If you’ve been following music news at all the past month, then you most likely have heard about Radiohead and their controversial concert in Israel. While there was plenty of those who denounced the concert and called for Radiohead to boycott, the band stood firm.
Last night, Thom Yorke and company played their hotly-debated concert in Tel Aviv. The concert featured a diverse lineup supporting Radiohead. Israeli-Iraqi-Yemenite Dudu Tass, Arab-Israeli Nasreen Qadri and Indian Urdu/Hindi musician Ben Tzur (who joined Radiohead’s composer Johnny Greenwood) opened for the alternative rock behemoths.
The set was the band’s first in 17 years, and were greeted with “squeals of joy” as they approached the stage, and after opening with “Daydreaming,” turned the crowd still and silent. According to sources, the Tel Aviv concert was the band’s longest since 2006, with Yorke telling the crowd “We ain’t done yet. We came all this way so we’re gonna play our fingers off,” before the band jumped into their second encore, rounding out the show with a whopping twenty-seven tracks.
Given the controversy that surrounds Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu (a quick google search will give you plenty of material), there were several artists (and some protesters) who were openly vocal in their opposition to the concert. Thurston Moore, Tunde Adebimpe, and even Roger Waters all condemned the idea. But despite that, Yorke didn’t it let it affect the group’s decision. “A lot of stuff was said about this but, in the end, we played some music,” Yorke told the Israeli crowd, before starting their final song, “Karma Police.”
When pressed specifically about Netanyahu, Yorke defended the concert saying “We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America…Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government.” In addition to Michael Stipe defending the band, opener Qadri defended the group in a statement.
“I am a Muslim Arab woman. I am a singer. And this Wednesday, I will share the stage with Radiohead in their concert.”
According to Qadri, music is vital in situations such as these to help empathize and connect with those with different backgrounds and beliefs. “I believe that it has everything to do with endorsing its people, and using music to engage with them. After all, if we don’t engage one another, and work together, we will never find peace between us.”
The band also recently released their 20th anniversary edition of OK Computer. You can check out several videos of the set below.
Photo Credit: Raymond Flotat