Frank Turner on Radiohead: 'Just F--king Play 'Creep,' It's Petty Not to'

Folk rocker reminds band that they're 'entertainers.'

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Frank Turner has spoken out about the way Radiohead play live, urging the band to play their breakthrough hit "Creep" because it's "petty" not to.

Speaking to Gigwise backstage at this year's Live at Leeds festival, Turner shared his opinions on legacy acts and bands playing their hits or albums in full at shows. He gave a nod to Iron Maiden for remaining active artists rather being "a cabaret," but slammed Radiohead for so rarely playing their biggest hit "Creep."

"I'm a giant Iron Maiden fan, but they're very f--king adamant that they aren't a cabaret act, they've got new albums so go f--k yourself," said Turner. "I really respect that and think it's a bold move, but at the same time, I do want to hear 'The Trooper' and don't really care about what's on their last album."

He continued: "What we do, is we're entertainers, at the end of the day. It's like the whole Radiohead not playing 'Creep' thing. You are entertainers because you've charged people £40 to be here, and it's not going to kill you to take three minutes out of your setlist to play the one song that everyone wants to hear. Just f--king play it. You'll make everybody's night.

"There's something kind of petty about not playing it to me. The world is full of bands that wish they had one song that everyone wanted to hear, you've got one, enjoy it."

87 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I actually tend to agree with him here. I don't mind bands dropping a song like that for a tour or so but don't let go of it completely.Green day are great at this, one hour of new stuff, an hour of old stuff. Perfect.
    I agree with him too. I'd be pretty annoyed if Metallica (when I saw em) just did Death Magnetic when they've got an archive of awesome sat around. They started with Almost Like Your Life, The End of The Line, then straight into Ride the Lightning. Excellent. (Sheffield Arena, Feb 2009)
    I agree with him too. Foo Fighters as a common example, they must all be so fed up of playing Everlong show after show pretty much since 1997, but they know that half the crowd are just waiting to hear it.
    They've had tons of fun changing it up though. From the Skin and Bones rendition to the half acoustic/half rock rendition to my favorite version of the song from 1999: Foo Fighters - Everlong (Acoustic - 2 Meter Sessions 1999)
    They've always found ways to make it fun for them.
    Which is what Radiohead should do really. They're inventive enough to think of a new way to play Creep, and I severely doubt that many people would pay to go to a concert JUST to hear that song...
    Slash hates playing Sweet Child O' Mine, yet knows people want to see it when they see him.
    creep got a break in late 90s and for the king of limbs tour. they might play it on the new tour
    I prefer thier newer albums than Pablo Honey. For me their the best albums are OK Computer and In Rainbows.
    I don't mind if they don't play Creep live. That's one of my least favorite Radiohead songs. Listening to something from Amnesiac or Hail to the Thief suits me much better. That being said, what makes you think you have a say in what any band but yours should play? Music is about expressing ourselves, and if they don't feel like playing it, then so be it. Playing forced music is painful. Now fight me, Turner.
    I have a say in what they play when I'm paying them to play for me. At a hundred a ticket they better play Paranoid Android! If the band you like doesn't play the songs you like, you wont see them again. Imagine if Pink Floyd had a reunion and tickets were $279, then you get to the show only to find out they're playing 'The Final Cut' in it's entirety... People would riot.
    Its like forcing Kurt Cobain to play Smells like teen spirit.
    A few contradicting statements in that interview there methinks... So its OK for Iron Maiden to decide not to play old songs, but Radiohead get stick for it? And how can he be a giant Maiden fan, but not care about whats on their new album? Also, who the hell's a Frank Turner anyway??
    Frank Turner probably needs a big hit. Then he can comment on it. I notice he was in a band when he was young and is now solo - interestingly I bet he probably doesn't play his band songs as he's gone folk-rock now. It's not like Radiohead promise to play 'Creep' then don't to **** everyone off. They have said for years they don't really feel like it means anything to them anymore. It's not entirely shocking that a middle-aged rockstar might not entirely feel the same way as a messed up kid when he wrote something.
    YES exactly my thoughts. I have seen both Radiohead and Iron Maiden live in recent years. Both put on killer shows, but I certainly didn't find that Radiohead was avoiding older, more popular songs any more than Maiden was. The only 80s/Dickenson era they played was Number of the Beast and Hallowed Be Thy Name. (They did a couple Paul DiAnno songs as well) Both bands have pretty huge catalogs at this point in their careers; there really is no way to not do SOMEONES favorite song.
