The Lonely Minotaur

Music & Concert Reviews

Ed O’Brien Soars in New York City Debut — February 11, 2020

Ed O’Brien Soars in New York City Debut

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.

https://www.eobmusic.com

Main

Love Story (Layo and Bushwacka cover)

Shangri-La

Banksters

Mass

Long Time Coming

Deep Days

On My Own (Ulrich Schnauss cover)

Sail On

Brasil

Encore

Olympik

I Got The (Labi Siffre cover)

Thom Yorke’s ANIMA: A Track-By-Track Breakdown — June 30, 2019

Thom Yorke’s ANIMA: A Track-By-Track Breakdown

This album was a solid four years in the making with a handful of mini tours previewing future material. Once again Thom teams up with producer Nigel Godrich as bandmate and creative partner. I feel fortunate that we are now in a phase when so many Radiohead projects are seeing the light of day. Between Thom’s new solo record ANIMA, last year’s film soundtrack to Suspiria, Jonny Greenwood’s film scores to Phantom Thread and You Were Never Really Here, to Phil Selway’s solo albums/movie soundtrack and Ed O’Brien’s upcoming solo debut due this fall. That is not to mention the Ok Computer mini disc leaks of early June and a heavily teased 20th anniversary Kid A/Amnesiac boxset reissue for October 2020. These are very happy times. Before you know it Radiohead will be gearing up for LP10. 

Traffic – ANIMA picks up where Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes seemingly left off. Very similar DNA on this track to many of those tunes and is also featured as the middle section of the ANIMA one reeler by Paul Thomas Anderson on Netflix. 

Last I Heard (…He was circling the drain) – Sonically feels like another version of “Interference” from Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes. A good thing in my opinion as that was a stand out song. Thom describes a dystopia of human sized rats and swimming through the gutters. 

Twist – One of the crown jewels of this record. A long time live favorite which exceeded all expectations on the record. There is even a call back to “15 Step” with children shouting “YAY!”. The real treat of this song is the three minute coda which was previously known as “Saturdays”. Definitively one of the best passages of music Thom has cooked up as a solo artist.

Dawn Chorus – A long time rumored Radiohead song with a mixed bag of fact and fiction surrounding it. Believed to be many other songs (“Open The Flood Gates”, “Wake Me Before They Come”) Thom performed live over the last decade but it ended up being none of those. A devastating beautiful spoken word track that looks back on a life worth living twice despite any hardships. One of the best keyboard melodies the man has ever committed to tape. Sounds like the older brother to “Glass Eyes”. Looking forward to this one live. “Dawn Chorus” is also the final song in the ANIMA one reeler which ends in a surprisingly romantic way for a Radiohead related project. A visually stunning finale to Paul Thomas Anderson’s 15 minute short. 

I Am A Very Rude Person – The most Radiohead like sounding song on ANIMA. Could easily have been on A Moon Shaped Pool. The first guitar notes of the album are heard here. Very heavy on the bass which translates into some fantastic grooves. The ending choir effects are a nice touch. “I have to destroy to create”. 

Not The News – A song that just makes you want to dance and give way to whatever impulses you might have. I consider this the lead single for the record despite not officially having one. An IDM banger. The orchestra swell mid song is truly hair raising stuff and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Jonny Greenwood was a part of that moment. This is also the opening montage to the ANIMA film project. 

The Axe – If the Black Mirror TV show had a theme song this would be it. Humanity vs. technology. Thom wanting to take an axe to our over reliance on technology reminds me of Pink Floyd’s warnings that “one of these days I’m going to cut you into little pieces”. A real album highlight for sure. Nigel Godrich with some of his best production work.

Impossible Knots – On first listen this track sounds like Thom’s other side project Atoms For Peace. Great pulsating bass lines and cameo drumming by Phil Selway. Likely to be a favorite of many who listen to this record. 

Runwayaway – Beginning with guitar noodling that sounds like an outtake of Radiohead’s “These Are My Twisted Words” before morphing into its own unique creation. Thom even revisits his Quasimoto style vocals not heard since the Amnesiac days. The final moments of our journey through Thom’s dreamscape subconscious. Time to wake up….

