I last saw Radiohead live in 2003 and it was the best gig I've been to; so I looked forward to last week's show in Manchester with considerable excitement. Last time the one word summation of the concert was "astonishing" (which coincidentally was exactly the same word the Guardian reviewer also used about the gig). As the band started this time, I thought this wasn't the word. This time I thought "intelligent". This might sound faint praise compared to the first show, and when I realised, it cause me to adjust my expectations for the rest of the show. But this was a mistake: as the band progressed through the track list the power of its structure was accumulatively awe-inspiring - until "These Are My Twisted Words" a track I had somehow never heard (it turns out it was a free download some years ago): this song was stunning - jaw hanging open with shivers running down your neck. At that moment the heights of the earlier gig were surpassed, with realisation that the artistic intelligence behind its construction was an order of magnitude deeper.
A supporting aspect of the overall effect was the brilliantly designed light show. The use of colour, the shifting of floating screens which sometimes created bold and stunning visual poems or, when dropped low over the band, a strange intimacy.
Though an aside to the whole experience, I have to mention that I've never seen such a self obsessed audience: I've been in football stadiums where fans have been less interested in going to the bar; it was more like watching the band from within a grazing herd. Most strange.