    Yeah. I saw Maiden a few years back and the only 3 songs they played that weren't from 2000+ were The Number of the Beast, Hallowed Be Thy Name, and Running Free. I still was pleased with the setlist. The tour was for the new album and they were supporting it with recent tracks. If I didn't want to hear the new stuff I wouldn't have bought a ticket in support of their latest material. Besides, Iron Maiden does enough "legacy" shows as it is. Let them enjoy their performances.
    Because there's no such thing as rock stars There's just people who play music And some of them are just like us And some of them are dicks ~Try This At Home from Frank Turner.
    Creep is not only poor when compared to almost anything on their later albums, it also doesn't fit with them. Who'd really like to hear that pseudo-catchy piece of post-grunge crap in between some of the best alternative rock ever?
    Who the **** is Frank Turner?
    Dear Frank Turner, First off, try writing a song that is as popular as Creep, then spend a good portion of your career having people request that song over and over and over and over and over and it becomes the only thing people know about you even though it has been nearly twenty years since it was written, and you have grown and changed and evolved into other emotions, other songs. Yes, it's a good song, and yes I do agree it should be played a bit more, but they, and you, are entertainers, not request machines who just play the popular stuff (See Pearl Jam who play whatever they want and change things from show to show). They have other tunes as well. So there, no it may not be hard to take 3 minutes to play out a song, but the fact that you point out that song instead of, say - High and Dry or My Iron Lung, shows what you care about, and that's hearing that song. Maybe they don't want to play it, I know I get tired of hearing all the time and that's with everything.
    The reality is...they put on a killer show every time, no matter what songs are being played...they do a pretty good job of playing their older stuff with the exception of Pablo Honey, which besides Creep is easily their worst album... (I think they played 4 or 5 off of OK computer and 2 off the Bends when I saw them last). I completely disagree with the guy. I think Radiohead does an excellent job of playing songs across their entire discography while still placing an emphasis on the new stuff and constantly trying to grow as an artist.
    Creep? Song everyone wants to hear? I don't even know who Frank Turner is but he doesn't sound like he knows much about the band he is criticising. Fitting a post-grunge track into a setlist of experimental art rock/electronic tracks would be ridiculous and wouldnt work whatsoever
    That's exactly what I was thinking. Considering Radiohead has spent the past 20+ years evolving their craft, I can't imagine a Radiohead fan would go to a show and leave disappointed if they didn't hear Creep. It's still a good song, but I think the band (definitely) and the fans are content with leaving it in the 90's where it belongs.
    Um what?? I'm pretty sure most Radiohead fans would hate "Creep" being played live. Radiohead isn't a 'hit' band. It's a bad song (musically as well as lyrically) on by far their worst album and most people going to their concerts would much rather them play their exceptional material (aka OKC onwards), not the ordinary stuff (pablo honey).
    Creep is one of Radiohead's earliest radio hits. If the only people who attended a Radiohead concert were their so-called 'true' fans on any given stop, they'd be playing in venues half or a quarter of the size of the ones they do. OKC may be what blows people's minds as a musical experience, but Creep is what puts butts in seats. It's why Aerosmith still has to play "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" every tour. It's not because it's their best song, or even a particularly exceptional song. It's because it was in Armageddon and people both want to and expect to hear it.
    That's just not true in my experience. The fans who go to their concerts nowadays don't expect Creep to be played, they don't care for it. You are underestimating the number of people who go for the music quality. They don't play the biggest venues, but the venues they do play are sold out in a matter of minutes, and those people dying to see them live definitely don't care for Creep. The Aerosmith comparison is silly because they are nothing alike. One band constantly reinvents themselves and their materials keeping everything fresh, while another rehashes a tried and trusted formula. Aerosmith wouldn't even be able to sell out venues if they dropped their 'hits' from the setlist, they need them to stay relevant.
    I may be underestimating the number of people who go for music quality, but I think you're overestimating the criteria which people judge an event before paying money to go to it. I, for example, as someone who is admittedly not a huge Radiohead fan, would probably still pay to go see them if the tickets were reasonably cheap. And I would expect to hear Creep. Because it's the song by Radiohead. It was in Rock Band. It's been on the radio for twenty years. I would be disappointed if I didn't hear it.
    That's the thing, their tickets are pretty expensive actually, and as I said before they sell out incredibly fast.. So you wouldn't be able to get your hands on a ticket unless you're a big fan (or you like to throw money away )
    I could name 2 albums worth of other material I would rather hear over Creep at a RH show.
    I actually thought it was Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood who hated the song and did his best to sabotage it during recording with the chuggy riff before the chorus, although ironically doing that made it even more popular!
