Forward Thinking: In rainbow dreams

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Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Photo / NZ Herald
Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Photo / NZ Herald

One of my dreams came true on Monday.

We'd heard rumours a while ago, after eccentric Kiwi musician Connan Mockasin (currently based in Paris, working with the likes of Charlotte Gainsbourg) tweeted about bringing Radiohead back to New Zealand with him when he returns later this year. But one doesn't like to get one's hopes up too high on the basis of an off-the-cuff tweet, even though Connan's not the sort to joke about these things.

Turns out he was telling the truth though. One of the most loved and lauded bands on the planet are actually coming, for the first time since their 1998 tour - Radiohead will be returning to Auckland in November, with Connan opening for them. I actually whooped when I heard.

I was only very vaguely aware of who Radiohead were in 1998 (being a 13-year-old and all), so I missed seeing them when they played in Auckland. But by 17, an older friend had introduced me to the wonders of OK Computer, and the distinctly more experimental Kid A and Amnesiac, with their weird jazz and classical and electronic influences. It was like nothing I'd come across before.

Who knew that my geeky interests in avant-garde music like Messiaen could actually be somehow blended into the world of popular music. It was a revelation confirmed when one of my first-year university tutors began deconstructing the genius of some Radiohead harmonic progressions in a lecture one day.

The more I delved into their music and videos, the more I found to like. The subtleties, nuances and emotional rollercoasters. Boy, did I want to see them live!

And instead of being one of those bands who slowly start to disappoint you as you get older and more discerning (or so I tell myself), all Radiohead have ever done for me is up the ante.

2007's In Rainbows was not only a musical masterpiece, but turned on its head the notion of how you turned music into money.

Then, in January 2009, Neil Finn brought guitarist Ed O'Brien and drummer Phil Selway down to New Zealand for the Seven Worlds Collide project. I managed to talk my way into helping out, driving musicians around, making coffees and so on as they recorded at Roundhead Studios. Chatting in the kitchen to the very tall, dark, and handsome Mr O'Brien about good day trips to do round the Hauraki Gulf was a surreal experience, but I thought, if I could get them to fall in love with our beautiful city, maybe they would tour here again? I'd heard about the record label reps who'd taken the band swimming on the west coast in 1998, so I knew they were probably susceptible to Auckland's charms. Plus the release of their eighth album, The King of Limbs, last year seemed like it could be reason enough for an Antipodean adventure.

But the longer I waited, the less likely it seemed they would come back - after all Yorke is pretty conscious of their carbon footprint, and New Zealand is a long way from Britain. So I don't know what changed Yorke's mind, or how Connan convinced Radiohead to find room for us on their itinerary, but it seems that 2012 might be the year dreams come true.

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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