Radiohead are touring Australia. Apparently the light show is spectacular. Yet my recent experience of the band was somewhat removed from the arena shows that they are playing on their latest visit. Mine was an encounter that will live with me for a long time – despite the fact that it was on television.
After the first night of this year’s ACL Festival I headed off to the Continental Club to enjoy a midnight show from Chuck Prophet and his band. It was excellent and ended sometime around 1.30am whereupon I wandered back down South Congress to my lodgings on South First Street. I had enjoyed some beverages to be sure but only enough to make me feel rather glad that I was in Austin (not that you need to drink at all to have this feeling). I decided to break open the bottle of Vodka that someone had given me and enjoy a quiet nightcap while checking the emails, doing some reading and editing some interviews. It is hard to sleep when you are wired up after a great day’s music.
I switched on the TV and noticed that an episode of the excellent Austin City Limits show (which gave its name to the festival) was on and I left it in the background. Yet my attention was drawn to the television by the weird sounds emanating from it and a band that featured a lead singer who leapt around the stage and sang in English with a very strange accent.I was uncertain as to whether this was the worst band I had ever heard or possibly so progressive that I just did not understand what was going on.
Neither did I recognise any of the songs and as the singer’s movements became more exaggerated and his singing more frenetic I concluded that this was some French or Italian band that was touring America and had somehow managed to wangle a spot on ACL.
I favoured the Italian option due to the fact that I recalled a flatmate had once owned an album by PFM – Premiata Forneria Marconi – probably the only Italian band I could name at this hour of the morning (and their music was prog rock).
I occasionally glanced at the screen attempting to identify this outfit fronted by a man who was clearly theatrical in a kind of continental mode. Believe me, I swear he was singing with an accent. He was also bearded, had an arty haircut and was possibly swarthy (although the TV was a cheap import and had inferior colour tones, especially when viewed from an angle).
Anyway, despite the fact that the Lone Star beers and Vodka & Orange had combined to make me feel a little sleepy I was compelled to stay awake to find out the origins of the most European act I had seen all year.
Imagine my surprise when the credits rolled and the band was announced as Radiohead. Well, I never!’
I suppose that I will not get to see Radiohead in concert at any stage in the future but I have to say that they remain my favourite Italian band of all time.