Touring for an album released 4 years ago would be impossible for most artists. However, unlike most, Thom Yorke flexes, doesn’t really give a fuck, and pulls it off. It also helps to be one of the most famous musicians in the world. As I made my way to go see Thomas Edward Yorke at the Orpheum on Wednesday night, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’ve read and heard mixed reviews about his solo show, but as a Radiohead and Yorke fan — I’ve seen Radiohead several times and they are magnificent — I needed to see for myself. Since Yorke’s solo work is a little different than the Radiohead discography being more electronic and even nebulous at times — yes, even more so than Radiohead — I was expecting a more subdued concert experience. But I was pleasantly surprised by what I actually encountered.
Snug in my jacket, I made my way to the Orpheum theater box office to pick up my tickets, and I caught a glimpse of guitarist Josh Klinghoffer (of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers) and saw it as a possible sign of things to come. Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good. Since there was a little mix up with the photography pass for my esteemed colleague Carmen “Soul Sister” Flores, I ended up missing the opening act. Not that I was too disappointed — with all due respect to Oliver Coates — since I was really there for the dancing noodle himself, Thom Yorke.
Thom Yorke — not one to talk or do much banter — kicks off his set with “Interference” from his latest solo effort Tomorrows Modern Boxes and blesses us with songs from all over his solo discography and even from Atoms For Peace. Nigel Goodrich, Thom Yorke, and visual artist Tarik Barri coalesce sounds, rhythms, and aesthetic swirls of light and darkness into a phantasmagoric acid-trip musical journey. They take cues from the EDM world with bass busting crescendos and vicious light show attacks but balance out the intensity by placing meticulously placed mellow sections and less intense dreamy, floaty visuals. Thom Yorke and crew know exactly what they are doing.
During this musical orgy, Yorke sprinkles (so far) live-only songs which include the dance-heavy “Traffic,” the mellowish “Impossible Knots,” and the spacy “Not In The News” which have not yet been officially released. From my “extensive” Google search (as I write up this piece) it is unknown if they’re Radiohead songs he’s working on, solo material, or permanent live-only songs until he figures out what exactly to do with them.
While grooving out to the mind-altering “Twist,” I notice a guy in a red hat in the private balcony above wilding out. He seems out of place and disappears during the first encore. I see him again on stage, only to realize it was Flea from RHCP. Joey Waronker also joins on drums. They perform two songs from AMOK, “Atoms For Peace” and bass-heavy banger “Default.”
Photo by Carmen Flores — Edited by Juan Gutierrez[/caption]
After the mini Atoms For Piece reunion, Yorke does one final encore right before midnight. “Can you vote for me and shit,” says Yorke, right before he goes into his mellow piano ballad “Unmade” from the Suspiria soundtrack. The soft and cloudy tune chills everyone out after the heavy electronic fest we all just experienced. The heavenly sounding chord progression was like holy water purifying the crowd, removing the sin of hip shaking. When finished, Flea, Yorke, Godrich, and Barri leave the stage with roaring applause.
As I make my way out of the Orpheum with that special concert afterglow, I see a man selling bootleg Thom York shirts. I cop a Susperia/Thom Yorke shirt that is too large for me on the cheap and head home.
A Brain in a Bottle
Nose Grows Some
Two Feet Off the Ground
Amok (Atoms for Peace song)
Not the News
Atoms for Peace (with Flea) (and with Joey Waronker)
Default (Atoms for Peace song) (with Joey Waronker)
I like to stare at my computer. Occasionally I type words to pass the time. Those words are usually about music.