Radiohead at Reading. What do you think?

Curious one this. Nick Hasted of the Independent writes about the Reading Festival:

“Radiohead’s modern jazz wrong-foots the crowd: […]it was left to last night’s closing act Radiohead to wrong-foot everyone. [..] The next hour, in which, on songs such as “All I Need”, Radiohead casually become a modern jazz quintet, xylophones, brushed cymbals and a crooning Yorke to the fore, leads to such a thinning of the crowd around me, I could almost walk up to the singer.”

The reproduction quality makes it hard to hear…and, hey, I’m about 40 years too old to have attended the Reading Festival….but I’m curiously drawn to this. What do you think?!


Categories: miscellaneous

10 replies »

  1. What's strange is Nick Hasted's idea of what's “a modern jazz quintet.” This version is not particularly jazzy, is it?

  2. Thank you , neverneutral.

    And you're right I did wonder if Hasted was using the word “jazz” as shorthand for , say, “self-indulgent” and “introspective”..or worse.

    As I wrote, one can't really hear, but the groove does sound like it's being worked over and developed….a bit?

  3. I agree with Neverneutral that the music on the clip by Radiohead , although intriguing as far as I can hear it, is not jazz and that the reviewer seems to be calling it jazz in order to dismiss the performance. But there is a tendency for certain styles of non-classical music that are doing something interesting and a bit more complicated to be defined as jazz. I am thinking here of bands like Tortoise and Yo La Tengo, which are great bands that I enjoy listening to, but do not, in my opinion, play jazz.

    I say this not as a pedantic purist, but rather to point to a fascinating current phenomenon in contemporary jazz and rock. There are many great young bands, both in UK and USA and no doubt in many other countries too, who are breaking down barriers and it is often difficult to decide whether it is jazz or rock. I am thinking of bands like Troyka, Acoustic Ladyland, Alas No Axis, The Invisible. Of course ultimately it does not matter as long as the music is good, but nonetheless I do feel that we should be clear about what we mean by jazz – again NOT for any purist reasons, but more because we need to be clear to audiences. For me there has to be that element of improvisation and surprise for it to be jazz, and, therefore, I would consider Troyka and Acoustic Ladyland to be jazz whereas the extract from Radiohead isn't. Interestingly, The Invisible is a great band made up of three fine jazz players whose music I love (having promoted them in a club night in Birmingham), but the music probably isn't jazz. No criticism there of course, it is excellent rock played by three excellent musicians. If we can can be clear that bands like Troyka and Alas No Axis can be defined as jazz, what do we call the other stuff? There is a lot happening in this indefinable area and we need to capture it with some sort of name. But perhaps all these attempts at classification are just a road to madness!

    Tony Dudley-Evans

  4. I am a jazz fan and a Radiohead fan (they are in their 40-50's by the way Seb!) their music is very inventive. They are electronica rock I would say….
    Seen them live (with 200 others) they are brilliant musicians.

  5. HI – check out the comments on Nick Hasted's Review on the Independent's page. It's been highly criticised for its inaccuracies. There are elements akin to jazz in a couple of the songs the band played – but have a listen to the BBC coverage on BBC red-button interactive to gain a better idea. Incidently, although not myself a huge jazz fan, you might like large chucks of In Rainbows – there's a sort of Metheny mellowness about much of it – and it opens with a rock/blues/electronic song in 5/4 time. D

  6. what a load of bollocks. i was at reading and believe me there was no thinning of the crowd.

    jazz, no it is not!

  7. Who is Nick Hasted? He seems to know nothing about jazz. How many jazz xylophone players can you name? Perhaps one: Red Norvo ( and he played the Marimba in any case)Rock bands are not usually musicians. Their contribution to anything is purely a social phenomenon. Nothing to do with their music which has (with a few notable exception) an amoeba like quality. For many decades we have been the victims of the myth that rock music is music. It is not. It is all rubbish. The Beatles are responsible for the destruction of popular music in my view

  8. I'm a huge jazz fan, with some 3,500 jazz albums in my collection, and I think Radiohead is one of the most brilliant and inventive bands of the past 15 years, regardless of “genre”. But they certainly aren't “jazz.” However, their masterwork, “OK Computer” (1997), was clearly influenced by late-60s Mile Davis works, which the band readily acknowledged. BTW, the band's guitarist, Jonny Greewood, is the BBC's composer in residence, has produced some critically-acclaimed works in the position. As the reader above rightly noted, Radiohead is best described as rock-electronica, but even that doesn't do justice to the breadth of their excellent body of work.

  9. This came in by email:

    On the Radiohead/jazz thing: your last
    opinion man, a Mr Olsen, is spot-on. My son (21) is a huge R/d
    fan, & occasionally plunders my jazz collection for stuff he fancies –
    Troyka, Polar Bear, Fraud, Led Bib, all of which should give you an idea
    of the nerve they're touching…

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