Radiohead played NYC’s Irving Plaza 25 years ago today (June 9, 1997) and it was a notable show for a few different reasons. Their new album, OK Computer was just out in the UK but wouldn’t come out until July 1 in the U.S. — so unless you shelled out $30 for the import, chances are you’d only heard “Paranoid Android” at that point, and this show would be most of the audience’s introduction to the record. (What few advance promos were sent to journalists were in the form of a super-glued-shut cassette walkman.) The band played most of OK Computer, and a good chunk of The Bends as well, and it was awesome. That is my foggy recollection.
It was also their first U.S. headline show for OK Computer, a one-off following their short set at the Tibetan Freedom Concert two days before. It’s this part that made the show surreal. Many of the artists who had played the benefit festival’s stacked lineup — U2, Michael Stipe, Blur, The Beastie Boys, Eddie Vedder & Mike McCready (the Pearl Jam members played a surprise set at the Randall’s Island festival) — stuck around the city and took in the show. But that was just the tip of the iceberg, as Madonna, Courtney Love, Oasis, (did they know Blur would be there?!?), Lenny Kravitz, and more were also on the VIP list and were all crammed into Irving Plaza’s stage left VIP balcony. (Plus models Kate Moss, Shalom Harlow, and Amber Valetta, Brad Pitt, producer Rick Rubin, and more.) It was a trip to watch more and more of us pleebs downstairs realize who you could see in the VIP section.
The most indelible image of the night was, for me, seeing Michael Stipe next to Bono, hanging over the railing, both playing air guitar and singing along to “Creep.” If it had been anyone but Radiohead playing most of OK Computer for the first time in NYC, it might have been entirely distracting. But everybody, from the famous to those down below, were entranced. Check out the actual VIP guestlist, an audio recording of the show and the setlist below.
Radiohead offshoot The Smile, which includes Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Sons of Kemet drummer Thom Skinner, released their terrific debut album last month. Pick that up on vinyl along with Radiohead records, in the BV shop.
SETLIST: Radiohead @ Irving Plaza 6/9/2017
My Iron Lung
Exit Music (for a Film)
Talk Show Host
Fake Plastic Trees
Climbing Up the Walls
Street Spirit (Fade Out)
Thinking About You