Moving Tone Thom Yorke review.   Leave a comment

Patrick Widdess reports on Thom Yorke – The Corn Exchange, Cambridge, 25 February 2010

Fans were queuing outside the Corn Exchange all day for the hotly anticipated gig by the Radiohead frontman. From the moment it was announced it looked set to be the gig of the year if not the decade. Good news for the Green Party who organised it and for Pete Um, local experimental artist doing the support.
More accustomed to playing the Portland and busking with a ghetto blaster at Strawberry Fair, Pete Um seemed rather vulnerable, standing alone on the Corn Exchange’s vast stage. Undaunted and looking sharp in a brown suit he belted out his off-beat poetic drawl accompanied by mangled electronic music from his mini-disc player backing band. The uninitiated may have found the performance hard to engage with. One spectator was heard to remark “The bloke on stage sounds like he’s on LSD!” Overall the set was well received and it was a proud moment for supporters of the local music scene to see one of its stalwarts getting a well-deserved moment in the limelight.
Green Party candidate Tony Juniper gave a short speech reminding punters of the night’s cause before introducing Thom Yorke who made no acknowledgement of the crowd initially but strapped on a guitar and got straight on with the show with The Clock from solo album Eraser. “Time is running out… for us” he wailed gently, echoing the sentiments of Tony Juniper’s speech. Few singers have a voice so unique and well-developed as Thom’s and hearing it live after years of hearing it on record was moving experience. Radiohead have become to me, the musical equivalent of a best friend. Like friends I didn’t choose them, didn’t even like them at first, but they have remained constant companions over many years producing consistently credible and often incredible music.
Standing in the middle of a huge crowd captivated by the music of one man is certainly incredible. Thom moved regularly between guitar, piano and keyboard giving powerful accompaniment to his main instrument; his voice, haunting and ethereal. The set focussed on Radiohead’s later work and his solo album Eraser. There were also some new songs. In Give Up The Ghost he created a simple beat by patting the microphone and singing the melancholy phrase “don’t call me.” He kept this on a loop creating an eerie backing track over which he sang typically bitter sweet lyrics building up the backing as the song progressed. The Daily Mail was a bleak political rant at the piano and the rarely heard I Froze Up, an achingly beautiful lament. Although never a cheery musician he became increasingly jokey and chatty with the audience. Early in the set he stumbled repeatedly whilst playing Weird Fishes/Arpeggi. As the hall erupted with laughter his sullen manner evaporated. In a more serious moment he explained his reasons for doing the gig “I am sick of politicians not talking about green issues. What fucking blows my mind is that half the country is supporting environmental issues yet we are not represented in Parliament and the chance for that to change has got to happen.”
Songs towards the end included another new one, Mouse Dog Bird and Airbag. This classic from OK Computer seemed to retain all the power and intricacies of the original even when stripped to guitar and vocals. Whatever high expectations those attending had, they cannot have been disappointed. Classic Radiohead, solo material, and the debut performance of three new songs combined to make this the special night everyone had hoped for.

Posted February 27, 2010 by peteum2013 in Uncategorized

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