Because I’ve somehow managed to miss Radiohead every time the band has performed anywhere near Milwaukee and Chicago, I jumped at the chance to see frontman Thom Yorke when he performed at the Riverside on Wednesday night, even though I know the two experiences are not at all the same thing.
The electronic performance, created in tandem with longtime collaborator Nigel Godrich and with projected visuals provided by Tarik Barri, was part of the trio’s "Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes," tour, named for Yorke’s second solo set, released in 2014.
The tour is the second for this trio. Godrich has collaborated with Radiohead on all of its records since the band’s second, "The Bends," released in 1995, on which he worked as engineer. He has also worked with Yorke on the latter’s solo discs and the two also toured together in 2015.
At the performance – at which each of three performers manned a rather space-age looking pedestal full of equipment – Yorke sang and played kayboard and both he and Godrich manned the guitar, bass and laptops, performing songs from "Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes" and Yorke’s solo debut, "The Eraser," from 2006, as well as from the Atoms for Peace "Amok" side project and from Yorke’s recent soundtrack for Luca Guadagnino’s "Suspiria" film.
Radiohead fans hoping to hear music from that band will have left disappointed, as Yorke and company played none.
The evocative visuals that accompanied the music are the work of Dutch audiovisual composer Barri, who is based in Berlin, and who worked from one of those pedestals on stage. Like Godrich, Barri also collaborated with Yorke on the 2015 tour and he also did video work for Atoms for Peace.
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Watching the trippy images float across the stage as the music filled the room – which looked nearly sold-out – I couldn’t help but wonder if this was a bit what it was like when the Mark Boyle Sensual Laboratory projected its psychedelic images behind the Jimi Hendrix Experience at The Scene across the street 50 years ago.
Though I’ve never experienced Radiohead in concert, I have seen Yorke perform solo before, at an in-store appearance at Tower Records in Chicago when the band was touring in support of its debut album, "Pablo Honey."
To first appearances, of course, the music at these two shows would seem divergent – the urgent, high-tension rock of early Radiohead and the trance-ish, ethereal, rock-inflected electronica of Wednesday night – the experiences were, in fact, similar, with Yorke pouring himself into the music, which in both cases was powerful and emotive.
London cellist and film composer Oliver Coates opened the show, with a dark, occasionally frenetic set of cello backed with electronic tracks that created an edgy, Bernard Herrmann-style tension.
A Brain in a Bottle
I Am a Very Rude Person
Nose Grows Some
Two Feet Off the Ground
Not the News
Atoms for Peace
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.