On August 23, 2009, in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, Radiohead swept into the ancient gothic city, and played a show for the ages at Výstaviště Holešovice Exhibition Hall. Luckily, over 50 fans had planned ahead, and shot footage from multiple angles throughout the venue using flip cameras. The footage was then painstakingly edited by a production crew, produced by Nataly, and graciously given the soundboard by the band to match the fan-filmed visuals.
The result? Shockingly moving, not at all primitive, filled with pathos, and downright modern in every way—pretty much like the band that was being filmed. Radiohead have long been innovators in not only songs, album production, thematic and conceptual ideas, electronica, the guitar as an occasional high impact prop, soaring vocals as an angelic instrument, and, of course, highly ingenious ways in releasing their work—in October 2007, they released their latest masterpiece, In Rainbows as a download, and asked fans to choose their own price. The band then released the album proper a few months later, and still garnered one of the highest-selling albums in the latter part of the decade.
And now, Radiohead has used that anti-marketing technique to once again show a new way to reach their fans without asking anything in return. Why not just let the fans sell the band? Ahhh…an old concept turned on its head here. Indeed, Live in Praha (Praha is Czech for Prague) is being released at http://radiohead-prague.nataly.fr/ in numerous formats, including DVD, HD Quicktime, YouTube, iPhone, and iPad, and since this was a film created by fans for fans, it is not being offered for sale. Yes, another free gift from Radiohead, and one is almost embarrassed NOT to pay for such a wonderful live document. The band hit upon a majestic series of moments, where their weighty and brilliant catalogue is played with formidable power by a quintet that since 1997’s OK Computer has appeared to have done no wrong—in the studio, or on the stage.
Watching this DVD/YouTube/nameyourvisualpoison, one is struck with the thought that Radiohead somehow, again, appears to be several steps in front of any other band even when, as one of their legions of great songs attests, the wolf is at the door. Well, in Prague, with the help of dedicated and visually-astute fans, and a team of editors afterwards who found the money shots, and tossed out the film that didn’t resonate, the quintet unexpectedly yields another impressive jewel for their ever-expanding crown.