I Might Be Wrong (Live)
By late 2001, Radiohead was thriving—in spite of some naysayers’ predictions. Record-label executives and critics had initially dubbed the group’s 2000 album Kid A “commercial suicide,” and claimed the band’s electronic volte-face had turned the band members into miserabilists—still whining about society and dejection, but now doing it in a formless mess. But the back-to-back successes of Kid A and its follow-up, Amnesiac, validated the band’s new direction—as did I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, an ecstatic rejoinder to those potshots. Released in the fall of 2001, it captures the euphoria that greeted the band as it mounted an extensive world tour. On these eight songs, you can hear crowds screaming in fits, from the French Alps to the banks of Ohio’s Cuyahoga River. More importantly, you can hear the members themselves having a legitimate blast, adapting these amorphous songs for the stage, and digging into them with impressive improvisational gusto. “It was so much fun,” Thom Yorke later said of the Kid A era, “like the kids are being given the keys to the sports car.” Onstage, the band had dropped some of the more cerebral aspects of Kid A and Amnesiac for pure aggression. Yorke swivels and gasps over the blown-out bass during set opener “The National Anthem,” with Jonny Greenwood howling on the ondes Martenot like a furious ghost in the distance. For a band that had disavowed rock, the exit of “I Might Be Wrong” borders on Sonic Youth abrasion, as the guitars claw at Philip Selway’s churn. And “Idioteque,” already the seat of Kid A’s power, finds a new fever pitch, with Yorke sailing into paroxysms over a cavalcade of drums. The hometown Oxford crowd joins him for his devilish chant: “Take the money and run.” I Might Be Wrong also doubles as something of a rarities collection. “Like Spinning Plates” would move in and out of the group’s set lists in years to come, but the Amnesiac oddity becomes a star-gazing beauty here: Above a romantic piano, with electronic washes dissolving through the mix, Yorke sounds unapologetically plaintive as he pleads for mercy. And the album concludes during the summer of 2001 at the Hollywood Bowl with a performance of “True Love Waits,” a fan favorite since the days of The Bends—and a song the group would struggle for years to get right in the studio. Simple and yearning, with lyrics begging for someone to stay, “True Love Waits” was a reminder that the members of Radiohead—seen then as the most important, and arguably the most pretentious, band in the world—were only humans, too, simply trying to muddle through this set and onto the next.