Radiohead – Japanese_Step (Apocalypse Sound AS163 )
The Radiohead DVD release from Apocalypse Sound entitled, Japanese_Step is so good it should be illegal! Hands down, this pro shot video production is so well crafted, any music fan would find this concert very enjoyable. From the stage set-up to the amazing video displays behind the band, from the multi-camera angles bringing the audience right into the production, to the array of lights and music gadgetry Radiohead swarms through on stage! This Apocalypse Sound video concert is equally as psychedelic as an electric kool aid party back in San Francisco during the Height Ashbury days and adds tons of modern trippy rave’esque elements to the grand scheme of things. If you are a Radiohead ranging from say medico to fanatical, owning this dvd will be comparable to Raphie finding his his Red Ryder carbon action BB gun tucked behind his Christmas tree in the 1983 movie, A Christmas Story…..This DVD Is That Good !
Radiohead traveled to the far east to showcase new songs from their latest release, In Rainbows, and also bring back to life songs that appeared on their March 13th, 1995 release of, The Bends, and their endlessly admired, OK Computer album released on June 16th, 1997. Sit back, call up your buds and invite them over……..don’t forget the party favors and be prepared for a phenomenal show! Oh,….and turn on the surround sound, the sound quality is superb!
Track Listing: Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan, October 5th, 2008
01. 15 Steps
03. There There
04. All I need
05. Weird Fishes / Apreggi
06. The Gloaming
08. Jigsaw Falling Into Place
10. Fake Plastic Trees
13. Paranoid Android
15. Everything In It’s Right Place
16. My Iron Lung
17. How To Disappear Completely
Extra Features: Saturday Night Live, October 14th 2000
01. The National Anthem
The DVD starts out with a clear & concise menu nav…. so you do what did and jump right to the Saturday Night Live performances back in October of 2000 when they were showcasing tunes from KID A, Radiohead had just released this album two weeks before their performances on Saturday Night Live! Tom is completely off the chain during both of these performances!
OK…….so we are back to the main menu after flashing back to year 2000. And you can choose between Starting the concert, or you can choose songs by choice. I really appreciate the DVD author including that feature because I might be in the mood to hear something specific and it simple streamlined navigation rocks!. Alrighty…….I click on track one and the show starts out with “15 Steps”, a tune off of their revolutionary internet download release, In Raindows. In 2007, Radiohead decided to go independent and offered their new album to fans as an internet download. I am sure EMI shit a brick when they got word of this venture. Anyway, “15 Steps”, really gets the local crowd going with its driving techno-sounding beats and the stage light wizardry. Once the crowd is introduced to the entire spectacle of lights, sound and video feeds……all hands are in the air. I can’t help but notice Ed O’Brien, guitarist and backing vocalist, handling some type of hand-held electronic device apparently used to generate trippy sounds while walking around on stage. A Perfect show opener!
As “Just” is about to start, I can’t stop counting the different camera angles…..there must have been (10) cameras filming this gig…..at least (10) cameras! Thom Yorke picks up a beautiful red Gibson SG and rivets into “Just” with a vengeance! “Just”, from their 1995 release, The Bends simply kicks ass! As the band is jumping back and fourth from jazzy time signatures to hard-grinding power licks from master axe-man, Johnny Greenwood, this Japanese audience is transported to Kick-Assville in a hurry!! Yet another perfect opener!
Next up is ” There, There”, from their controversial 2003 George W. Bush slammer, Hail To The Thief. Radiohead brings in the some tarditional-like Japanese “Kumi-Daiko” drumming from Johnny Greenwood & Ed O’Brien as Thom utilizes gritty feedback and raspy strumming from his vintage Gibson 335……. “F notes” and all! Johnny Greenwood shifts over to his scuffed up Telecaster and rips through some screeching leads as the crane operated camera zooms over the audience to show the building frenzy of this fine number. Amazing performance accompanied by amazing lighting effects!
The next number, “All I Need”, off of In Raindows, brings the feverish concert momentum down to a slow pulsating heartbeat of percussion from super technical drummer, Phil Selway. The song builds with a B3 organ joining in to support Johnny Greenwood‘s very OK Computer’esque xylophone skills. Thom jumps over to piano and leads the band to a very passionate ending……..what an emotional version!
Up next we have “Weird Fishes / Apreggi” from, In Raindows. “Weird Fishes / Apreggi” is a testament to how well Radiohead immerses themselves into crafting songs that not only transport you mentally to a far off place above or below the ocean, but they also provide you with very transcendental information along the way. The term Arpeggio is the plural form of Arpeggio, which means……a broken chord where the notes are played or sung in sequence, one after the other, rather than ringing out simultaneously. The word, like many other musical terms, originates from Italian, in which it means “in the manner of the harp”. With that being said…….Johnny Greenwood’s broken note sequences coming from his Telecaster resemble the pitch of a harp being played by a Jazz artist in the middle of a light show! This song travelled nicely through Japan’s Saitama Super Arena. ……what an amazing tune!
Party favors should be kicking by now, but if they are not, the next number will most definitely help out! “The Gloaming”, off of the 2003 George W. Bush slammer, Hail To The Thief is beyond interesting, to say the very least,! The official title of this song being, “The Gloaming. (Softly Open our Mouths in the Cold.)” says a lot considering the style & perfection of this live performance. At times I felt as though Thom York’s voice was being distorted in a way that resembled someone singing when it is very cold outside…..almost as if your breath is being surrounded and stolen away by a frost covered thief. After watching this song, I have a different opinion of Ed O’Brien……he is more than a Guitarist / Backing Vocalist……..he is a sound sculptor! Much like Johnny Greenwood will sculpt ambient soundscapes with many different electronic tools, Ed O’Brien takes Thom Yorke’s voice and records certain phrases and back loops those phrases with specific effects only then to be sprinkled over Thom’s current lead vocals in a way that resembles cold rain falling on frozen breath! The arrangement, the incredible light sequences resembling falling rain, and the new jazzy backbeats in between verses make this number brand new!! Outstanding……simply perfect!
