Posted by: martinworster | October 6, 2009

73. THOM YORKE CATCHES A FLEA

There I was perusing The Guardian on a Tuesday morning to read that Radiohead’s Thom Yorke was forming a new supergroup with Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. It wasn’t April Fools day. I followed through to Thom’s blog to find out that tickets were going on sale at 10am later in the day and they were playing in Los Angles the following Sunday. Bingo. Short of Led Zeppelin and David Bowie playing in my living room, this was gig of the decade. In debt to the powers of the internet, a mere few hours later I was lucky enough to get tickets. The future looked bright.

 

Outside the art nouveau master piece that is the Orpheum Theatre in downtown LA the neon sign announced ‘Sell Out: ???????????’. The band was unnamed. Thom Yorke arrived on stage to an appreciative roar. Helped by Flea on bass, this was a noughties supergroup with Nigel Godrich on guitar and lending backing vocals, Mauro Refosco on percussion and REMs drummer Joey Waronker providing the beats. They were to play Yorke’s solo album Eraser.

 

Eraser is a deep electronic album, oweing much to Warp and Aphex Twin with it’s squelchy notes and bubbling basslines. Tonight with such a talented group of musicians it took on exciting and organic new forms. Clock became a funky percussive Afro work out underpinned by Flea’s winding bass lines. Atoms For Peace a sparse melodic anthem all the more haunting with live instrumentation. The tone and contrast between the more intense work outs and the gentler ballads was pitch perfect. They also covered Radiohead’s Paperbag Writer. Thom played some of his new material on his own – Lotus Flower, Open The Floodgates and Super Collider – comfortably basked in the spotlight, his unique voice more of an instrument than the piano he tinkled.

 

In contrast to his persona with Radiohead, Thom looked really happy, beaming as he danced around propelled by the intricately layered percussion. At times he looked like a Hindu temptress as he wriggled with his hands over his head as if in prayer. Flea bobbed around alongside Thom like a Manc raver, wobbling his head and shuffling his Converse, both clearly having the time of their lives. On a few tracks Flea even got all Seinfield with the slap bass.

 

“I just want to thank the band. We’ve only been rehearsing for three weeks. And we’ve worked our tits off,’ Thom said. As a testament to their talent, it looked like they’d been playing together for three years. It felt like we were privy to a unique one off, which made the atmosphere all the more special. I’m not sure if they have plans for future gigs. It must be difficult for members of two of the biggest bands in the world to jaunt off on such a new venture. I hope they manage to get in the studio and record this – it deserves to be bottled for eternity.

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