Gary Flockhart: The expected becomes the unexpected

Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs at the Zenith concert hall  in Paris.  Picture: Getty Images
Thom Yorke of Radiohead performs at the Zenith concert hall in Paris. Picture: Getty Images
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“There is no artistic reason to do that,” he opined. “It’s elitism – you can’t do that.”

Plenty of bands, though, have grown tired of a signature hit, one of the most famous examples being the mighty Radiohead, who, until the other night, had not played breakout single Creep for seven years.

The reason? Thom Yorke hates it, previously referring to it as “crap”.

The Oxford band are not alone in refusing to play their best-known song – there are dozens of examples.

Led Zeppelin, for one, famously can’t stomach Stairway To Heaven, with Robert Plant once saying he’d “break out in hives if I had to sing that song in every show”. The Who’s Pete Townsend is another, referring to Pinball Wizard as “awful” and “the most clumsy piece of writing I’ve ever done”. Madonna, meanwhile, reckons it would take “like, $30 million or something” for her to burst into Like A Virgin ever again, and Liam Gallagher says “every time I have to sing Wonderwall I want to gag”.

Personally, I think it’s entirely up to the band what they choose to play at their gigs – and it’s never bothered me when I don’t hear a particular song.

In an age where radio stations play the same 20 songs on a loop, is it not nice to go out to a gig and not know exactly what’s coming?

That must have been what it felt like in Paris on Monday night when Radiohead played Creep.

“This is for the funny guy shouting for Creep at the back – if only to shock you”, said Yorke before launching into the rarely-performed fan-favourite.

You see, that’s the way to do it. It was an “I was there” moment for all in attendance. But it wouldn’t have felt that way if the band had the same nailed-down setlist night after night, now would it?