The next “stand-out” number is, “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” from Radiohead’s 2007 release, In Raindows. This arrangement is so tight & technical…….I must commend the Japanese audience for being so polite in between songs and giving the band so much respect during the quiet sections of tricky numbers. I am sure this tune requires a bunch of concentration and the audience was so kind. Radiohead is groovin & jammin like Phish or the Dead during this number……..Colin Greenwood on the bass, and Phil Selway on drums, resemble Phil Lesh jamming with Jon Fishman. Just one soild jam with nice dynamics going on left & right……just a great jam foundation for Johnny Greenwood & Thom Yorke to add some guitars & vocals with Ed O’Brien dragging some strange hand-held device over the strings of his Gibson Les Paul to create intense electronic cello ambience. If I would have been at this show, I would have spinning & dancing with such intensity that Japanese Police officers would have escorted out of the Saitama Super Arena in a hurry!
After this Japanese crowd freaked out on a very discothèque version of “Idioteque”, off of Radiohead’s 200 release, KID A, the band goes right into “Fake Plastic Trees” from their 1995 release, The Bends. UNBELIEVABLE AUDIENCE REACTION!! The Japanese people screamed with their arms high up in the air when Thom started strumming the first chords of this classic number! What a reaction! The momentum of this song builds into a frenzied state due to Johnny Greenwood’s lead guitar licks being nothing less than intensely provoking. The conclusion of this classic number shows extreme close-ups of the entire band as they bring the mood down to what is seemingly a quiet mantra of desperation from Thom’s “If I could be….. ” lyrics as the bands sound slowly fades away to and audience screaming with applause. Quite a number!
The next number is “Bodysnatchers”, which is off of their 2007 album, In Raindows, and when you see Thom Yorke hoisting up his Gibson SG axe, you know you are in for something. The moment Thom finishes hammering through the opening riffs and his first lyric begins, the stage lights up like a celebration. The camera angle switches to Johnny Greenwood and you can tell by his body language and unique strumming actions that he is about to become dangerous on stage! Ed O’Brien shifted over to a beautiful red Gibson 335 and is supporting Thom’s distorted strumming very nicely. The driving rhythm coming from Colin Greenwood on the bass, and Phil Selway on drums sounds like a herd of horses once owned by Samurai soldiers running through Saitama Super Arena. Thom Yorke’s bobbing head during his mumbling lyrical climax of this number resembles someone having an astral projection as Johnny Greenwood is wrenches his high pitched, feedback-filled leads to the ceiling! Completely overwhelming!
Radiohead is a master of dynamics and this is so evident as we float down from the ceiling from the pervious number and we are introduced to Thom Yorke striking the first piano notes of, “Videotape”, the very somber ending number from, In Raindows. The tune feels like a meditation…….a prayer, a eulogy read in front of a congregation. The blue lights set the mood as Johnny Greenwood & Phil Selway trade off on interesting percussion licks and ambience. Thom seemed to have drifted off in a trance during his emotional rants & Greenwood & Selway bring him back to earth in time to complete the number. Very spiritual!
Up next we have “Paranoid Android” from the 1997 release, OK Computer. The moment Thom straps on his Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar, certain audience members start yelling his name & once he asked the crowd if they are ready, this fantastic number has everyones hands in the air! Phil Selway’s unique percussion work during the early stages of this tune are equal in parallel to Charlie Watts’ drumming percussion. Then the song, the stage, the lights, the band simply explodes into a tidal wave from below. Once the wave subsides, a very Procol Harem musical mood sets in with a deeper shade of blue. Clouds move in and the liquid lighting effects shower the stage as the audience waves their arms back and fourth making sure to keep time with Thom’s acoustic strums humming around the arena, but the band explodes again in a berserk
conclusion that is met with huge cheers! One of the best numbers by far!!
The next standout number is, “Everything In Its Right Place” , from their 2000 masterpiece, KID A. Thom sits down at his B3 and starts mumbling “This one goes out to the one I love…..” from REM’s “Loosing My Religion” tune. Ed O’Brien has his hands on some gadgetry that is making Thom’s voice loop and distort just this number is about to lift off. It appears that Thom has a Tibetan flag hanging from the front of his B3 as the crane cam is swimming above the crowd that is being greeted with a trippy number and light show. Colin Greenwood on the bass, and Phil Selway on drums are just grooving as Ed O’Brien & Johnny Greenwood are feedbacking & distorting & looping sounds & vocals. The rest of the band leaves the stage and soon as the loop is dialed in the entire band has left as the word, “EVERYTHING” is scrolling across the backdrop. Trippy…..very trippy!
The band comes back for what appears to be the encores and “My Iron Lung” from their 1995 release, The Bends, is first up…and the next encore is “How To Disappear Completely”, from their 2000 masterpiece, KID A. Both numbers were perfect, but the haunting expression on Johnny Greenwood’s face during the beginning of “How To Disappear Completely”, was priceless. I am a firm believer that this DVD show could in fact become a official band release due to the fact that it is that good! The packaging is very nice with its tri-fold design, however the photos included in the case are not from the show. That is not a big deal by any means, but since I make my living off of graphic / web design…….it just caught my eye. Overall, this DVD package is a must have for any Radiohead fan!!! HURRY…..THEY WILL DISAPPEAR COMPLETELY!If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)Radiohead - Japanese_Step (Apocalypse Sound AS163 ),