LIVE REPORTWHITE STAGE7/26 FRI
THOM YORKE TOMORROW’S MODERN BOXES
Darkness without despair
When it comes to modern music, we don’t have too many living legends. Few artists who may have past the peak of their success, but who have nonetheless never stopped innovating and staying relevant. Thom Yorke is one such person. With Radiohead he defined and redefined rock music, and with his solo work, soundtracks and side projects(even a Netflix special!) he has continued to grow as an artist. This fall he will be taking these non-Radiohead works on tour, presumably in the lead up to the release of a new album. And Fuji Rock is lucky enough to be one of the first places he tries out this new project.
The first thing one notices is the set. No drums, no guitars, just a few synthesizers on stands. A bit like if Kraftwerk loosened up a bit. It is also apparent how much of the electronic crowd he managed to pull away from the overlapping Chemical Brothers set. The White Stage was nearing capacity well before the show started in the mid evening Friday night.
While not alone up there, it is clear that the stage is his. Thom has developed a swagger and confidence as a frontman which he seldom displayed in the past. He still flails like an alien trapped in a human’s skin, but he also saunters and poses. When he is in musical action the stage feels like a series of islands in a sea, ones where he can stop where he pleases to pick up a bass, ring a bell, whatever he would like.
The set also showed how important Nigel Godrich is and always has been to Thom’s sound as his producer. He stayed firmly in the background, never coming close to the spotlight, by his vital contributions were apparent.
The music was of course characteristically dark and brooding, but Thom didn’t seem beholden to the darkness. The crowd reaction to nearly each track goes to show that regardless how large a shadow Radiohead may cast, Thom Yorke has forged his own personal music path. He seemed comfortable on stage and fundamentally in control.
After a long day of intermittent rain and heat, the dryness and chill Naeba provided for the majority of the set gave it the perfect autumnal feel. Everything seemed at peace, or at least in a stage of rapt focus. Everything in its right place you could say. While the crowd wasn’t exactly dancing, there was very little idle chatter. Peace, calm and focus. The perfect setting for the guy’s music.