    Casual music fans and non-die hard Radiohead fans dont really see them live. They sell out arenas to die hard Radiohead fans and serious music fans and of the shows I've seen them play I have never heard anyone complain that they didnt play anything off the first 2 albums. They stick to songs off their best albums (In Rainbows, Hail to the Thief, OK Computer, Kid A, Amnesiac, King of Limbs), I'm not saying the Bends and Pablo Honey are crap, in fact the opposite, they are great albums but they don't compare to the albums they've made since then (christ, 20 years ago).
    Bands don't us anything. If they want to perform something they can perform it. If they don't, they don't have to. If we are unsatisfied with the setlist then we just don't attend the shows. It's really simple. Yorke hates that song and I don't blame him for not playing it. Why perform something you despise playing?
    The real question is, why write something you despise?
    Plenty of musicians have written songs in the past that they now despise. Ritchie Blackmore, for example, hates almost everything he put out with Deep Purple and Rainbow nowadays. Some artists change the way they make music and the way they look at music during their careers, and Radiohead are definitely an example. Not everyone is like AC/DC. That'd be an explanation, I guess.
    he played smoke on the water with blackmore's night although not too much
    He played quite a few of his old stuff in Blackmore's Night. Child in Time, Soldier of Fortune, Temple of the King, Street of Dreams...
    He doesn't despise the song itself, just how a lot of people only go to concerts for that song and don't care about the others.
    Well it ****ing happens. I went to see RHCP a while ago and all I was hearing after the concert was "BOOHOOO NO OTHERSIDEEEE GAAAAAH MOM". They played a killer set, the old/new song ratio was solid, they gave an amazing performance and still all these guys were bitching for one song. That's how you distinguish music fans from *******s who want to hashtag themselves so that rock chick they like can see they're cool. Fuck 'em.
    I don't think people who do that are posers 100% of the time that only want to attach themselves to the image of the band, though... Sometimes it is genuinely just some kid who only had enough money to buy Californication and wants to hear the song that got them hooked on the band. I don't think that's so wrong.. If anything, I think it's a bit hipster to determine where real "music fans" begin and where being a false fan ends.
    Of course I'm not saying everyone who likes the most popular songs is a poser and "not a real fan", but if someone EXPECTS them to play a song on every single setlist on every single tour because it's "their hit", then sorry, but it's just plain pathetic. Especially that some bands actually DO that, and it creates a stupid vicious circle that the "popular" songs are played to death and it just can make fans wonder if there's an actual point seeing them live again (as you know what you're going to get), and the rest of the catalogue falls into even deeper obscurity, and it's often entirely undeserved. I don't expect everyone to be like me, but I find myself preferring the "unpopular" songs over "hits" on a regular basis in case of many bands, and I highly doubt that EVERYONE just likes the "hits", so the setlists should be as varied as possible to actually appeal to a variety of fans, and not just the people who barely know more than the most popular album.
    Thank you Dick, this is my thoughts exactly. I'm completely sick of people who want bands to just play the same shit live over and over again, even if they have a huge, consistent discography of good albums. I don't see why a "hit" song should have any more priority in a band's setlist over other, good tracks, bands should write setlists based on variety and good flow, not on "popularity". If you're going to see a band for one song, go and look at YouTube recordings, you can have in on repeat for 24h if you like, and let real fans who actually like the band for their DISCOGRAPHY enjoy a varied setlist.
    Plus RHCP have so many hit songs it'd be hard for them to play all of them in one show
    I'm glad you feel special, because you know all their shit. Too bad you're not. Stop acting like a douche.
    how was that comment in any way douchy, what hes sayin is actually listen to the bands albums not just there hits. imo half the time the hits arent even the best songs, just look at Thin Lizzy, anyone who thinks boys are back in town is the best song clearly hasnt heard anything else by them.
    So people, who have only heard their hits on the radio, aren't allowed to go to their concerts, to listen to that one song and maybe get acquainted with some new material? Of course a band's hits aren't their best songs, ****ing duh. I wasn't even implying they were.
    i saw rush live last year and they are great live and i could listen to them play instrumentals the whole time because they are so talented but they play 9 songs off of their new album. you can play the new stuff and the deep cuts, but you gotta play the biggest hits for everyone. make the fans happy right?
    So it's not the song he hates, but its fans? That makes him much less of a douche. On the flip side, anyone who would pay current ticket prices to hear only one song is also a douche. So, to summarize, the band and its fans are all a bunch feminine hygiene products, which was pretty much my position before I read this article.
