Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien took to the stage Monday night in New York City for just the 3rd time as a solo artist at the sold out Le Poisson Rouge. Last week Ed officially announced his upcoming debut album Earth which is due out on April 17th and has already been supported by the singles “Shangri-La” and the folky rave up banger “Brasil”. The album was inspired by Ed moving to Brazil with his family for most of 2012-2013 and forming a spiritual connection with nature. Outside of that not much is known on how Earth will sound overall. It was previously announced that Earth is co-produced by the legendary Flood and Catherine Marks, mixed by Alan Moulder and featuring a bevy of supporting musicians: Omar Hakim, Nathan East, Dave Okumu, Laura Marling, Adrian Utley, Glenn Kotche and Radiohead bandmate Colin Greenwood. For many in the crowd our first taste of solo Ed was about to begin.
O’Brien is using the moniker EOB for his upcoming solo ventures and touring act which will see Hinako Omori on keyboards, Ross Chapman on rhythm guitar, Dishan Abrahams handling the bass and Alvin Ford, Jr. on the sticks. It’s a much smaller operation compared to his other day job in Radiohead but do not let that fool you. EOB pack one mighty punch! Ed was in tremendous spirits all evening and thanked the crowd profusely for coming out in a rainy Monday in the city. He seemed generally touched by all the positive outpour the fans were giving his music and told a wonderful story about a woman he had met at Whole Foods earlier in the day that instilled a huge confidence boost inside him.
The show opened with a brief instrumental called “Love Story” before EOB launched into new Achtung Baby inspired single “Shangri-La” which promptly fired up all those in attendance. From there the band worked their way through another new song called “Banksters” that carried a strong A Rush of Blood To The Head vibe. Specifically “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face”. Ed recently told TheFace.com that “Banksters” is one of the oldest songs he had written and dates back from 2009. Next came a tune named “Mass” which was a slower acoustic based number that to my ears sounded like early 00s Sigur Ros. Very euphoric with a cinematic atmosphere.
As a result of only having one future album featuring 45 minutes of music, Ed let everyone know that some covers and extended jamming would be taking place. First up was a cover of a Krautrock song called “On My Own” by Ulrich Schnauss. It was an excellent choice that slid in well within the context of EOB’s playing style and the music drawn from the upcoming Earth album. This was followed by another new song “Sail On” that floated in a spacey manner with echoes of 80s Pink Floyd. A no doubt highlight of the setlist was the 8 minute sprawling rave up “Brasil”. It begins with Ed singing gently over acoustic guitar plucking before evolving into a world class banger that incorporated all the best aspects of his band. I can’t help but be reminded of Daft Punk and Random Access Memories on this tune. A proper way to close out the main set of the night.
Just when you thought EOB can not possibly top the heights heard on “Brasil”, Ed and company throw down the gauntlet with another chugging anthem called “Olympik”. It was a tremendous start to the encore and most likely one of the best songs from Earth. The guitar work reminded me of U2’s Edge and the overall tune bounced around like a modern day “A Sort of Homecoming” from The Unforgettable Fire. A good thing in my book! The night would come to an end with a surprising cover of Labi Siffre’s “I Got The” which is most famous for being sampled by Eminem in the mega smash hit “My Name Is” from 1999. Naturally EOB crushed the Siffre cover and the crowd reacted strongly to the funky breakdowns of “I Got The”.
Before departing the stage Ed promised he would return to the city in the summer with heavy touring all over the globe for 2020. Things are only starting to heat up for EOB and we are the ones who are going to benefit from it. Anyone in the audience tonight was treated to a wonderful performance from a man who is opening his heart and tender soul for the first time. I am anxiously counting down the days until April 17th when debut LP Earth will be released.
Pre-order Earth here.
Love Story (Layo and Bushwacka cover)
Long Time Coming
On My Own (Ulrich Schnauss cover)
I Got The (Labi Siffre cover)