Atoms For Peace perform at the Hollywood Bowl on Oct. 16
Photo: Jamie Harvey
Atoms For Peace At The Hollywood Bowl
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By Jamie Harvey
It was more than six months ago that I purchased tickets to see Atoms For Peace at the Hollywood Bowl, and as I approached the venue on Oct. 16 and saw the marquee, it felt like I'd been waiting a lifetime for that night. I could not have been more excited to be outside on one of the last warm days of the year to hear one of my favorite voices, Thom Yorke of Radiohead, at my favorite Los Angeles concert venue.
As the band entered onstage and began with "Before Your Very Eyes...," the first track on their 2013 debut album, Amok, I could not believe how great it sounded. It was as if the cold, electronic cogs of the album were brought to life and sounded very organic. It was amazing to glance around the Hollywood Bowl and see faces swaying to the music in the shadow of the Hollywood Hills, my home. The Hollywood Bowl was like another member of the band, enhancing the show. During "Default," the most charismatic song on the album, I felt a deeper connection to time and place as the syncopated rhythm lured me further into the set.
"The Clock" was the first performance of the night from Yorke's 2006 solo album, The Eraser, and the flurry of drums took over the venue. Flea, of Red Hot Chili Peppers, played bass, and he and Yorke wore knee-length matching skirts, furthering the tribal feel of the song. Longtime Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich was part of the percussion team, alongside Mauro Refosco and Joey Waronker.
Yorke's "Harrowdown Hill" haunted me as the lyrics "we think the same things at the same time" mixed with the funkiness of Flea's bass. But the best moments of the set came when only Yorke's voice sailed across the venue and through the hills. There was such purity in his vocals, tinged with both melancholy and hope, which is the dichotomy his music has always represented to me. To watch him solitarily sing with a mix of confidence and fragility made me gasp and cry.
Before "Rabbit In Your Headlights," a song Yorke recorded with British electronic duo Unkle, Flea recited an excerpt from the 1990 horror film Jacob's Ladder, which created a heaviness to a mood that had lightened in the middle of the set. Next was the one Radiohead song performed, "Paperbag Writer," which sounded like a dream.
Finishing up with "Black Swan," my favorite track from York's solo album, I relished in the way it was elongated, creating even more of a delicate sound that counteracted with the four-letter word in the chorus. As the band left the stage, the screens framing the stage flashed "Don't Go." Thinking there might be another song coming, we were instead treated to the premiere of the video for "Before Your Very Eyes...."
It was a strange way to end what was already a transcendental show.
To catch Atoms For Peace in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
"Before Your Very Eyes..."
"The Clock" (Thom Yorke)
"And It Rained All Night" (Thom Yorke)
"Harrowdown Hill" (Thom Yorke)
"Cymbal Rush" (Thom Yorke)
"Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses" (Thom Yorke)
"Rabbit In Your Headlights" (Unkle)
"Paperbag Writer" (Radiohead)
"Atoms For Peace" (Thom Yorke)
"Black Swan" (Thom Yorke)
"Before Your Very Eyes..." (music video premiere)
(Jamie Harvey lives in Los Angeles and is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She has attended and written about more than 500 shows since 2007. You can follow her musical adventures at www.hardrockchick.com.)