Everything in Its Right Place Afterall: Thom Yorke & Flea’s Band Debut in LA
9.27.09 2:53 AM: Receive text from Bryce Carr explaining Thom Yorke & Flea are starting a band and will play LA next Sunday
9:58 AM: Leave class discussion of how men ruined the world with misogynistic patriarchy to find nearest computer
10:03 AM: The Ticketmaster Queue wait escalates while I consider how my life would be if I missed the show, or the chance to ask Thom Yorke if the aliens told him about 2012 before it happens.
10:07 AM: Karma delivers me box seats (reportedly worth $3500 the day of the show)
Yesterday morning I woke up to find Pitchfork’s completed Top 200 albums of the 2000’s. In what only seemed fitting for the Morning After seeing Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Chili Pepper’s Flea unite in a musical union that was as equally intriguing as captivating, Kid A was declared the Top album of the decade. Coming from a guy who’s second CD received as a gift was Amnesiac (J-Lo’s On the 6 was #1, cuz of the cover), who spent at least 400 hours driving Washington backroads to the Greenwood’s anthems and who once passed Thom in an Oxford Park pathway (@!&#%!), I probably won’t ever be able to convey the satisfaction of last night. But alas, with some syntax and diction dancin I’ll try.
Thom and Flea were accompanied by R.E.M./Beck drummer Joey Waronker, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich and percussionist Mauro Refosco. Now while I entirely respect and completely appreciate what the Peps’ have done over the past two decades, I was a bit skeptical as to how Flea’s sex funk would integrate into Thom’s polar opposite creations. Yet I know each of the Peps’ are ridiculously talented musicians deservedly worthy of respect in their own rights. Needless to say, Flea had absolutely no problem jumpin in to his British stagemate’s productions.
The Orpheum Theatre in LA housed the so far nameless band. The theatre deserves limelight itself. The 1926 constructed vaudeville theatre is a beautiful relic of the past, with superb acoustics and a perfect fit for the symphony-esque presence of the Yorke Quintet. Plus, somehow I ended up with box seats, putting me about a dozen Stratocaster lengths away from Thom & Flea.
Similar to experiences in Vondel Park, I’ve come to realize that the Radiohead/Yorke live experience is ineffable. Personal biases aside, I just have never seen another show that compares to the perfection, presence and presentation that Radiohead delivers in concert. The Yorke Quintet opened with the title track of Thom’s 2006 solo album The Eraser, and continued to play tracks off it. I was stunned at how accurately and brilliantly the backing band recreated the album. Flea’s character upted the ante on the songs, though he never seemed to distract from the distinct style of the tunes. Rather he infused the trademark Peppers’ energy in the song. As a testament to that, the whole Theatre was up and dancing by about midset. Moreover, Thom’s alien dance moves got ratcheted up to a whole new level while he matched his stage partner.
The Quintet’s new material–much of which is still being named, as Thom noted–carried the lofty, gorgeously haunting ambiance we’ve all come to love from the Brit Heroes. Flea’s bass went beyond any mere musical backbone and elevated the punch of the sound. While a few tunes embodied the classic funk bass edge of the Peps’ work, Flea mastered an excellent, energetic complement to Thom’s melodies. I suppose you’ve got to hear it, though its ultimately a synthesis that comes across both effortless and seamless. You get the dreamscape, soaring poignancy of Thom stitched with Flea’s passion and bight. Nigel Godrich played the unsung hero, providing about every accessory sound imaginable. The layering and complexities of what he was doing was unbelievable, and kept me wondering where the hell the sounds were coming from. Now, the percussion may have been the highlight. The gang utilized two drumsets–though percussive arrangements might do more justice considering how eclectic the range of instruments was–that worked beautifully off one another. The intricate beats were so smooth and well put together, but so wildly detailed that the whole presentation was awe inspiring.
At this point, I don’t think I can offer much of an explanation as to how captivating and satisfying the Yorke/Flea experiment went. Simply, it was two of the world’s greatest musicians over the past two decades flawlessly fusing their work together. I will just offer my highest recommendations to jump on the album as soon as its finished.
“Atoms For Peace”
“And It Rained All Night”
“Open The Floodgates”
“Judge, Jury & Executioner”
“The Hollow Earth”
“Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses”
Cymbal Rush at Orpheus Theatre
Pictures from wwww.BrooklynVegan.com