89. London, BBC Broadcasting House, 1 April 2008

In January of the new year, the band emerge to play what was planned to be an in-store at Rough Trade East in Spittlefields, London and turns into an impromptu gig in tiny venue 93 Feet East. In Glasgow, at work, glued to developments as they unfold on the faithfully Radiohead-obsessed BBC 6 Music, I stand in the corridor swearing down the phone to the few boardies that make it to the show. I don’t like secret shows, I especially don’t like secret shows that I have no chance of being at. As evidence of this gig emerges, my pining for gigs gets worse.

In March the BBC announce that Radiohead will be held captive in Broadcasting House for a whole day. Or rather as the BBC website would have it:

Radiohead: Double Duty
Band to perform two free gigs for the BBC
11 March 2008 – Radiohead are to play two free concerts for the BBC in London on 01 April and 6 Music listeners are in with a double chance of seeing them.
The band will perform at the BBC’s Radio Theatre in Broadcasting House on 01 April for BBC Radio 2 and they will also play a matinee concert at the same venue, on the same day, for BBC 6 Music.
6 Music will record the matinee performance and you’ll be able to hear tracks from it between 4pm and 7pm.
Fans can apply for tickets to see Thom and co at the Radio 2 concert by calling 08700 100 200. Phone lines will close on 13 March and winners will be chosen at random.
Steve Lamacq will announce details of how you can attend the matinee performance on his show on 17 March. Tune in from 4pm for full details.

Demand for tickets is obviously huge, even more than for the Maida Vale show a few years ago. I try everything and abandon all dignity, emailing everyone I can think of to try to beg tickets. No BBC contact or Radiohead insider is safe.

A select group of boardies who are either in London (and can therefore drop everything and turn up), are in Europe (and are therefore theoretically able to drop everything, jump on a plane and turn up) or are desperate and dissatisfied enough with their jobs that they can ditch to London for a few days (me) form a cartel and start calling in favours.

We get friends to enter the BBC competitions on the condition that tickets will be surrendered, we register multiple email addresses, we follow every tip off about the number of tickets, about WASTE fanclub ticket lotteries, about BBC staff allocation…

Tim can’t help. Julie is too busy, I don’t feel confident asking Mel…

I find out with moments to spare that I have a pair of tickets from Waste’s allocation. I don’t ask questions, I tell Gabi the spare is hers, book us a cheap hotel in Paddington and get myself to Regent Street.

I’m already in London when I find out that I have a job interview in Ealing the day after the show.

My tickets are for the second gig of the day, so we spend the afternoon hanging around, eating Greek food and having ill advised beers to stave off the nerves.

Mel is on the door with the tickets but no one is saying anything about how these bits of gold dust came to be there, ask no questions, keep your head down and get inside.

I’m actually inside Broadcasting House, this alone is overwhelming. We are herded in and I find that the others have saved me a seat on the front row. From here on everything takes on the texture of a weird dream.

On very little sleep, the added stress of an impending job interview (which turned out to be a total bust). Being so close to the stage in this setting was very weird. It wasn’t like a gig, but a polished performance for radio. Thom seemed tired from doing interviews all day and a gig in the afternoon. The band were very focused. Thom singing with his eyes closed and not making contact with the audience. No release. Thom needs a haircut. I need a proper live show.

Somewhere in all the acres of coverage, a large venue summer tour is announced. I hatch a plan…