For the first time in 7 years, Radiohead have played their chart-topping hit from Pablo Honey, “Creep” live in concert.
The song, which put Radiohead on the map commercially, is one of, if not their absolute least favourite tracks to play live, previously calling the single “crap”. Take a look at the fan-shot footage from their Paris show Sunday night, below:
“Their first Ep in May 1992, Drill (first chorus: ‘I’m better off dead’), was refreshingly dark and insistent, invigorating enough immediately to win them a fiercely loyal following. But disaster struck when their second, ‘Creep’ (with the chorus: ‘I wish I was special/ You’re so fucking special/ But I’m a creep’), became a one-song phenomenon, an American anthem of alienation and self-loathing, propelling their first album, Pablo Honey, into the American Top 40. In a self-fulfilling prophecy, Yorke became ‘the Creep guy’.
Far from providing a sort of palliative to their neuroses, Radiohead turned success into something that only made matters worse. Encouraged by their American record company to capitalize, they toured the States for months, realizing too late that they where still playing material that was over two years old; just another band that turns into something they hate.
‘We sucked Satan’s cock,’ Yorke spits, with typical scorn, ‘It took a year-and-a-half to get back to the people we were… to cope with it emotionally.’ By then, says guitarist Jonny Greenwood, they were ‘operating in a kind of stasis. Thom was trying to shut off from everything. The rest of us weren’t communicating.’ Sick of touring, by the time they went back into the studio, they had become phobic about recording anything. Their confidence was shot.
‘We were like paranoid little mice in cages,’ says Greenwood. ‘We were scared of our instruments, scared of every note not being right.’ Perhaps the secret of their success is that they learnt to turn their paranoia into a virtue. Contrary to popular wisdom, it’s often a band’s second album that proves to be their most natural and direct expression; where they shake off their influences (in Yorke’s case, early Elvis Costello) and get the confidence to be themselves.”
Selfishly, we hope they continue to play “Creep” on the rest of their A Moon Shaped Pool tour, but maybe for the sake of their mental-well being we can just survive off this footage for the next decade.