    They can write some song and love it first, but when almost all "fans" demand to play it and don't want to hear anything else that is more important for the group at the moment - of course I understand how it can be annoying for the bandmembers - and they will hate this song. By the way, if you don't know, there is an another reason - the song "Creep" was stolen from the 1970's band The Hollies (track "The Air That I Breathe"). The Hollies sued Radiohead and won, and to this day Radiohead must pay royalties to The Hollies bandmembers for every "Creep" playing.
    Agreed, it's the same deal with Kings of Leon, they're quite pissed off that people only turn up for Sex on Fire and nothing else.
    because you're supposed to evolve, and your music with you. He might have liked it when he wrote it as a teenager, doesn't mean he should like it his whole life.
    big muff pedal
    They (Thom, Jonny, at least) like the song, they just hate the way people come to their concerts based off of knowing that ONE song and don't show any interest beyond that. You have to remember, after Creep, RH were cast-aside as one-hit wonders; they had to release The Bends to prove otherwise.
    I used to quite like Frank Turner, but now i can't stand his music or his voice. Radiohead are free to play what they want, I saw them at Reading a few years back, and thought their set list was a perfect mix of old and new.
    He's right
    So bands must play always the same setlist making any new album tour pointless because there will be no new album songs played? Who the f*** is this guy?
    It wouldn't be so bad if Radiohead were still writing music anyone other than diehard fans want to hear. Everything since OK Computer has been hard listening, they for me became very indulgent and a lost the magic I loved with the first 3 albums.If I see a band live I want to hear the songs that made me like them in the first place, so I agree with this article.
    A band is not obligated to please anyone but themselves, especially a band that's made a career on the very fact that they have always experimented with their sound. If you don't like their new albums, don't buy them, and bands actively trying to please their fans always end up with a disaster.
    Think about how annoying that would be for the band. They skipped the whole process of being a small, struggling band and became huge right when Creep came out. Unfortunately, Pablo Honey isn't some of their best work, so all the people cared about was Creep. They became commonly known as "That band that plays that Creep song." So Thom has tried to reinvent the band by not playing that song. Every show, tons of people still yell "play Creeeeep!!!!" Even at his Atoms for Peace shows, people still yell at him to play Creep. That hit will haunt Thom for the rest of his life.
    They have so much better songs. And originals too.
    My opinion on this whole matter of what songs to play (to play hits or no hits) is this. If people are coming for just that one big hit song, they are not necessarily coming for the band, themselves, are they? Something like that could hinder the band's enthusiasm a bit since I'm sure they really want to play the songs they want to play which may not be hits. I always have the assumption that fans go to concerts and to be mesmerize at the band and their playing and their production values and that the fans knows a decent amount of the band's catalog prior to going rather than just the big hit songs. In regards to the topic, I think Radiohead has their rights to not play Creep as long they know how to win the crowd with their show as a whole. If the fans leave feeling disappointed that Creep was not played, but the show as a whole really good, critically acclaim reviews and all, that's the fans' problem, not the band.
    They have so much better songs. And originals too.
    Honestly I'm fine if they don't play it. Radiohead have some of the best setlist variations I've seen in a live band. They might ditch out a song they play almost every night and then suddenly pull out some old B-Side. And even after so many albums they still manage to have a healthy mix across the career. And really there's so many other songs I'd love to have them bring back then Creep. I'm more bothered that they haven't played "Where I End..." in a while.
    Sorry, man, but Radiohead don't "wish they had one song that everyone wanted to hear." They've already written numerous ALBUMS that everyone wants to hear. The idea that they should continually beat the same 3 minutes of music into the ground for several decades just to pander to the newbies in their audience (when the majority of their fanbase still give quite a large **** about their new albums) is preposterous. If I went to a Radiohead show and all that I got was a setlist of tired renditions of their most marketable songs I'd feel pretty damn cheated. I'd much rather hear the songs that Radiohead think they can make an inspiring performance with. Too many great bands have a catalogue of amazing songs that they never play live because they're too busy playing it safe and rehashing the hits over and over and over...let's not gang up on the bands who have done better things with themselves. This is all coming from someone whose not even a huge Radiohead fan. Judging by this nugget of his musical outlook, I'd say there's a reason I'd never heard of Frank Turner before today.
    I think that by now radiohead has proven that they don't rely on creep to sell out shows. They sell out Ina matter of hours. The 'average' listener is not gonna care enough to be in the computer waiting for a chance to buy tickets.
    Well, I guess that Radiohead's been a breakthrough because they didn't do what they were expected to, right?
