Of all the hyped English bands to arrive Stateside since the current British pop invasion began (with the so-called shoegazer movement of the late 1980s), only Radiohead has combined an ability to overcome the dreaded sophomore slump — as its fine new album, “The Bends” (Capitol), deftly demonstrates — and put on a thoroughly entertaining concert.
Fronted by kinetic singer/guitarist/lyricist Thom York, Radiohead Thursday night used tempo and dynamic shifts, musical and lyrical nuance and a refreshing stage presence that comfortably communicated songs of yearning, heartache and, yes, youthful angst.
York’s twists and grimaces along with his songs endeared him to the nearly full house; guitarist Jonny Greenwood mixed delicate acoustic strumming and broad power chords throughout the 100 minute show with exemplary results.
“The Bends” is off to a slow start commercially, but it’s only a matter of time before the album and Radiohead, are both rewarded with the notice that they deserve.
Songs such as the plaintive “High and Dry,” the hefty psychedelic “Planet Telex” and recent single and MTV hit video “Fake Plastic Trees” were engaging compositions, full of drama and imagination that offered, on an affecting level, much more substance than the usual pre-packaged band.
The show ended with York and guitarist Greenwood dueting on a wistful new acoustic number, a pleasant reminder of the duo’s short acoustic tour last year that helped boost anticipation for the new album.