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Radiohead's obscenely awesome 'Conan' performance

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Did anyone catch Radiohead on Late Night with Conan O’Brien last night? As I might have mentioned once or twice before, the Oxford quintet are my bar-none, all-time favorite band ever. No artist’s music has meant more to me over the years. And yet, pathetically lame person that I am, I fell asleep well before their performance aired last night. Luckily, NBC is streaming it online today (below), so I got to see them play this morning. Their performance had been pre-recorded in London — the wisely enviro-consciousband balked at the carbon-emissions cost of flying to Conan’s studio — and it was great to see them jamming comfortably in their home element instead of squashed onto a TV soundstage. They did a sweet, low-key version of In Rainbows standout “House of Cards,” complete with guitarist Ed O’Brien’s faint but crucial backing vocals, something I always look forward to in Radiohead’s live incarnation. Truly, a gorgeous performance.

But! I couldn’t help noticing something about the band’s very funny pre-song patter. Thom Yorke, in a mischievous mood, delivered a few well-chosen words on the green life — including a common British profanity used to describe President Bush, to whom he dedicated the song’s “Denial, denial” chorus. (His exact wording, which I suppose makes the clip below somewhat NSFW: “That {expletive} who walked away from the Kyoto agreement, what was his name again?”) Of course, I’m not offended in the least by such a fleeting instance of foul language directed at such a deserving target — in fact, it made me enjoy the band’s segment even more! — but I was sorta surprised, considering how cautious the FCC’s overzealous censorship has made the networks lately. Did NBC actually broadcast that word on national television? (If so, I say good for them!) Perhaps not; this YouTube clip suggests it was muted. So, at the admitted risk of making a mountain out of a very minor molehill, I’m still curious — did any live viewers notice whether NBC let that piquant phrase make it to the air? And if so, did you care?