Grade: A    (Thom’s best solo work by a wide margin)

Radiohead Are Happy To Serve You…. — August 7, 2018

Radiohead Are Happy To Serve You….

Saturday, July 14th, marked the forth and final sold out show for Radiohead at Madison Square Garden this week. Each evening a little more unique than the previous. One never knows what oldie or rarity the band might unearth on any given night. Already in Chicago during the tour’s first stop, “Blow Out”, was performed for the first time since 2008. A real treat for those in the audience as Pablo Honey era songs outside “Creep” are rarely attempted. Could we be so lucky at MSG night 4?

The band came out of the gate like a slow lumbering beast, the gentle piano and keyboards of “Daydreaming” swirling and swelling to a crescendo of Thom Yorke pledging he is “Just happy to serve………you.”. Radiohead quickly flipped the script after the Neil Young tinged “Desert Island Disk” by transforming the entire arena into a giant pulsating rave party with “Ful Stop”. That is one of the many aspects I love about this band. The diversity in style and scope between one song to the next. They keep you on your toes at all times. A sensory overload for sure.

Highlights from the main set included a slower version of “Kid A” with drummer Phil Selway supplying a military like backbeat, the punky “2+2 = 5” with Thom spitting out pure venom, “Videotape” with a new backing keyboard by Jonny Greenwood, the rejected James Bond theme “Spectre”, the Romeo & Juliet inspired “Exit Music (For A Film)” featuring fantastic guitar noodling by Jonny and finally the Can infused “There There”. Each time I hear it live I become more and more convinced that this tune is one of their greatest masterpieces. The guitar solo finale by Jonny was absolutely savage. He was playing like a man with his hair on fire. One of my favorite moments of any Radiohead show I’ve ever attended. A song like this is very very hard to top, so naturally Radiohead one upped it by playing “Street Spirit (Fade Out)” which is an all-timer in its own right.

For me the encores at a Radiohead show are like unwrapping presents on Christmas Morning. What will the band give us tonight? What jaw dropping relic from the past or unreleased ditty could the band pull from their deep catalogue? At first it seemed the band were going to play it straight and simple with some old faithfuls like the always incredible “Idioteque”, the Ice Storm themed “House of Cards”, the sad guitar finger plucking of “Present Tense” and the rip roaring “Bodysnatchers”. However, the real gift in the first encore was the addition of “The Tourist”. It has only been played sparingly since the year 2000 but it seems the band have fallen back in love with the song as it has popped up several times since 2017.

Encore 2 began with just Thom acoustically and Jonny on his laptop working on vocal loops as the duo launched into the somber “Give Up The Ghost”. I was surprised the band next performed “Optimistic”. One of the finer moments from Kid A but to me it deserves placement earlier in the main setlist. Doesn’t really have the feel of encore type song. I’d have looked towards “My Iron Lung”, “Let Down” or “Reckoner” but that’s just me. With one song left to play on the night, you knew it was either going to be “Karma Police” or “Creep”. Maybe even both like the last time I caught Radiohead at the Garden in 2016. The band elected for “Karma Police” and it quickly became the biggest singalong moment of the evening. I love that when the song finishes Thom keeps strumming and lets the arena sing the chorus as the band slowly slips off stage one by one.

There have been a lot of whispers over the last few weeks that director Paul Thomas Anderson and Radiohead are secretly working on a tour documentary of this North American summer tour. I really hope that comes to fruition. It would be nice to see a spiritual successor to their previous documentary Meeting People Is Easy (1998). That film showed the pain and agony of becoming one of the worlds biggest rock bands. It would now be nice to cap it off with a celebration of all that Radiohead have accomplished over the last 25 years. It has truly been an extraordinary run, a run which hopefully has many more chapters yet to be written.

7/14/2018 – Night 4 

Daydreaming

Desert Island Disk

Ful Stop

2+2=5

Kid A

All I Need

Videotape

No Surprises

Bloom

Everything In Its Right Place

Lotus Flower

The Numbers

Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

Spectre

Exit Music (For A Film)

There There

Street Spirit

Encore:

Idioteque

House of Cards

The Present Tense

Bodysnatchers

The Tourist

Encore 2:

Give Up The Ghost

Optimistic

Karma Police