Here we feature photos from the Oxford Mail archive from the early noughties when Radiohead played South Park and Michael Jackson visited the Oxford Union.

In 2003, there were protests in the city against the Iraq War.

It's hard to believe that back in July 2001 an estimated 40,000 fans packed into South Park to see local boys Radiohead perform a memorable homecoming set.

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The band, who met at Abingdon School in the mid-80s and went on to make bestselling albums including The Bends and OK Computer, were keen to play in their back yard.

Oxford Mail:

Following negotiations with the city council, it was agreed they could play South Park and preparations were made for the gig on July 7.

The support on the bill was an eclectic mix - Supergrass, Beck, jazz trumpeter Humphrey Lyttleton and The Rock of Travolta.

The Oxford Mail broke the news of the concert in February of that year when a local government reporter spotted in council documents that Radiohead planned to pay the city council for the hire of the park.

Oxford Mail:

Promoters pledged to pay the council £25,000 for the day and the figure showed up in the council accounts.

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After reporters lobbied the newsdesk that the concert was actually a big deal the story duly made the front page.

Councillor Jim Campbell, who was the chairman of the leisure services committee at the time, said: “The band wants to have an Oxford concert and have committed themselves to a date in July.

"This would be great for Oxford, and we are very keen on the idea, subject to certain conditions, particularly in terms of making sure local residents are not badly affected.

“Radiohead would pay for the cost of hiring the park, so in a sense, they would be helping out their home town. This is not yet signed and sealed, but it is very close to being delivered.”

Excitement grew when ticket sales were announced and there were queues outside the Zodiac nightclub on Cowley Road, now the 02 Academy Oxford, when they went on sale.

Oxford Mail:

The capacity for the concert was supposed to be 35,000 but attendance may have been closer to 40,000.

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Radiohead performed a storming two-hour set although at one point singer Thom Yorke confessed to being a little nervous.

Our gig reviewer Nigel Hanson wrote: "After the mood had been masterfully subdued by a so-real acoustic blues set from genius American support act Beck, Yorke led his Oxford band onto its mega-volt homecoming altar and blew away the faithful in a galaxy of white light."

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This story was written by Andy Ffrench, he joined the team more than 20 years ago and now covers community news across Oxfordshire.

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