This week saw two incredible shows from Thom Yorke as he closed out the 2019 leg of his Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes tour at the Greek Theatre. Visually enticing, thrilling, almost spiritual experience was had by all as Yorke took the audience through hits from his three solo albums.
The night started off with a performance by Italian musician Andrea Belfi who definitely gained a score of new fans during his two opening sets. Belfi was sat in the middle of the stage armed only with his drum kit and a sound machine to play what would be an astounding showcase of musical talent. The crowd was dazzled by Belfi’s technical playing ability as well as his musicianship—combining varying (sometimes dissonant) sounds together with percussion into one symphonic, cohesive composition. Granted, I am not well-versed in the mechanics of drum playing, however, Belfi’s ability to play multiple parts of his kit at once, all while juggling sound changes was a sight to see. The man himself was interesting to watch as he seemed both zeroed in and totally lost in his performance, almost as if the world had melted away and he was all alone in the big open theater. When his set came to an end, Belfi was snapped back to reality and gave a heartwarming thanks to the audience and Thom Yorke.
Fans patiently awaited Yorke’s debut under the chilly October sky. The Greek Theatre's theme—"to play, see and be among the stars"—was especially relevant that night as folks awaited one of the most (in my opinion) inventive "stars" today. The slight chill in the air and pitch-black night were also nice reminders that Halloween was just around the corner.
I was fortunate enough to have pit access for this particular show, so I dug my heels in and planted myself right at the front of the stage. My husband has been a Radiohead fan for years—from his angsty pre-teen stage to singing “Nude” from In Rainbows as a lullaby to our daughter. Marriage is all about compromise and one such compromise we've silently agreed on is that while he drives, we listen to "his" music. Thus, my fondness for Radiohead was born, and it was this fondness for the band (and maybe even my husband) that brought us within feet of Thom Yorke and his two collaborators—Nigel Godrich, longtime Radiohead producer and visual artist Tarik Barr.
After about 25 minutes of waiting, the house lights went down and the trio walked on and took their places. Three “desks” were spread across the stage, each adorned with technical and musical equipment. What would follow was what could only be described as a trip. Swirling neon graphics danced across the screen behind them as Yorke supplied the vocals to hit songs from his three solo projects—The Eraser (2006), Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes (2014) and Anima (2019). He definitely broke a sweat from running from one end of the stage to the other—getting behind his desk to provide piano or beats, coming front and center with just a microphone to sing into the crowd (so close you could touch him), or in the middle of the stage donning a guitar or bass. Yorke broke out his freshest dance moves, jumped up and down and engaged the audience mid-song.
In the pit, I was packed tightly in between die-hard Thom Yorke fans. People swung their hips and danced their hearts out to the heart-pumping beats blaring from the speakers, often hitting me. At one point someone bent down to apologize for “getting in my space” but said that she was “just such a big fan of Thom.” It didn’t bother me too much as I was in awe of the visual show that was going on before our eyes. Every color of the rainbow was displayed in every imaginable configuration.
It was a night bursting at its seams with remarkable talent and electrifying music that left audience members craving more at its close. For me, it was an unforgettable experience that neither I nor my husband will want to forget.