Radiohead rehearsed 120 tracks for live shows

Jonny Greenwood
Jonny Greenwood (Image credit: Getty)

Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood says the band initially rehearsed 120 tracks for their most recent tour.

The latest run of shows get underway tonight (June 17) – and although they managed to whittle that number down to a more manageable size, Greenwood says they had to aim high as their set contains a total of 24 tracks.

He tells the BBC: “We started with 120. It’s crazy. I mean, it’s just every song we’ve done. And then we gave up and realised that was stupid and got it down to about 60 or 70, and we played 24 songs a night. So there’s a lot to choose from.”

He reports the reason for focusing on such a large number was to keep the live set “fresh and interesting” and adds: “It drives our crew crazy, as you might imagine, because they don’t know what to do with the lights.

“But that’s okay. We’ve always been like that. We’ve always decided the setlist just before we play.”

The band’s latest album A Moon Shaped Pool features arrangements by the London Contemporary Orchestra, and Greenwood says incorporating strings into the tracks was a “fun” endeavour.

He continues: “Songs like Burn The Witch which, very rarely for us, we managed to get strings on near the beginning. We left it unfinished on purpose and left lots of room for the strings and we never do that usually. Usually the strings are the icing on top.

“At the end of Daydreaming I got the cellos to all tune their bottom strings down about a fifth of an octave but then still try to play the music. So you can hear them struggling to stay in tune and you have the low growl sound.

“You want to use strings in a way that isn’t just pastiche and that can be hard to avoid. That was fun, trying to square that circle.”

The previously issued promos Daydreaming and Burn The Witch.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent more than 30 years in newspapers and magazines as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. After initially joining our news desk in the summer of 2014, he moved to the e-commerce team full-time in 2020. He maintains Louder’s buyer’s guides, scouts out the best deals for music fans and reviews headphones, speakers, books and more. He's written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog and has previous written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to video games, travel and whisky. Scott grew up listening to rock and prog, cutting his teeth on bands such as Marillion and Magnum before his focus shifted to alternative and post-punk in the late 80s. His favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Ned's Atomic Dustbin and Drab Majesty, but he also still has a deep love of Rush.