The Orpheum Theater, LA
October 4, 2009
The Thom Yorke Band, ??????, took the stage for night one of their two-night stint at The Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. The band came together approximately 3 weeks ago and is already blowing the minds of fans, friends, and yes, celebrities (seeing as these shows are the place to be) with their live performance. Not many musicians can form a band and successfully hit the stage so quickly. But we’re not talking about just any musicians – we’re talking about Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, Flea, Joey Waronker, and Mauro Refosco.
Tonight the Thom Yorke band played a set nearly identical to their rehearsal show at The Echoplex on Friday. They began by playing The Eraser, start to finish, in sequence. The crowd sat down during the first 4 songs which felt strange, considering the talent that was on the stage and the music they were playing. It must have felt strange to Yorke too because as soon as they finished “Black Swan” and before they kicked in to “Skip Divided” Yorke requested the audience stand up.
“You know when I was getting ready to do these shows, I was saying to a friend of mine, ‘Y’know I really hope they dance to this music.’ This was all about making a dance record. So if you do want to sit there like it’s a cinema, that’s ok. . . But if you do wanna get up, well. . .” Yorke announced as the crowd (finally) stood up and cheered.
I’m happy he said something. Otherwise, I was going to be that a$$hole who stands and blocks everyone’s view because I don’t know how to sit still for “Skip Divided,” “Atoms For Peace,” “And It Rained All Night,” “Harrowdown Hill” and “Cymbal Rush” (certainly can’t sit during “Cymbal Rush”). It was hard enough to sit during the first 4 songs (albeit easier to see).
Indeed, the show at The Orpheum had a different feel than Friday night’s intimate gathering at The Echoplex. For one thing, The Orpheum is a seated venue which divides the audience, interferes with one’s ability to dance, and requires an immense number of security staff to ensure people stay in their seat and don’t step outside the black tape and into the aisles. In this economy, it’s good to see there are jobs for such a large security team. At the same time, it definitely impacts the vibe of the show and restricts the crowd’s ability to express their excitement wholeheartedly.
Regardless, the show was spectacular. The percussion team of Waronker and Refosco put drum machines to shame as they somehow replicated and enhanced the beats heard on the recorded versions of the songs. Yorke danced around on stage some, but seemed quite a bit more reserved than he did at The Echoplex, where he danced like this (and then some) during every song. Perhaps he restrained himself, realizing the crowd wouldn’t be able to join him as they previously could due to the restrictive nature of the venue layout (and security crew).
But I know Yorke wanted to dance more. And he wanted us to dance more. So if you’re lucky enough to be attending the show Monday night, at least pretend you know how lucky you are to be there. There may be a lot of guys and gals in bright yellow jackets. . . but there are more of us!
Videos from the show (watch in HD for a better viewing experience):
Here are some photos I captured: