92. Nîmes, Arènes de Nîmes, 14 June 2008

Rather than go straight to Paris for the indoor gigs, I spend a few days in London catching up with sleep and exploring. I take the Eurostar to Paris, a nicer experience than any airports I’ve been through recently.

In Paris I had a look around the Patti Smith exhibition at the Foundation Cartier. It was a mix of photos and objects that commemorate Rimbaud and Robert Mapplethorpe. Apparently she was here earlier in the week and played a small gig. For sale in the shop, she had selected books, films and music. French editions of the works of Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Rimbaud and her own CDs… The only remotely contemporary discs were Pablo Honey, The Bends and OK Computer… Wonder if she went to see Radiohead while she was here.

 

I stay a night with Naz then take the train to Nimes… here’s what I wrote the morning after the show:

Seriously, how? How do I write this? How do you write up something… I mean, I knew this would be a good one, with that venue… but… as soon as we got inside it was gonna be pretty special.

But.

When the Mexican Waves started and the guy throwing the nuts into the crowd and catching the money got cheers from the whole arena, you knew there was gonna be a bit of atmosphere.

After about the twentieth Mexican Wave my arms started to hurt.

We were in the best tier of seating (one up from the floor level, good view), right on the front row, so had a completely un-obscured view of the stage. Far enough back to see everything and really appreciate the lights for the first time. The beer kept coming – at one point, the guy selling the beer actually came up to the seats to sell us MORE beer, that did my head in! Just before they came on!?

After telling me there were only two starting songs for the setlist, they promptly played Reckoner and went on… well, I’ll put a picture of the setlist in there.

Safe to say they played all the good In Rainbows stuff, Where I End and You Begin, which for some reason sounded better – well, all the HTTT stuff sounds better live anyway. Everything In Its Right Place in the middle… which was so good Thom had to have a lie down in front of the monitors at the end. Is it 15 step where Thom goes mad dancing in the middle? or is that Bodysnatchers… nope, not Bodysnatchers… I think we MAY have mastered the 15 Step hand clap intro.

For the encore we were sitting taking bets as to what they would play next. Clara was praying for Planet Telex and got it… it really works with the rainbow lights. I mean, how do you do a set that good without playing Just? My Iron Lung? Fake Plastic Trees? But they managed it.

By the time the gig had finished, I just had to sit down and take it all in for a few minutes and put up with the usual glut of people asking me if I’m alright. Beer fuelled mayhem ensued later. It’s very strange emerging from an aftershow to a crowd of screaming French people who were all hoping you were going to be one of the band and that you’d come and sign their arms, or tickets, or something. It’s weird being on the other side, but good. Aftershows aren’t the glamorous things people think they’re going to be. There’s some beer in a bucket in a corridor and some very bad toilets. Immaculately drunk Japanese women, professional liggers, band members chilling out (with notable exceptions) Where did all these people come from? I wonder what they all do.