Flashback: Radiohead Play an Early Version of ‘The Bends’ in 1993
Radiohead were just one week into their inaugural U.S. tour when they played a gig at the tiny Chicago club Cabaret Metro. It was June 30th, 1993, and their debut LP Pablo Honey had been on shelves for four months, but buzz was rapidly picking up since MTV and rock radio were beginning to embrace “Creep.” That very week it rose from Number 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 up to Number 76. In late September, it would peak at Number 34. Amazingly, it remains their biggest hit to this day.
A camera crew from the Chicago-based music program JBTV was at Cabaret Metro to shoot the Radiohead show, and three songs in they captured the group playing the title track to The Bends nearly two years before it came out. “This is a song about knowing who your friends are,” said Thom Yorke, sporting a black and white striped shirt and a most unfortunate Kurt Cobain-style haircut. “This is called ‘The Bends.’” Much of the crowd probably didn’t know a single Radiohead song besides “Creep,” but that didn’t stop them from moshing throughout the entire thing.
“The Bends” was a part of Radiohead’s live repertoire all the way through the final leg of the In Rainbows tour in 2009, but it hasn’t been played since their Los Angeles benefit concert for Haiti in January 2010. On the 2012 Kings of Limb tour, they abandoned most of their pre-Ok Computer repertoire besides the occasional rendition of “Planet Telex” or “Street Spirit (Fade Out).”
They haven’t played a show in nearly four years, so when the A Moon Shaped Pool tour begins on May 20th in Amsterdam nobody really knows what to expect. It does seem like they will be joined once again by Portishead drummer Clive Deamer, but little else is known. They might ignore their entire 1990s catalog, or the show might open each show with a complete performance of Pablo Honey. Well, that’s not going to happen. But anything else seems possible. Hopefully “The Bends” will make at least one appearance.