Live review: Thom Yorke, Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 7 Jun
- Henry Northmore
- 8 June 2018
Jittery electronics and techno beats from the Radiohead frontman in collaboration with Nigel Godrich and Tarik Barri
Radiohead are masters of big music and big concepts. Music that dissects the modern world, that captures the human condition adrift in a sea of technology. However, vocalist Thom Yorke's output is more contained, more abstract and electronic.
For Radiohead completists, Oliver Coates is a great choice as opening act. The cellist, composer and producer appeared with the London Contemporary Orchestra on latest album, A Moon Shaped Pool. His blend of contemporary classical with electronic soundscapes and reverberating cello is a fitting primer for Yorke's solo work.
Yorke shuffles on stage with frequent collaborator Nigel Godrich (who has produced every Radiohead album since 1997's OK Computer). It starts slowly with the minimalist 'Interference' but builds through the jittery funk of 'A Brain in a Bottle,' the drum & bass beats of 'Impossible Knots' to the thumping electro of 'Black Swan'. The sparse electronics clashing with harsh techno drawing inspiration from the likes of Aphex Twin, LFO and Richie Hawtin. Despite many of the lyrical themes it's a surprisingly upbeat show. Some of the beats feel rooted in the 90s, but tracks like 'Amok' (from Yorke and Godrich's Atoms For Peace project) or the tropical storm of 'Twist' feel playful and euphoric live. Yorke's vocals clean and pure over the clanking electronica.
This is very much a three-way collaboration. Dutch visual artist Tarik Barri beaming projections and imagery, that ripple and react to the music, onto the screens. A gorgeous mesmerising backdrop. Geometric shapes, a shifting cosmos of stars or jellyfish at one point ink blots morphing into black and white fractal patterns.
There are hardly any pauses between tracks for a seamless mix. Godrich handles the banks of equipment and computers while Yorke picks up various guitars while triggering loops, samples and synths. At times unencumbered, lost in the music as he jerks around the stage, pulling shapes and wobbly dancing.
The final encore finds Yorke alone at the piano for a delicate solo rendition of Radiohead's 'Glass Eyes' a beautifully fragile end that brings the gig full circle.
'A Brain in a Bottle'
'I Am a Very Rude Person'
'Nose Grows Some'
'Two Feet Off the Ground'
'Amok' (Atoms for Peace)
'Not the News'
'Atoms for Peace'
'Default' (Atoms for Peace)
'Glass Eyes' (Radiohead)