Thursday, October 8, 2009

Thom Yorke @ The Orpheum

I don't know why there are "?????" when every Radiohead fan, or fan of good music, already knew who was playing there. I have to admit that being in the know was sort of cool.

Since my friend, W (aka Cymbalista of Crime Spree in Candyland fame), is a MUCH bigger Thom Yorke / Radiohead fan, and sat MUCH closer to the stage than I did (she was in second row orchestra, practically in front of Yorke's piano), I decided that she'd be the better person to write this review. So, here are her thoughts:

Being a huge Radiohead fan I was ecstatic when I heard Thom Yorke was going to have a couple of solo shows in Los Angeles. The only other time I've heard him perform solo was when he played "Cymbal Rush" as part of Radiohead's encore at Hollywood Bowl last year. Although it was amazing, I didn't want to have too many expectation for the Orpheum gig, especially after I learned that Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers (a band that I don't particularly like) was going to be part of his "supergroup". Turned out that I was worried for nothing. It was Thom Yorke, after all, and he wasn't about to put on any mediocre shows.

Aside from Thom Yorke on vocals / guitar and Flea on bass, the band consisted of Nigel Godrich on synth, Joey Waronker on drums, and Mauro Refosco on percussion. Unfortunately, Ticketmaster only allowed two tickets for purchase at a time, so I was only able to get two B-row seats, and one separate Mezzinine seat, which HeyHeyScenester kindly took (thanks again for being such a good sport!). We were surprised to find out how close B-row was literally right in front of the stage! Due to our slightly delayed dinner at The Must, we missed the opening act, Lucky Dragons; but that only meant we got to see Thom Yorke & co. that much sooner.

The performance, in a nutshell, was mind blowing. They played mostly songs from Thom Yorke's solo album, The Eraser. It was exciting to see how an album that relied so much on electronic beats would translate to a live, more rockish setting. The rhythm section was especially amazing. Joey Waronker was flawless on the drums; he made it seem almost too easy to bang out beats that were originally programmed on a COMPUTER. Flea did not become a distraction the way many people were afraid he would. In fact, his manic headbanging worked well alongside Thom Yorke's spastic dance moves. Yorke, alternating between guitar and piano, was perhaps even more alive here, with his constant dancing and jumping around, than when he played at the Bowl last year. He really did look like he was having a lot of fun. The fact that we were so close to the stage made it even better. We could even see the waistband of his underwear (ahem, black, Calvin Klein, in case you're wondering...).

My favorites of the night are "The Clock", "Black Swan", and a new song called "Judge, Jury, & Executioner". The setlist is below:

01 "The Eraser"
02 "Analyze"
03 "The Clock
04 "Black Swan"
05 "Skip Divided"
06 "Atoms For Peace"
07 "And It Rained All Night"
08 "Harrowdown Hill"
09 "Cymbal Rush"
(Thom solo)
10 "Lotus Flower" [New alternate title: "Moon Upon A Stick"]
11 "Open The Floodgates"
12 "Supercollider"
13 "Paperbag Writer"
14 "Judge, Jury, & Executioner"
15 "The Hollow Earth"
16 "Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses"

Last random note: it was surreal to see Flea play the melodica (a musical instrument I played often when I was little) during "Skip Divided". Who knew melodicas would become trendy? (I did, of course!)

In case you want more:
Awesome photos from Stereogum
Another review from Caroline on Crack
Setlist from Echoplex show