A northern show to balance out the two consecutive V Festival appearances (money in the bank against any future risks to be taken while being without a label). Tacked on to the T on the Fringe bill, although this show is a headline gig and not a true festival appearance, everything in Edinburgh in August is labelled “festival”.
The night before, Boardies Shirley, Anthea, Tim C, and Jodi meet me in Glasgow and we go to the cinema to see silly Jack Black comedy Nacho Libre and then end up in a Monday Open Mic Night at a bar called Bloc. I am persuaded to air my karaoke Fake Plastic Trees… later Ange shows up and kips at my flat.
Next day to Edinburgh. Melody Nelson, sends intelligence on the size of the venue and the various plans to meet up before the show. Yama and Yasuko have a B&B booked as close to the venue as they could find and I plan to crash with them. Meadowbank is a large venue holding 25,000 usually used for sport and only occasionally used for gigs.
I bought a ticket, then found out that Julie from the management has put me on the list. Then at the last minute, a work email informs me I have a plus one from the promoter.
Ange wants to see Edinburgh Castle so we go there first and take some photos. Knowing I have guest list tickets, I decide not to queue. Nearly everyone has a mobile now so most of the organising is done on the hoof. With all these spares I seem to be a hub for ticket exchange, I set Ange up with a free spare, as she is really short of cash we try to sell the others, but no one coming down from town to the stadium needs one. It seems there were more tickets released after the initial run sold out.
It gets nearer and nearer to show time. I can hear first support act Deerhoof inside, already on stage and I need to be in the arena. We run for the door and throw the spare tickets to a group of people sitting on the grass outside, one day this good fortune will revisit us in a time of need, “Use them, give them away, it’s Ticket Karma!”
We have beaten the crush to an extent, and we end up somewhere in the middle for the eccentric and enjoyable Deerhoof set. As it gets busier I have a decent view of Beck, whose show begins with an extended film of his puppet alter ego touring the city. The last time I saw him play was a few years ago at The Gig On The Green in Glasgow, during the Sexx Laws tour when they played in jumpsuits with police incident tape around the stage, I’d not seen him since and he gives good live show. It’s weird to have a light hearted act supporting Radiohead.
The weather has held and this long night is still light, if a little chilly, when the band appear. Jonny has his hood up, Thom with denim jacket buttoned. Through Beck’s set I’d gradually got pushed further and further back. Meadowbank is a wide arena with the stage set up in the middle of the athletics field. By the time the crowd consolidates I find myself way back in the centre of a tightly packed scrum. I tell myself I can stand it, but I’ve lost most of the people I came with and I don’t have any allies to help me stand my ground. Radiohead come on with Airbag, then 2+2=5 then The National Anthem. The mosh gets increasingly ferocious, this crowd are on the move and I realise that I won’t stand much more or be able to see anything. It’s dark now and I have to jump up and down to even see the lights.
I duck out to the side, can see the running tracks marked on the ground under my feet. As the set goes on I keep moving, trying to get a vantage point at one side or the other, but there are too many heads in my way, no matter where I end up I can’t see. I give in and dance, trying to work off some of the nervous energy I have bottled up. The set is has more regular-crowd pleasers than the May tour, Videotape and Nude slot elegantly into the middle, giving a respite from the singing along and the younger than average crowd throwing its weight about. I keep dancing. Another short new one, All I Need, slows the pace for a couple of minutes. I pause and watch the big screens.
They keep playing for over two hours, they’ve played 24 songs including True Love Waits. I’ve got nothing left, I feel like I’ve been beaten up or run laps of this track.
Then they play Creep and I laugh my head off. The lights blaze as Jonny’s guitar cracks, Thom is just about drowned out as a forest of arms go aloft.
Yasuko and I take our passes and eventually find the aftershow in a commentary box at the side of the stadium. The toilets are no longer plumbed in and it’s all a bit ramshackle. The band are off somewhere else. Someone spotted the tiny figure of Johnny Marr so they’ve doubtless got an inner sanctum for the likes of him. I say hello to Thom as he passes through and see Phil talking to Kate Rusby in a corner. I push Yasuko to speak to Thom as he comes back in and he tells us he’s off to have his back done (they’ve got a masseur!) I could use that myself right now, I have headbanger’s neck.