Radiohead @ Glastonbury ’97 on BBC iPlayer

In two days time Glastonbury Festival 2011 begins. This year’s main headline act will be U2, the Tesco of modern rock, if you will; extremely big, everywhere and you’ve probably contributed to their fortune in some way. 1997 saw the Waitrose of modern rock, Radiohead; quality controlling, connoisseur’s choice and just that bit better than the rest, take the Pyramid Stage by storm.

By this point Radiohead were arguably already at their zenith having given us The Bends and OK Computer. The subsequent boundary pushing that would ensue in the band’s later career would only enhance this lofty reputation, with 2007’s In Rainbows at its peak. In footballing terms Radiohead go about their business in Barcelona-esque fashion; better than everyone else and probably Unicef approved due to their ethical stance.

Thom Yorke

Analogies aside, Radiohead are fantastic and, in 1997, on the back of contendably their best album (the aforementioned OK Computer), were an obvious choice for Michael Eavis (Glasto organiser).

Watching this gig on the sofa yesterday made me wish I was older than 10 in ’97 so that I could have been a part of it all. From opening track Lucky right the way through this was an astonishing set. The ease with which Thom Yorke seems to be able to sing note-perfect whilst helping his band create a beautiful sonic experience instrumentally is dumbfounding.

Lucky from the gig

As I sat there slack-jawed yesterday in awe of Oxford’s finest institution (hehe, my brother as a Cambridge alumnus will like that) it dawned on me that the quality on display was and is so rare that it can truly be labelled ‘once in a lifetime’, the like of which we may never see matched in the future.


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