Radiohead’s Contentious Israel Concert Was Their Longest in Over a Decade

    Thom Yorke: "A lot of stuff was said about this, but in the end, we played some music"

    After months of controversy surrounding Radiohead’s decision to perform in Israel, the band kept their word and played in Tel Aviv. Subsequently, the British rock out delivered an incredibly expansive set. In fact, it was their longest show in eleven years. They performed a whopping 27 songs, kicking off with “Daydreaming” from their excellent 2016 album, A Moon Shaped Pool. They closed with two encores — the first featuring six songs, including “No Surprises,” “Paranoid Android,” and “Reckoner.” The second encore featured the rare, fan favorite, “Creep.”

    Aside from an exceptionally long set, this performance had received widespread attention, much of which was not positive. Artists such as Roger Waters, Brian Eno, and Thurston Moore sent an open letter to Radiohead, asking them to cancel their tour stop in Israel to protest the country’s occupation of Palestinian land. Thom Yorke responded, saying, “It’s really upsetting that artists I respect think we are not capable of making a moral decision ourselves.” More recently, Yorke also commented that the band’s decision to perform their ninth show in Israel had nothing to do with their impression of the Israeli government. He said, ““Playing in a country isn’t the same as endorsing its government. We’ve played in Israel for over 20 years through a succession of governments, some more liberal than others. As we have in America. We don’t endorse Netanyahu any more than Trump, but we still play in America.”

    Roger Waters responded, claiming that Yorke’s “whining” was “extremely unhelpful to everybody.” Michael Stripe joined the conversation, but instead of going with the critics, he defended Radiohead’s decision. Radiohead previously supported R.E.M. on a tour stop in Israel.

    During the band’s Tel Aviv performance, Yorke briefly spoke to the crowd, saying, “A lot of stuff was said about this, but in the end, we played some music.” Radiohead recently released OKNOTOK, a 20th anniversary addition of their seminal album, Ok Computer, with the unveiling of several unreleased songs, such as “I Promise.”