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I’m traditionally averse to covers bands – it’s hard to really get excited when it’s not the real thing – but happy to make exceptions when my curiosity is peeked. As it was when I discovered that an unnamed tribute act was performing ‘An Evening of Radiohead’ – a band I love and who are unlikely to play live again anytime soon – with a string section in the impressive surroundings of Coventry Cathedral.

I wasn’t the only one. The show has been sold out for weeks, testament not only to Thom Yorke and Co’s enduring popularity but the word-of-mouth buzz that has developed around the nameless (part of the allure?) band that have been performing these tribute shows in cathedrals up and down the UK since last summer. The six-piece outfit, backed by the Mike Nowland String Quartet, are fronted by Christopher Buckle, creative director of Let Me In, the company producing the shows, but beyond a couple of very brief introductions, they let the music speak for itself.

And boy did it do so, with familiar hits and hidden gems from throughout the band’s 30-year career beautifully performed in what felt more like a recital than a rock concert – a move perfectly in keeping with the surroundings (there’s no mosh pit in a church) as well as my earlier argument about not getting too excited by doppelgangers.

But if the performers were subtle – at one point Buckle claimed they’re all shy – their performance was something to get excited about, not least that of the singer himself, who made a wonderful fist of interpreting Yorke’s unique vocal style without veering into naff imitation or parody. The rest of the band were equally up to the task, particularly multi-instrumentalist musical director Ewan Steady, and delivered a setlist that paid homage to everything from Street Spirit to Burn The Witch.

The latter was one of a number of tunes – including the mercurial Paranoid Android – to make the most of the string section, and while the show leant heavily on material from The Bends and OK Computer (despite omitting the likes of High And Dry and Karma Police), there were golden nuggets (Bloom, There There, All I Need, Weird Fishes) sprinkled throughout. A standing ovation at the finale was proof that the beguiling show delivered on almost every level, and the band’s pinpoint renditions had kept everything in its right place.

4 stars

Reviewed by Steve Adams at Coventry Cathedral on Saturday 27 April.

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