The Manchester Arena is packed out to resemble a gladiatorial stadium, which is rather appropriate as being just a little above five feet tall I am preparing to fight like a ninja to catch a glimpse of the band I have paid a small fortune to see. But despite the fact that all UK dates sold out within a few internet-crashing moments of suspense, the crowd are surprisingly placid and we manage to find a good spot.

Radiohead are already in full swing, having plunged into their set with a vivacity that seemed missing the last time I saw them on their In Rainbows tour in 2008. The band open with ‘Lotus Flower,’ perhaps the most accessible track from their latest album The King of Limbs, and Thom Yorke does not disappoint in his self-styled crazy fits of what might imaginatively be called dancing. Follow this with a larger-than-life rendition of ‘Airbag,’ and the crowd are in the palm of Radiohead’s legendary hand.

There is a decided focus on the latest three albums with tracks from ‘Hail to the Thief’ (‘Myxamtosis,’ ‘The Gloaming’ and ‘There There) woven between the more ethereal tracks from In Rainbows, such as ‘Reckoner’ and ‘Nude.’ But this is The King of Limbs tour, and while the fans are keen to hear those famous tracks from days of yore Radiohead push confidently into their latest material. The premature release of The King of Limbs in February 2012 got many music journos’ knickers in a twist, depriving them of the chance to gauge general responses before forming their own ‘opinions’. The album is difficult to pin down and impossible to appreciate from a single listen; each track grows both into itself and into the album as a whole.

Played live, songs such as ‘Separator’ and ‘The Daily Mail’ take on a renewed vibrancy that clearly marks the way for the direction that Radiohead are taking in their musical evolution. There is a strong electronic vibe throughout the setlist, with a heavy emphasis on reverb and percussion to jazz up older tracks such as ‘The National Anthem’ (Kid A) and ‘Paranoid Android’ (OK Computer). In fact most of the set effuses an irresistible energy that has the usually laid back Radiohead crowd dancing to abandon by the finale.

This is a band that is stretching its own limits of experimentation, boldly leading its fans into new territory and saying “wait and see”. Radiohead is in possession of an artistic licence that far exceeds the boundaries of what the world expects of one of the UK’s most influential bands of all time, which is precisely why the band will continue to retain that title.

Bee Gebhardt

A jack-ette of all trades (and arguably mistress of none), I’m an editor, law student, avid runner, travel fiend, wine-guzzler and above all, music lover. Originally from South Africa, I’m now a proud Mancunian. This city is awesome − the only thing I can complain about is the damn weather.