Radiohead returned to Toronto to perform there for the first time since a fatal stage collapse in 2012. Drum tech Scott Johnson, 33, was crushed to death in the incident and three others sustained non-fatal injuries, as reported then by The Star. The show that night at Downsview Park was immediately canceled just hours before its expected start time—meaning the last concert Radiohead played in Toronto up until last night was nearly a decade ago in Aug. 2008.
This time, Radiohead played Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena—where the band will be heading back to tonight for a second performance (the show is sold-out). At last night’s concert, frontman Thom Yorke expressed his anger at those not taking responsibility for the tragedy:
“Six years ago we did a show in, we wanted to do a show in Toronto,” Yorke said. “The stage collapsed killing one of our colleagues and our friends. The people who should be held accountable are still not being held accountable. The silence is fucking deafening.”
Yorke then stood back from the mic for a moment of silence in Johnson’s memory. A few members of the crowd, however, disrupted the solemnness of the occasion by yelling and cheering. Other fans, aggravated by the disrespect, called out the disrupters. “It’s a moment of silence, shut up,” one said.
In an interview prior to the show with CBC, drummer Philip Selway shared how they were aware of how emotionally taxing the show would be on the band and crew:
“It’s an incredibly loaded show for us to come back and play,” Selway said. “And it’s something that we’ve not felt able to do for, until now. There’s still so much that’s unresolved around the accident, still a lot of very raw feelings about Scott and that Scott isn’t here with us.”
The lack of accountability and what is still unresolved in relation to the accident, to which Yorke and Selway refer, is the court case regarding the accident, which ended last year in a mistrial. There were 10 charges, reduced from the original 13, brought against the show’s promoter Live Nation, the engineer who designed the stage, Domenic Cugliari, and Optex Staging under provincial health and safety laws. As reported by The Star, after Justice Shaun Nakatsuru was appointed to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice before the trial’s close he lost jurisdiction over the case. The new trial was thrown out by the next judge appointed to it, Ann Nelson, based on “unreasonable delays” in the proceedings, so, even six years after the accident, no one has been held accountable for Johnson’s death.
The band shared this message on Instagram:
Scott Johnson’s family is now leading an inquest into his death to officially bring to light the structural errors that ultimately resulted in fatality in order to prevent a similar occurrence from happening again. This too is the goal of Radiohead, and Selway told CBC they want to what’s best for Johnson and his family.
Although Johnson’s absence was felt heavily in the arena last night, the show was also a celebration of his life done how Radiohead knows best—through music.
Watch a recording of the moment of silence for Scott Johnson at Radiohead’s show last night below. Find the dedicated cover of “Knives Out” The Flaming Lips performed in 2012 the night of Radiohead’s stage collapse further down: