10 colorful photos from the early 2000s
Here we feature photos from the Oxford Mail archives from the early 2000s when Radiohead played South Park and Michael Jackson visited the Oxford Union.
In 2003, there were demonstrations in the city against the war in Iraq.
It’s hard to believe that in July 2001 around 40,000 fans flocked to South Park to see the local boys from Radiohead perform a memorable comeback set.
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The band, who met at Abingdon School in the mid-80s and went on to make hit albums including The Bends and OK Computer, wanted to play in their backyard.
After negotiations with the city council, it was agreed that they could play in South Park and preparations were made for the concert on 7 July.
The backing on the bill was an eclectic mix – Supergrass, Beck, jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttleton and The Rock of Travolta.
The Oxford Mail broke news of the gig in February of that year when a local government reporter spotted in council papers that Radiohead planned to pay the council for renting the park.
The promoters pledged to pay the council £25,000 for the day and the figure appeared in the council’s accounts.
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After reporters pressured the press office to say the gig was actually a big deal, the story duly made headlines.
Councilor Jim Campbell, who was then chairman of the Leisure Services Committee, said: ‘The band want to have a gig in Oxford and have committed to a date in July.
“It would be great for Oxford, and we are very excited about the idea, under certain conditions, in particular to ensure that local residents are not too affected.
“Radiohead would pay the cost of renting the park, so in a sense they would be helping their hometown. It’s not signed and sealed yet, but it’s very close to being delivered.
Excitement grew when ticket sales were announced and there were queues outside Zodiac nightclub on Cowley Road, now 02 Academy Oxford, when they went on sale.
The capacity for the concert was supposed to be 35,000, but attendance could have been closer to 40,000.
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Radiohead played a searing two-hour set, although at one point vocalist Thom Yorke admitted to being a little nervous.
Our concert critic Nigel Hanson wrote: “After the mood was masterfully mastered by such a real acoustic blues set from American genius Beck, Yorke led his band from Oxford to his mega-volt homecoming altar and blown away the faithful in a galaxy of white light.”
This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team over 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.
Contact him by email: [email protected]
Follow him on Twitter @OxMailAndyF