Flashback To An Early Radiohead Gig At Chicago’s Metro Theatre In 1993

Flashback To An Early Radiohead Gig At Chicago’s Metro Theatre In 1993

Posted 6 Jan 2020
thom yorke
Radiohead performing live in 1993. Photo by Michel Linssen/Redferns. 

By mid-1993, British alt-rockers, Radiohead were the band on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Their anthemic debut single, “Creep” from Pablo Honey had been a slow burn, failing to crack the UK Top 20 when it was first released in September 1992. However, support was gaining momentum in other territories, landing the young band on a fast track to stardom when the music video for "Creep" hit heavy rotation on MTV over six months later. 

And support came from a rather unlikely place. “Creep” was picked up by Israeli radio stations and championed by influential DJ Yoav Kutner when Pablo Honey was first released. In March, Radiohead was invited to Tel Aviv for their first ever overseas gig; around the same time that San Francisco alternative radio station KITS added "Creep" to its playlist. Many west coast radio stations followed suit and by the time Radiohead began their first North American tour in June of 1993, “Creep” was sitting at number two on the US modern rock chart. 

Pablo Honey was fast becoming a global staple as U.S. audiences were first being introduced to Radiohead. Without much else to go by, much of the crowd were likely expecting an extended setlist of songs like “Creep” – which they delivered with gusto. The audience was then treated to a very unexpected debut performance of the title track from their next record, 1995’s The Bends, almost two years before its release. Singer, Thom Yorke introduced what would become a very special song for diehard fans as, “a song about knowing who your friends are. This is called ‘The Bends.’” 

Watch the full performance below, including a short intro interview, bursting with youthful enthusiasm from Thom Yorke and bassist, Colin Greenwood.

Radiohead | Live at Metro (+ interview), Chicago, 1993  

English critics who had dismissed the newcomers as Nirvana-lite and labelled their sound as “too depressing” were forced to eat their words when their follow-up album, The Bends was released in 1995. The album’s complex production and alienated themes place them outside the realm of grunge, cementing their position as a unique and timeless band in a realm of their own.

In a 1997 interview, guitarist, Ed O'Brien said: "Heaven forbid anyone should judge us on ‘Pablo Honey’. We were in hock to Dinosaur Jr. and the Pixies up to our eyeballs."

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