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Radiohead actually played “Creep” during their concert in Paris this evening

on May 23, 2016, 6:03pm

Video via YouTube / Netranger09

“Creep” will forever be emblematic of the radio-friendly alt-rock that Radiohead grew to despise mere minutes after Pablo Honey hit record shelves two decades ago. The band has affectionately described their best-selling single as “crap,” and deemed fans who requested it in concert as “anally retarded.”

A 1996 feature in the Guardian saw the band detail the emotional distress the song caused, with Thom Yorke describing the subsequent two-year world tour as akin to “[sucking] Satan’s cock.”

“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.”

All this makes tonight’s setlist in Paris a really big deal, because Radiohead actually performed “Creep”.

“This is for the funny guy shouting ‘Creep’ in the back,” Yorke said prior to the performance. “Only to shock you.” That’s an understatement. 

In addition to “Creep”, Radiohead performed “True Love Waits” for the first time since the release of A Moon Shaped Pool, and delivered the tour debuts of “No Surprises” and “Pyramid Song”.

Setlist:
Burn the Witch
Daydreaming
Decks Dark
Desert Island Disk
Ful Stop
Lotus Flower
The National Anthem
My Iron Lung
No Surprises (First performance since 2009)
Bloom (Happy Birthday sung to Phil)
Identikit
The Numbers
Separator
The Gloaming
Everything in Its Right Place
Idioteque
Bodysnatchers

Encore:
True Love Waits (First full performance since 2006)
Present Tense
Paranoid Android
Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

Encore 2:
Creep (First performance since 2009)
Pyramid Song

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