I have an almighty hangover.
Earplugs and eye mask only get you so much sleep on the floor of an open plan flat with three other people in it.
Regrouping in the shopping centre at Hammersmith, Gabi and I have a meal but I’m still feeling a little unusual by the time we head to the venue. I have a standing ticket tonight. Lots of boardies are here queuing, I make a deal and save myself a place but I’m not even going to try to make it to the front. Gabi and some of the others do. Last night was one of those shows that makes you vow never to stand anywhere else but I don’t quite have the moral fibre for it so I hang back with a gang of boardies leaning on a rail in the middle of the floor.
After the support, just before the surge, I need the bathroom. In this old theatre it’s at the side of the hall through a small corridor, not a moment for claustrophobia. I tunnel my way out, do the necessary then with head-down-elbows-out fight my way back in. Facing down disapproval with every “’scuse me.”
It takes longer to get back than it took to get out, while I was in the ablutions the crowd has constricted, this phenomenon occurs at every packed show but you can never quite predict the moment it will happen. At a Radiohead show like this, it usually happens too soon and the last ten minutes or so before the band come on stage is spent squashed, in a state of high tension.
“I’m trying to get back to my friends,” I keep repeating as I dodge around people’s pints and black looks. Attempting to get further into the crowd at this late stage is very poor form, I rarely try this unless I am actually returning to my spot (once or twice it has become necessary to employ the manoeuvre to get a better view, but it usually comes back to bite you).
I tap the girl in front of me on the shoulder, “Excuse me I’m trying to get to my friends” she turns round and it’s Shirley who is in fact one of the friends in question. I take my place between her and Marv and try to collect my thoughts. I am flustered, my stomach hurts, I’m dead tired but I’m still wired enough to keep me going.
The venues this week have not been tiny but they are small in comparison to outdoor gigs. The rooms are large enough to benefit from the screens that float at the back of the stage. Tiny cameras positioned at strategic points around the stage capture little details of the band in action: a foot on a pedal, Jonny’s fringe, Ed’s shakers. My favourite is the one I think of as “nose cam” which allows Thom to sing into it in extreme close up while at the piano, employed to best effect during You And Whose Army which to shake things up a bit, opens tonight’s set.
There are nine new songs tonight: Open Pick, 15 Step, Arpeggi, Videotape, Go Slowly, Spooks, Bangers ‘n’ Mash (My initial amusement at Thom’s tiny drum kit has given way to enthusiasm for Jonny’s snake charming guitar), House of Cards and 4 Minute Warning which they played (and fluffed) in Copenhagen, which involves Ed, Colin (with two tambourines) and Jonny congregating around Thom’s piano for a slow number apparently about nuclear war. They don’t play Nude tonight and some of those titles need work, but they have at least an album worth of new material. There is even room in the set for Street Spirit and to my delight, Black Star (with audible vocals from Ed!). They finish on Karma Police and people who have come for a sing-a-long get their money’s worth.
Keiko bestows her pass upon me. This is my last show of this tour and she wants me to be able to talk to Thom. In the foyer, we’re doing our usual thing of waiting for useful people, waiting for everyone else to leave while not getting thrown out ourselves. Ken, straight from work and still in his suit, has a photo pass, Gabi is on a high from being at the front and I want to take her with me but can’t find anyone who can make this happen. I stick the pass to my jeans, tell her to not get thrown out, and go upstairs to the bar. Ken strolls in with his obscured photo pass and a business like smile at the bouncer (sharp dressing in this context means you’re industry – looking like you belong here is half the battle).
Upstairs, we find Mel from W.A.S.T.E., who Ken has met before and who now remembers me. We ask her nicely if she could possibly see her way to getting Gabi up here. She leaves us in charge of her son Cole (who is about 10 and wearing a Radiohead shirt a few sizes too big for him). He has the dazed look of someone who has just had their world rocked off its axis. Radiohead shows will do that to you.
We take in the scene in the bar, the afters are already in full swing. There’s Adam Buxton talking to Julian Barrett and some other comedian I can’t quite place. There are a few familiar crew faces around and I go for a sweep of the room to see if I can find Tim. He’s on the edge of a group of folks who are surrounding someone I can’t quite see. I go over to say hello and realise that the person at the centre of the group is the young actor Daniel Radcliffe, now about 16. I do a double take and carry on talking to Tim who says something about it being an all ages show… Back near the door, Ken is still waiting for Mel to come back. Cole is minding his own business, still getting his breath back.
“Do you want to meet somebody?” I ask.
His eyes pop out of his head when he sees who it is and I shepherd him over to Tim, “Do you think he’d mind?” I step back and let the only other actual kid in the room meet a Wizard.
Mel has returned with Gabi and demands to know what we’ve done with her boy, we explain that he’s over there, talking to Harry Potter and he won’t be long…
I’m off the sauce this evening and need a sit down, just my luck that tonight is the free bar (should have kept my powder dry for the last night of the UK leg.) I let it all go on around me for a while, these things are all about waiting. Tonight I am sweaty and goggle eyed which is not a good look when the bouncers have their eye on you. I find a vantage point and watch as Daniel Radcliffe is introduced to Thom Yorke. He has the same look of shock and awe that Mel’s son had on meeting him.
Later Thom is at the bar talking to an older, well dressed couple. It’s not his parents and they look too formal for industry folk. If I don’t go now, he will be gone. He does this thing where he has a spare drink in his hand ready to head off to a private area where no one will be allowed to follow like he’s only just popped into the bar to see if there’s anyone he should be talking to. This usually only happens after an hour or so when the first wave of liggers has drunk all the free booze and left the building.
I’m trying to time this right, I don’t want to interrupt his conversation, but I also don’t want him to leave without having the chance to at least say hello. I hate it when people interrupt us, so I don’t want to do it myself. The security guy has been clocking me for the last 15 minutes, I’m sitting on my own without a drink and I doubtless look dodgy. He will not hesitate to put me out in the street without an excuse. I head for the bar and the edge of Thom’s conversation with the couple. For once I’m sober when everyone else is several sheets to the wind.
“Oh hello,” he says when he spots me, “this is Lucy who’s been coming to see us since nineteen ninety… what is it?”
“Three.” We both pull an “oh shit” face.
“Bet that makes you feel old!” says the chap.
Thom is not quite laughing, “These are my neighbours from… oh you’re not meant to know this…” he tells me where and I stick my fingers in my ears pretending not to hear.
We get to talk then, the couple realise that I’m not here for an autograph, I want to ask about the solo album, “So it’s not drum and bass then?” He scowls at me. He says he’s doing a photo shoot around London “in a dirty raincoat”.
He says something about doing anything after three beers, and he’s clearly had more than that by now, but the bar is closing and he has to go.
Julie from the management appears and before I know it Thom is gone.
Julie comes back, clutching a large cardboard folder, unusually she’s a bit drunk too. It’s her birthday, she’s been to fetch some artwork from Stanley. She lets me sneak a look at what will be the long fold out cover of The Eraser. I thank her profusely for her help getting me on the guest list and she tells me how many people she turned down, Razorlight weren’t getting in but apparently Keane were here, Jamie Oliver, Siouxsie Sioux (I thought that was her). LA is so over subscribed they’ve already turned about 50 big names away.
I don’t remember getting back to the flat.
Next day, Yasuko, Yama and I head into Soho to see the rest of Stanley’s exhibition at Lazarides Gallery (I’d missed the opening last night as it was before the show). I have no idea what this album will sound like yet but the artwork looks like a black and white vision of my walk down Fleet Street…