Despite pleas from human rights activists asking them not to perform in Israel, Radiohead played their longest show in 11 years in Tel Aviv last night. As reported by the BBC, the band played a grand total of 27 songs, including “Creep,” “Karma Police” and “Pyramid Song.”
“We came all the way here. We’re gonna play our fingers off,” Thom Yorke said to the crowd of about 47,000 towards the end of the set. The show was criticized by artists like Roger Waters, Ken Loach and Brian Eno due to Israel’s apartheid-like system it has imposed on the Palestinian people. Radiohead earned support from R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, who hoped the show would help “bring the occupation to an end and lead to a peaceful solution.”
Both Stipe and Radiohead were met with backlash from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to end Israel’s occupation of Palestine by encouraging other countries not to normalize it through support of Israel’s economy in any way. Radiohead’s massive concert was a success for Israel’s entertainment industry, which undermines BDS’ efforts.
The Waters versus Yorke beef received a fair share of media attention after Yorke publicly replied to an email sent by Waters urging the band not to play the Tel Aviv show with a less-than-kind statement, saying it was disrespectful to “assume that we’re so retarded we can’t make these decisions ourselves.” Waters struck back in a Facebook live session, saying, “I look forward to when you finish your trip to Israel, because you probably still will go—write me a letter and tell me how much good you did and how much change you managed to affect by chatting with musicians.”
Your move, Thom. We’d love to see that letter.
Listen to a Radiohead performance from the Paste Cloud below.