I can’t even believe that I’m writing this headline right now. Not a dream it’s the reality! I have photos and videos as a proof. I can imagine some of you saying “please don’t exaggerate, it’s just a concert” but you shouldn’t forget that I am a fulltime groupie and a kind of person that plans her vacations according the concert and festival dates. I mean I’m aware of that I don’t have a normal relationship with music. It’s a passion, but not just that. Radiohead is by far my most favorite band in this ephemeral world. That’s why I find it very difficult to tell how it felt to see them live on the stage in exact right words.
I have to go back 10 months to tell you the story of this gig and the reason why I still say “Thank God I was in Berlin”. Maybe then you’ll get me…
In December on “songkick”, where I follow concert updates of my favorite artists, it was announced that July 6 tickets were sold out thus there was going to be an additional show on July 7. I bought my ticket immediately, even though I didn’t know if I could be there then. If it costs 60 Euros to dream about a Radiohead concert, take my money I said. It’s not wasting money, I don’t know maybe it equals to some of yours monthly cigarette expense but in the end it’s a matter of choice.
Like me, lots of my friends got carried away and bought a ticket. We were together to listen to Thom and his friends. Winter passed, life moved on. Lovers broke up, plans changed, my only long-term plan was my concert ticket. As July came up, I started to plan my trip.
An unfortunate thing happened mid-June. During the setup for Toronto concert, because of the storm the stage collapsed on Briton Scott Johnson, the band’s drum technician and he passed away aged 33. You can read about it here.
The band announced that they postponed the show as their stage materials were damaged and they had lost a very close friend of them. After the event, all shows were postponed to future dates, including Berlin. Since I’ve had my flight ticket beforehand, I ended up visiting Berlin anyways. You can read my post about Berlin trip here.
Then, new dates were announced: September 29th-30th. Those who could not fit to the new schedule were allowed to return their tickets and got their money back.
When it comes to Radiohead, I change up my whole plans; I rescheduled a Berlin trip for September 30th. I bought my ticket to Berlin where I have been to many times, but this time it was only for this show. But still you should check my notes on this visit as well.
Now…Let’s come to the real deal, my notes on this much anticipated concert.
I actually planned to be at the concert area at 12 a.m., even though the door opening was 5 p.m. But my friends who attended the show the day before, told me it wasn’t necessary and it was enough to arrive around 4p.m.
Concert tickets were also the passes for the train that would take us to the concert area. Without buying an extra ticket we arrived to Wuhlheide from Ost-Kreuz in 15 minutes. Following the crowd we arrived in concert area by walking through a beautiful forest in 10 minutes.
It was not crazy crowded. I bought myself a Radiohead t-shirt immediately from the official merchandising point right in front of the entrance. On the back, there was the Kid A logo the “Modified Bear” designed by Stanley Donwood and Thom Yorke and it was marked “Radiohead” in the front. The prices were almost same as Reading, 20 pounds there and 30 Euros here. Money well spent indeed!
Nail biting Radiohead groupies like me were sitting in front of the entrance. We sat there for about an hour and the doors opened at 5 p.m.
The tickets are marked with for each individual’s name in order to prevent black marketing. We printed the tickets ourselves and it had a barcode on it but in the end it’s a piece of paper. I would love to have a special ticket so I’d keep it and proudly show to my grandchildren in future. Maybe it makes everything simpler but it’s a fact that technology kills the spirit.
We went in right after our tickets and bags were checked. We started running like everyone else to settle in a ringside view. Even though the first row was filled up in a minute, we found a good place in the third row, sat down and started waiting for Caribou that would take the stage at 7 p.m. Meanwhile I had the chance to observe the setup and I realized that the lights placed behind the stage were actually made out of plastic bottles. This was not a surprise for an environment friendly band like Radiohead.
Caribou was on stage around 19.15. It’s an inspiring artist even appreciated by Radiohead. Honestly, I can’t imagine a better opening act. I love Caribou! They played about an hour. Think about a stage setting that Daniel and the drum are placed in the front; guitar and back vocals stand behind. I really enjoy drum-based sounds like Battles we watched at Mono Festival. I didn’t go craze balls as I kept my expectations pretty high for Radiohead but it’s fair to say that if Caribou performed in Istanbul, I would watch them in the front row. If you haven’t met Caribou yet, these songs might be good helper for introduction.
