore

House of Cards

I Might Be Wrong

Paranoid Android

A Wolf At The Door

How To Disappear Completely

2nd Encore

Cymbal Rush

Karma Police


therethere... starstarstarstar Sat 8/30/2008 09:40AM
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I would travel all over the place to follow this band..I saw the twice in this tour, i wish i couldv'e gone to like 10 or 12 of them. They change their setlists every night, giving particular cities songs they did not play at other places. I wish i could've been at this one..they played I Might Be Wrong, which they have not played anywhere else in their current tour. I could go on about how they are such a great band for a while...I can't say the're the best in the world cuz I have'nt heard everything in the world. I know they're my favorite band as of now. I wish I could've been more open-minded around Bonnaroo 2006.

ScIFreak Sat 8/30/2008 10:05AM
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lol We all know who is the best band in the who universe, it's PHiSh!

shakobe starstarstarstarstar Sat 8/30/2008 10:48AM
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Radiohead has made it to my own personal mnt.rushmore of rock bands PHISH,JANES ADDICTION,and THE GRATEFUL DEAD.It is rare that i say wih such conviction that I LOVE THIS BAND SO MUCH.

bow3599 Sat 8/30/2008 10:53AM
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this band rocks, end of story, and that set list is about as good as it gets

jwbp Sat 8/30/2008 11:02AM
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i disagree with the statement that Radiohead is the best band on the planet. i went to see them last week with high expectations and thought this show was a let down. i do like their music, but found the live show boring. the crowd gave nothing to the experience - a lot of standing around and that's it. 'electronic dance numbers' - i saw no one dancing at the show i went to. whatever it is about this band, i don't get it. but the lights were cool.

"They make us feel cool, edgy, like a seemingly indifferent hipster who in reality orchestrates even the smallest of details." <- i don't mean to be offensive to the author, but are you serious?

tb Sat 8/30/2008 03:08PM
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i could not name one song by radiohead but i judge them as not being good (doesn't make sense), i guess they dont seem like my kind of band if i can label my genre of taste, but everybody's ravin about what makes radiohead so good?

Harmonium Sat 8/30/2008 03:32PM
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the free-download was actually a marketing ploy by radiohead and their manager... check out David Byrne's interview with Yorke from wired magazine.

1048 starstarstarstarstar Sat 8/30/2008 04:24PM
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Thanks Harmonium! That was great especially since Radiohead is named after a Talking Heads song.

Rickymullet starstarstarstarstar Mon 9/1/2008 08:08AM
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mayhem32 Mon 9/1/2008 08:44AM
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Tim starstarstarstarstar Mon 9/1/2008 11:36AM
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pauliwalnuts Mon 9/1/2008 07:41PM
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everyone knows Hanson is the best band on the planet....followed closely by Jewel

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 04:07AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

ok, I am sick of this band now. Enough on the articles jeez.

just wrote one on all points west!!!! give it a rest YO!!!!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Tue 9/2/2008 04:15AM
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‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

and I am sick of being told they are the best band in the world.

that may be true for some, but the whole world does not happen to agree.

djacoustic starstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 05:58AM
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To all who will listen...Radiohead being the "best band in the world" is a moot point. The argument will never end. Just like if I was to say "Phish is the greatest band in the world". Thats the great thing about music. Everyone is free to think their favorite band is the best in the world. Even if your favorite band is T.V. on the Radio. For those comparing the greatness of Radiohead to the greatness of jamband: RADIOHEAD IS NOT A JAMBAND! They are musicians that specialize in written song, not jamming. Just because Phish CHOOSES to jam does not mean any other band on the planet including Radiohead cannot jam. They CHOOSE not to. This world used to be full of great bands that were nothing but well composed written songs. We as a generation (I am 25 by the way) have not exactly been spoiled with great bands that strictly write and do not jam. I am a huge Phish fan. I've seen them 20 something times. Ive seen Radiohead twice. I can tell you that a radiohead show and a Phish show are completely different things. I can also tell you that the crowd at a Radiohead show is far more respectful of the music than the wookies you found at every single Phish show. Radiohead is this generations Pink Floyd. If you listen to them, you love them. If you hate them, you probably haven't listen to much and just don't get it. Just like your parents or your parents friends were about Pink Floyd back in the 70's. If you dont like Radiohead and you haven't seen them live you have not given yourself or the band a fair chance. They definitely are the best band in the world playing right now. The only person that will argue that is someone that just doesn't get it. Just like when you try to explain Phish's greatness to someone without being able to take them to a show.

Jeff Kash star Tue 9/2/2008 09:35AM
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Jeff Kash

EMOfest, Massachusetts. The author of this article fails to mention that people at this show probably had to use crisco on their legs, in order to get their tight-ass jeans on.

joda2 starstarstarstarstar Tue 9/2/2008 02:02PM
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Definitely one of the best bands in the world. NOt sure that needs to be said, there are a lot of amazing bands.

Seeing htis band in an amphitheatre with Sick seats was amazing.

manjotar Tue 9/2/2008 07:18PM
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i was just thinking that radiohead hasn't been getting enough coverage lately!

everybody knows that ween is the best live show on the planet.

snausages Thu 9/4/2008 06:51AM
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Radiohead saved my life this summer. the show at lolla was prime :)

Stuckdog1976 star Fri 9/5/2008 12:07PM
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I have tried amnesiac, OK computer, pablo honey, Hail to the thief. Honestly people I have tried.............I have sat and listened with an open mind - it just hits my ears like whiney noise. I like that they are unique and what they did with the record industry - but to say they are the best band on the planet is not even close to accurate. They are below average for me - I listen to everything from Tupac to Ricky Skaggs to Sharon Jones and the Dapkings to Miles Davis - Radio head is not even in my top 200 bands.

i13tony Fri 9/5/2008 01:15PM
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I have to agree with claystribe. Don't they...or any other band for that matter, get bored playing the same show night after night after night? I saw them in Tampa in early May, it's now September, and it's the same set of songs. Changing the order doesn't count. Don't get me wrong, Radiohead put on a brilliant show, no doubt, but I guess being a fan of bands like Phish and moe. has spoiled some of us that really pay attention. There is not much that compares to a 3-night run with no repeated songs that still leaves you wanting more. It's a rare treat indeed.