Radiohead's first stop on its 2012 tour began with Radiohead-type sounds circulating through and energizing those in the American Airlines Arena. You know the sounds; they're like the noises Thom Yorke must make in his sleep or howls from the deepest corners of the jungle.
For the first song, "Bloom," the stage became an underwater grotto, filled with otherworldly instrumentals and Yorke's haunting calls. All of the noises onstage came together to create a body of sound. An actual body, in a sense. Just like your heart beats, you tap your foot, and talk at the same time, their music was a full moving creature. We were inside its body, heard the heart, the words, the dancing feet.
For all of its majesty, the first half of the show was, must admit, a little sleepy. They played songs off of The King of Limbs, transitioning to Kid A. Yorke seemed to be begging at times for approval from the crowd. He got it. But once it got more rock-pop-hits-heavy onstage, he really received the reassurance he seemed to desire.
Throughout the night, drums sets were brought in and out, as was a piano and keyboard. At one point, during "There There," four of the band's members were banging on drums (our notebook notes: "mad drums"). Who doesn't love to hear a ton of drums being pounded upon at the same time live? Crazy people, that's who. It could be called many things, but definitely awesome.
Thom Yorke looked kind of slick with his short-hair pony tail, vest, and red pants. He charmingly danced his way through songs, like Mick Jagger of chicken-dance days. He shimmied and sang, tapped his tambourine, all as the tension built and each song hit a crescendo. When he spoke, we all nodded politely, not understanding any of his words. Think we heard something about singing a song on Saturday Night Live and having to go to the toilet beforehand. No clue.
The stage, lighting, and visual effects were the most exciting part of the whole affair. Videos of the musicians faces were shown on screens above the stage. At times, it looked like a fiery underworld, other times like the lobby of a very fancy hotel and even a graffiti-strewn wall.
The last time Radiohead performed in South Florida, it was at the Cruzan Amphitheatre, and the musicians were merely ideas on an invisible stage far, far away. At the American Airlines Arena, they were moving beings, actually visible from wherever you were sitting. It was definitely intimate, in its own arena way.
"Idioteque" was one of the more intense songs performed. We were betting on a "Creep" final encore, but we got something even better. We got a "Karma Police" singalong.
Yorke didn't have to turn his mic on us to get the whole place singing, "I've given all I can/It's not enough." But then, something even more beautiful happened. We got to the part of the song, "For a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself." Everyone was singing. We were choked up.
The band stopped and asked us to continue with the line, and we did, we sang Radiohead's lyrics to Radiohead as they graciously bowed off stage. It seemed like we were supposed to continue singing it, as one of them moved his hand in a manner indicating, "Keep singing, people!" But we stopped after one time. We're not the smartest or most obedient audience, perhaps. We were, though, appreciative and genuinely moved by those final moments of their first show this tour.
Personal bias: I don't think I've ever actually owned a Radiohead album. I do like Radiohead, and I sang along to at least a handful of songs. I also learned that I can't be around nachos and not want to eat them.
The crowd: Pot-smoking pops, couples, nerds.
Favorite person in the crowd: The world's biggest fan. He was sitting in front of us in an Amnesiac shirt. He spent the whole time making the sign of the horns and awesome yelping sounds. We love you, guy.