Radiohead could very easily have reimagined the stylistic parameters of 1993's Pablo Honey and its eventual signature hit “Creep” in slightly varying degrees over the course of a dozen subsequent albums and made a rainbow's-end kettle of cash as well as a respectable career out of that enterprise. Thankfully, the band's Saint Vitus-infused frontman Thom Yorke and his mad science Art Rock cohorts had zero interest in climbing aboard the Pop treadmill and churning out washed out Xerox copies of a single (and singular) early triumph in order to cash cow their way to the middling top. From the start, Radiohead had a more complex and elaborate vision of how they would take over the world; look at the sea change of differences between the band's impressive debut, the startling sophomore leap of 1995's The Bends, the jaw-dropping advances of 1997's OK Computer and the structural dismantling of 2000's Kid A. From somewhere beyond the veil, Charles Darwin was muttering about evolution taking a shitload more time than seven years.
If longtime producer Nigel Godrich, a fixture in Radiohead's firmament since engineering the My Iron Lung EP in 1994, is looked upon as the band's sixth member, then their creative conviction could be considered their seventh. The group's restless and yet never cavalier search for exciting new modes of expression, their courage in walking away from the corporate safety net and succeeding with a pay-what-you-want model, the sonic self-awareness necessary to seamlessly incorporate electronics and orchestration into their malleable architecture, and the focus required to maintain continuity of message in the breadth of experience between commentary on the human condition and political outrage — these are hallmarks of Radiohead's brilliant playbook.
An equal part of Radiohead's amazing creative curriculum vitae is Yorke's blazingly original solo experimentations and guitarist Jonny Greenwood's astonishing soundtrack work; the remaining 'heads — guitarist Ed O'Brien, bassist Colin Greenwood and drummer Philip Selway — have worked extensively outside the band and either have released or are planning solo excursions as well. And that may speak to the most impressive aspect of Radiohead's sonic diversity over the years; it has been achieved by the same five contributors since the band's formation in 1985. No influx of new ideas or new influences by virtue of personnel shake-ups and replacements, just an incredible quintet of impossibly gifted musicians finding exciting new musical possibilities within the confines of their genius cloister.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 25. Tickets start at $85. U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway St., Downtown. Tickets here.