Radiohead in London – the fans

On both nights in of Radiohead’s London stint so far, it has felt as though the band is playing on home ground. Intriguingly – and this didn’t occur to me before because I love their new album – you can sense their surprise and enjoyment when they see how well the new songs are being received.

Thom mentioned this on the first night, ‘We were uncertain,’ he said, ‘it’s been a long time’.

For my part, I’ve been as awestruck by some of the band’s most dedicated followers as I have by the band itself.  Having been in both Paris and London, I have met and talked to a number of people who not only follow the band everywhere on this tour, but have been doing so for many years.

One woman I stood next to first saw Radiohead in 1993, and has been to every gig she can since then, including every gig on this European tour (Amsterdam, Paris and London in the past week, and then on to France, Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, Iceland …). Another was attending her 54th Radiohead gig. Others around me had stacked up several hundred over the past quarter of a century.

The woman on my other side last night had been watching Radiohead regularly since they released OK Computer. She lives in Australia, so for her, seeing the band entails a great deal of time commitment. And expense – to the tune of several thousands of dollars on this six week trip through Europe.

Whenever the band announces a new tour, this core group of fans goes to quite extreme lengths in order to organize ticket-buying for gigs that sell out in minutes and – as on this tour – have strict buyer limits.

Meeting such people has been fascinating. Their knowledge of and dedication to the creativity of these ‘unlikely’ men from Oxford is astonishing. I really enjoy talking to people with ‘time depth’ – a deep historical knowledge of whatever it is they are passionate about. Fans of this band genuinely do have time depth: their connection with the band’s music, personal dynamics, and live performances goes back a very long way.

At last night’s gig, security staff employed by the band came to the queue ten minutes before the doors opened and escorted four people into the venue. These, too, were long-time fans, who had been to many hundreds of gigs worldwide and are well-known to a band that likes to repay loyalty.

So to anyone (still?) reading about my ‘Radiohead week’ on this blog, who may have wondered at my dedication to seeing the band – really, I’m just an amateur and a cheapskate. I have other passions, and a life I will enjoy going back to once I get out of this bubble.

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