Review: Radiohead soaks up love at Little Caesars Arena
As soon as Radiohead took the stage at Little Caesars Arena on Sunday night, a fan near the front of the general admission floor yelled out, "Detroit loves Radiohead!"
Detroit has had precious few opportunities to show its love to the English rock group, as Sunday night marked only the band's second Detroit appearance in the last 20 years, following a 2012 performance at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
But during a lovely 25-song, 130-minute performance, Radiohead gave the near-capacity crowd plenty of reasons to keep the love affair going.
Pulling from all eras of the band's career — 2003's "Hail to the Thief" and 2007's "In Rainbows" were most heavily represented, with five songs showing up from each — the group showed why its reputation as one of the greatest living bands and a must-see live act remains intact.
Opening ballad "Daydreaming" (from 2016's "A Moon Shaped Pool") set the stage for the night, as a pair of mirror balls lit up the arena with beams of dancing light as lead singer Thom Yorke emoted over a clean piano melody.
The largely Gen X crowd was quiet and respectful, taking everything in as the band rolled into a pair of "Moon Shaped Pool" cuts, "Desert Island Disk" and "Ful Stop."
The impressive production included flashing strobes and a large video wall that mostly featured flickering images of the band and squiggly patterns that resembled QR codes.
Yorke and his band mates seemed relaxed and in control of both the band's present and its legacy. Radiohead is the rare act that came of age during the '90s and is still making vital, relevant music 25 years into its career. (The band is now Rock and Roll Hall of Fame eligible.) No one would accuse Radiohead of being a nostalgia act, and so when it dipped back to 1995's "The Bends" for a trio of songs -- "Street Spirit (Fade Out)," "Fake Plastic Trees" and the title track -- it was out of gratitude, not some need to live in the past.
Some of the group's vintage material was given new context due to current events; during "No Surprises," fans lit up and cheered anew as Yorke sang, "bring down the government, they don't speak for us."
Yorke was loose throughout the night, playing with his frontman role and even doing a little showbiz shtick during "Daily Mail" by pausing at his piano and glancing out at the audience over his shoulder in a plea for applause. He craned his frame and took what looked like a pose from the "Karate Kid" playbook at the close of "Airbag." And he danced up a storm, wiggling around the stage and letting his hair down out of his man bun during "The Gloaming."
His bandmates, meanwhile, had mini-shows of their own going on, with guitarist and keyboardist Jonny Greenwood operating what looked like an old school telephone operator board during "Idioteque" and guitarist Ed O'Brien offering up backing vocals through cupped hands while standing several feet back from his microphone during closer "Karma Police."
That closer finished with the crowd joining in on the final chorus, singing in unison, "for a minute there, I lost myself, I lost myself." It was a night where many in attendance lost themselves in the moment while in the presence of a band that doesn't come around these parts often, but when it does it makes the most of it.