Ra­dio­head’s Yorke re­mark­able in solo show at the River­side

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Green Sheet - Piet Levy Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - WIS­CON­SIN

Thom Yorke’s River­side The­ater show in Mil­wau­kee Wed­nes­day wasn’t just a chance to see the Ra­dio­head front­man in a more in­ti­mate set­ting. It was a chance to see him in Mil­wau­kee, pe­riod.

Yorke’s never been here as a solo per­former, and the last time Ra­dio­head was in these parts was 15 years ago, and that was at Alpine Val­ley Mu­sic The­atre in East Troy.

You might think Wed­nes­day’s sold­out show was a case of ne­glected fans set­tling for a com­pro­mise: the dreaded solo van­ity project. And on pa­per, there were points to make your case.

Across a two-hour set, Yorke didn’t play a sin­gle Ra­dio­head song. On top of that, he played six songs that haven’t been re­leased.

But you wouldn’t be more wrong. Mi­nus the other men of Ra­dio­head, and Ra­dio­head’s songs, Yorke’s set Wed­nes­day nev­er­the­less re­sem­bled the ab­sorb­ing aura, and ul­ti­mately the im­pact, that make his main band’s gigs so be­guil­ing.

Ra­dio­head re­mains one of the most ad­ven­tur­ous arena rock bands of all time. Yorke evoked a sim­i­lar tex­tu­ral dex­ter­ity and wan­derer’s spirit for Wed­nes­day’s elec­tronic set, whether he was con­jur­ing alien yet or­ganic beats be­hind a syn­the­sizer with Ra­dio­head’s go-to pro­ducer Nigel Go­drich by his side, or sup­ply­ing spry live gui­tar riffs to “A Brain in a Bot­tle,” a heady club banger fit for an al­ter­nate uni­verse.

Nat­u­rally, Yorke’s ethe­real croon was his great­est in­stru­ment Wed­nes­day. It didn’t re­ally mat­ter that there likely wasn’t a per­son in a crowd of 2,500 who had never heard un­re­leased songs like “I Am a Very Rude Per­son” be­fore. Yorke’s voice was so ex­pres­sive, so oth­er­worldly yet so frag­ile, ev­ery mo­ment he sang was mag­netic.

Yorke wasn’t stuck in his own head Wed­nes­day, de­spite the cere­bral solo ma­te­rial. He was in arena-ready per­for­mance mode, sup­ply­ing ju­bi­lant, jit­tery head bops and slinky hip sways through­out the night. He play­fully feigned ter­ror when a gi­ant red cir­cle dom­i­nated the five back­ing screens on the stage near the end of “Black Swan,” and he imp­ishly pursed his lips near the end of “Atoms for Peace.”

Com­ple­ment­ing Yorke’s the­atrics were pro­jected an­i­mated vi­su­als that artist Tarik Barri cre­ated live on­stage with his lap­top. Like the mu­sic, they were ab­stract and bold, a se­ries of mu­tat­ing shapes, col­ors and tones.

Sights and sounds reached their crescendo at the per­fect mo­ment for en­core fi­nale “De­fault,” a song from Yorke’s Atoms for Peace side project with Go­drich and Red Hot Chili Pep­pers bassist Flea. But as Yorke twitched un­der strobe lights, and Go­drich’s beats and Barri’s vi­su­als in­ten­si­fied, some­thing strange sud­denly hap­pened. Go­drich’s mu­sic be­came muf­fled, like the speak­ers had been dropped in Lake Michi­gan, while Barri’s vi­su­als slowed, like they were in sus­pended an­i­ma­tion.

Then Yorke’s voice, in its most vul­ner­a­ble tone of the night, floated over a hushed room.

“The will is strong, but the flesh is weak,” he sang. “I guess that’s it. I’ve made my bed and I’m ly­ing in it.”

Mil­wau­kee’s Ra­dio­head fans may not have been able to see the band in town for ages. But that was the sort of spe­cial, naked mo­ment they wouldn’t have been able to see any­where else.

json­line.com/en­ter­tain­ment. MELISSA MILLER / PABST THE­ATER GROUP

Ra­dio­head's Thom Yorke per­forms at the River­side The­ater on Wed­nes­day. More pho­tos at

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.