    I like Creep, in fact, I think Pablo Honey is actually quite an underrated album, but it really doesn't bother me that they don't play it. They have a great repertoire to draw a setlist from, and they really do show quite some diversity in their shows. I would like to hear stuff like Blow Out or You rather than Creep.
    Well, having actually listened thru their whole cataloque over and over, I really don't mind them playing something else for that 3 minutes of Creep. And they do play Creep live, just not as a standard setlist track. [u]Radiohead - Creep Live - Reading festival 2009 [HQ]
    He's right on this one. How awful would be to go see Radiohead and yet you don't get to hear Creep. One of the songs people grow up listening to.(remembering every word of it)
    Didn't Radiohead play Creep pretty much every night on their In Rainbows tour? I don't know about the king of limbs tour but they certainly play Creep often enough.
    It's just that Tom York is a little piece of shit... He's so obsessed with "being anti music industry" that he forgets what he has to do... There's nothnig good in Radiohead since OK Computer and I don't talk of Atom for peace... Don't play your number 1 hit is very disresoectful to your crowd, especially if you are playing at a festival.
    actually Creep is not their best song even not their top 10 songs just a most to be heard.. so as a fan i'd rather to hear some of their non-good stuff since Ok computer & ... as you said and its not very disresoectful too and beside that Radiohead is totally free to arrange their setlist
    Wouldn't it be great if radiohead just went back to being a rock band?
    Its a job that these idiots are lucky to even have. Do you think I like everything I do during the workday? No. They need to play the songs people come to hear because they are entertainers. If they want to play whatever they want then they can lower the outrageous costs to get in. Until then me and everyone like me will continue to complain. Why do rockstar fanboys defend every action these overpaid divas make? Radiohead needs to realize that half of the people in attendance probably came to know of them because of Creep. You people are such idiots, "that hit will haunt him for his life" well **** I wish I could be lucky enough to have people want to hear my song. Ungrateful rockstar ****s constantly defended by the ass kissing pion masses.
    They are not entertainers, they are MUSICIANS firstly who write music because they love it, not to satisfy muppets like you. Believe me when I tell you that Creep is the LAST song people wanna hear at Radiohead concerts. To get a Radiohead ticket you need to either buy it as soon as they are released, like the same hour because they sell out pretty damn fast, or you'll have to buy it from a fan for an even more expensive price. Naturally the people who only know them as the 'Creep' band won't overpay, and definitely won't know the exact time the tickets are released. This leads to the fact that the fans who buy their tickets mostly know the band through and through and not only appreciate what Radiohead is about but want to see them perform their best material, aka NOT pablo honey.
    Why do they need to play the song as if it's a right of the audience? Some people might get disappointed. I was disappointed I didn't get Nude or Paranoid when I saw them (still loved the gig though). If you didn't like the gig you can choose to not go back. If people seriously want to spend $80 or more just to hear 5 minutes of one song live and not care about the rest of the concert which has always been critically acclaimed that's their stupidity.
    I don't listen to the radio much but with the rare exception of Fake Plastic Trees, Creep is the only f***ing Radiohead song ever played. Which is irritating as hell, of course. I have rather enjoyed hearing all the other songs that I do enjoy the three times I've seen them.
    Danzig Always Plays Mother... NIN always plays head like a hole.. Bauhaus when they are touring together always plays Bela Lugosi is dead... Etc Etc.. Radiohead not playing creep never really bothers me because they have so many other hits.
    What it all boils down to is, you can't please everyone. You can't realistically expect a band to play every song that every paying customer wants to hear. The sets would be stupidly long. At the same time its understandable if people aren't happy they haven't heard a band play their signature track. Lets be fair, if you went to see Maiden you'd expect 'Run to the Hills', Motorhead you'd expect to hear 'Ace of Spades', AC/DC 'Highway to Hell' ... the list goes on. But you have to realise also that not everybody who goes to a concert is a die-hard fan of the band they're seeing who knows the lyrics to every niche album track, bootleg or unreleased song. And we shouldn't chastise these people, it doesn't make you any more or less of a person to be more interested in a particular band than anyone else. I've seen a few bands where I wish they had played certain songs in lieu of others, its just one of those things. Even with Metallica's recent efforts to allow fans to choose their set-list, there will still be the unhappy few who didn't get their say-so.
    I guess that the reason for Radiohead not playing Creep is the fact that Thom didn't make the high note during Reading '09 which was the last time they performed Creep live.
    I saw Metallica and all they played was the St anger album start to finish. JK. It's not uncommon for a band to not want to play some of thier older songs.
    Ok, so most likely a majority of the fans attending are diehard. But just play the song, you may say it's "sh*t" but if they played it live you know you'd love it.