Thom Yorke / Tomorrow's Modern Boxes
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Thom Yorke writhes, shakes and moves when he performs on stage, like he wants to shed out of his own skin and morph into someone else altogether. Fans of all things Radiohead knew what to expect from Thom's solo production, and that is the exact opposite of a Radiohead show.
The performance had elements of a sophisticated electronic / minimalist production, but with five giant vertical LED walls behind the musicians from stage left to stage right, this was something different entirely. Minimalist indeed, with Thom accompanied by longtime collaborator and producer Nigel Godrich, and artist Tarik Barri--who created striking and crisp visuals that weren't overblown or too pushy. The visuals moved to the beat of Thom's samples and synths like ink wading it's way through water and oil. It may seem like a lot to take in, but suffice to say, it works when seen live and in person. It's trance inducing.
From the first song to the last, I was amazed at how well behaved audience was in attendance. No shouting out of songs, or talking over one another, just eerie silence throughout the main floor of the Chicago Theatre. Everyone was standing as far as I could see, swaying to the beats, and keeping in place. This just added to the cool ambience throughout the nearly two hour show, witnessing a sophisticated production, with like minded music hounds.
Beyond Thom's ready made beats, we also had the occasional live bass, guitar and piano. All musicians taking turns playing each other's instruments, seamlessly moving about in a methodical and groove heavy order, not intruding in any way at all, but each contributing to the songs and making them whole.
This current tour is based on Thom Yorke's solo album Tomorrow's Modern Boxes. An album that didn't quite take off when released, but yet still holds some captivating music embracing electronica and ambient beats and samples. Visually, the music from Tomorrow's Modern Boxes sucks you in with artistic programming showing striking detail of flower petals, orange balls dropping or rising vertically, and waves crashing into a psychedelic maze. The imagery only enhances the listening experience, making you once again go back and listen to Tomorrow's Modern Boxes one more time, and connect the music of the live performance.
Many of the songs that Thom performed were detached, with little in the way of constant repetitive beats or hooks, but more mellow and subtle. All the more to suck you into the improvisation. This is clearly not your normal live show of extravagance with a party atmosphere, like when we at JBTV Music Television documented Radiohead's live performance at the Metro when the band was starting out. And for this listener, that is a welcomed change indeed.
"Atoms For Peace" played during the encore, and looked and felt like an electronic lullaby with the song's gentle overtones. Like most of this show, it was a somber moment, preceded with many just like it.
Hard to totally grasp exactly what this reviewer just took in. I have the visuals from shooting the show as record of this live performance, but I feel like if this was a two or three night residency, I would have to go see all the shows, just to pick up on things I might have missed the first time out.
Everything about this show was a little different, and most compelling.
Probably the way Thom Yorke likes it.
Thom Yorke Setlist from the Chicago Theatre:
2. A Brain in a Bottle
3. Impossible Knots
4. Black Swan
5. I Am a Very Rude Person
6. Pink section
7. Nose grows Some
8. Cymbal Rush
9. The Clock
10. Two Feet Off the Ground
12. Not the News
13. Truth Ray
16. Reckoner (Radiohead Song)
17. The Axe
18. Atoms for Peace