Concert Reviews

Thom Yorke at the Scotiabank Arena

Photos by Randall Vasquez

Almost like an apparition, Thom Yorke appears on stage accompanied by long-time album producer and collaborator Nigel Godrich and visual collaborator Tarik Barri. He walks to the front of the stage, bows to the crowd, and takes a seat at his keyboard to begin.

The sounds of Interference begin a set of songs that meld beautifully into each other, with Yorke’s falsetto drifting like a dream through a rich musical landscape. The show and stage hold an intimacy more like the Danforth than the arena we’re in, apart from the screen wrapped around the back of the stage. You can see the care and attention that’s gone into the staging. The screen shines with comet like projections, iridescent shapes and flowing patterns, it’s breath taking – pulsing along with the music and, at some points, shining like a bright sun.

I once heard Radiohead play a surprise gig at Glastonbury festival. I say ‘heard’ because I was about half a mile from the stage, up a hill, unable to see if it actually was Radiohead down there or if it had all been a rumour. It wasn’t until the opening strains of Lotus Flower that I knew I’d legged it up that hill in the mud and rain for good reason. Tonight Thom again felt just a bit out of reach, a hazy figure on stage. Because I’d forgotten my glasses. However seeing a featureless outline feels somehow more fitting for a performer holding god-like genius status among a portion of his fans.

At the beginning of Black Swan Yorke spins the mic stand out toward the audience several times; the result is a pulsing burst of cheers with each spin, blending into the music performed on stage. Taking a leaf from Radiohead band mate Jonny Greenwood’s book, Yorke turned composer for the Luca Guadagnino film Suspiria, and sprinkles a couple of pieces into his set alongside tracks from his three solo albums and Atoms for Peace. It’s hard to pick a highlight with a gig so consistently good that it felt like a flowing organism of sound and light.

At times the gig feels like a lullaby, at others spiritual. It’s compelling, comforting and after a long week, feels like a beautiful soft landing…like being lovingly drawn into an abyss.

About author

Northern English gig monkey, feminist, indy kid. Mostly enthusiasm and elbows.