Radiohead’s decision to play a scheduled concert in Israel, despite outside political pressure from fellow artists like Roger Waters, director Ken Loach, and others who side with the Boycott, Divest, Sanction (or BDS) movement against the country, came to a head last night when the show went on — and on, and on, and on. According to reports from the BBC, last night’s set was the band’s longest show in over a decade. Playing twenty-seven songs and two encores at Tel Aviv’s Yarkon Park, it certainly seems they were trying prove a point.
Leading up to the show, people like Thurston Moore, TV On The Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, and Waters even signed a petition and wrote an open letter voicing their support for Palestine and asking the band not to play in the country.
“It’s deeply disrespectful to assume that we’re either being misinformed or that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves,” Yorke told Rolling Stone of the public comments being made about the band’s decision. “I thought it was patronizing in the extreme. It’s offensive… There’s an awful lot of people who don’t agree with the BDS movement, including us. I don’t agree with the cultural ban at all, along with J.K. Rowling, Noam Chomsky and a long list of others.”
In the end, the band played the show despite the pressure from critics — perhaps some public support from Michael Stipe helped bolster their spirits — and prior to the show, Yorke’s best defense was probably distilled in a comparison to playing concerts in America under Trump.
“A lot of stuff was said about this,” Thom Yorke said, briefly addressing the controversy last night before doing “Karma Police,” a fitting rebuttal to the backlash, honestly. “But in the end, we played some music.” Watch them do that song in Israel, to a completely ecstatic crowd, above. Listening to the lyrics, it’s a chilling reminder that this band has been predicting the kind of surveillance that technology would incite in society for over twenty years now.