Radiohead was on stage between 20.30 and 21.00 as I can’t remember exact time because of my excitement, opening the show with Lotus Flower and its iconic dance. With his non-changing jacket and trousers worn over a basic shirt and his overly cute ponytail, Thom Yorke was on stage. I always thought that I would burst into tears the moment I saw him but he looked so happy on stage that I felt an indescribable joy as well, one step away from happy tears. I just kept looking at him and felt my heartbeat in my hand, and I felt a little ache on my cheekbones because of my silly smile. He’s God’s masterpiece, bless him. He was cold for a while and then he said, “Whose place are we going after this?” My dear!
Thom Yorke is a very unique. He’s more than a musician playing many instrument, he was like a maestro of the Radiohead orchestra. One moment he was playing the guitar, next you know he’s on the piano. It turned out that the echo at the end of “Climbing Up The Walls” was actually him, singing into the guitar. But it’s certain that Thom is not the only star on the stage. Radiohead is band with full of talented musicians. When I could take my eyes off Thom I had the chance to watch Jonny Greenwood playing his guitar like a violin, as the samples of “The Pyramid Song”. When he didn’t make miracles with his guitar, he played keyboard and drum with two sticks on “There There”.
His two years older brother Colin Greenwood is in charge of band’s amazing bass tunes. With his jacket and scarf, Ed O’Brien has a killer charisma and he is one of world’s most successful guitarists. And we shouldn’t forget genius Philip Selway on the drums –especially doing miracles with cymbals- who is one of the main reasons why I love this group so much.
I almost lost myself during the performances of “There There”, “How To Disappear Completely” and “Climbing Up The Walls” while Thom went crazy singing “The Gloaming”. It was an unforgettable moment for me when he sang and played the piano during “Like Spinning Plates”. On their second encore performing “Everything In Its Right Place”, they went on stage with synthesizer covered with independent Tibet flag and a lemon right next to it dedicated to the lyrics: “Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon”. We danced like crazy. They also performed their new track “Ful Stop”, debuted live in June.
Often, the security warned people about recording the show. Thom Yorke said not to care about that at all saying “Take up your fucking cameras and take whatever you like.” How can you possibly not love this man? His dancing moves, his ponytail… I literally felt the overwhelming feeling flowing through the stage; my pupils were huge so that I wouldn’t miss a single moment. For a moment I closed my eyes and lost myself into the music then I got angry with myself to do so. “Radiohead is right in front of you on the stage, open up your eyes and WATCH!” They played 24 songs in total and did encore three times. Still, was it enough? It never is.
There was almost no German around. Though there were a lot of American, Russian, English and Far Eastern. When the show was canceled lots of people returned their tickets, and my friend Deniz had her share of the ones that came onto market again but when she asked her friends to join, they thought 60 Euros was expensive for a Radiohead concert, weird. That’s to say Deniz’s friends are not that into Radiohead. Like I said before, front row was almost full of non-German foreigners who came to city just to watch the show like us. When the show was over I understood better why they chose here to see Radiohead live. It was the most pleasant and painless concert I have ever been to. No sign of busy crowd, long lines, traffic and all the other problems.
I watched and listened to the show from a perfect view, without any risk of being crushed. I didn’t even have to go in early and wait in line for hours. I came to the area when the doors opened and still found a great spot at the ringside view but it was still possible to arrive around 7 p.m. and watch the concert from a good place in amphitheater.
We didn’t hurry to leave the area as soon as the show ended since we had to digest what we had just been through. The crowd disbanded slowly. There were various foods and snacks on the exit area that were way cheaper than inside. There was no chaos since part of the crowd went one way to catch the train and the others stayed to snack up. I bought a delicious drink with strawberries too. It was like an orgasm drink after a perfect performance.
There was also public transportation on the way back home; we went back as easily as we came in. The only problem was that it was a bit crowded at the train station. We found out a way out as we walked to the previous stop and guaranteed a seated trip. I had a great night with no fuss. I thought ticket prices were quite cheap for a concert like this. I was grateful that I had the chance to watch Radiohead in Berlin.
They played National Anthem instead of Mr. Magpie just for the 29.09 show. Here’s Radiohead’s playlist for the 30.09 show:
Climbing Up the Walls
Like Spinning Plates
- There There
How to Disappear Completely
Morning Mr. Magpie
Give Up the Ghost
Everything In Its Right Place(True Love Waits intro)3rd Encore: