You will never see all my dancing—at the show or in the office as I try to write—but I have to admit, this review is difficult for me to write. I have been a Radiohead and Thom Yorke fan for years, but I am also a Libra which means that if I genuinely love and respect him, I have to be honest and balance out the good with the bad. So instead of just writing a glowing review, which is what I want to do, I will listen to Stephen King and not be a timid writer.
“I don’t have the right to interfere.” Thom Yorke started us with those lyrics. (If you click on the lyrics, there is a hyperlink to a version from the second night of the 2018 Brooklyn show I was supposed to be at.)
“Interference” was followed by “Brain in a Bottle” which got the audience bouncing a little more, and that was tailed by “Impossible Knots,” from Anima.
A fan near me screamed, “I love you, Thom,” and the audience went crazy when “Black Swan” started. “Cause this is fucked up, fucked up.”
I had eaten an edible about three hours before the show started. I was extremely high and overly sensitive to the feels around me. Although I understand it is my anxious nature, I felt a forced vibe. It could have been me, and it very well could have been my paranoia, but without a full band, Thom was forced to carry the weight of the show entirely on his own. After seeing him play with Radiohead and Atoms for Peace, the stage seemed empty. Even with Nigel Godrich and Tarik Barri, there was too much room, too much unused space. To this lifelong fan, it felt like Thom’s anxiety was showing because he had nowhere to hide. He was exposed, like after OK Computer became a hit.
That is out. I wrote it. Now let’s move on and never speak of it again.
I had never been to Express Live. Smashed into a melding mass of bodies in the pit with my brain melting, I realized how cerebral Thom Yorke music is. It was meditative and transcending.
I talked about going to the show weeks in advance. “Camélia,” I said, “I need this. I need to dance and shake the funk from my body.”
I went on to explain to her how I felt like the stress from the last couple of years had built up like cholesterol in my veins. I also described myself as the river spirit from Spirited Away.
At the show, I was prepared to dance. I had done it for years, but also not done it in a while. As a twenty-some, I spent many nights dancing to release my tension. Even in my thirties, I made an effort to see as much music as possible. Those days have since passed, and I do not dance much anymore. It took an aggressive, drum-loop soloist, Andrea Belfi, to get me started. My body felt stiff and heavy; my feet felt stuck to the ground, and I could not lift my arms. However, if nothing, I am tenacious, so I kept at it.
By “Impossible Knots,” I could feel my hands and feet throbbing with the weight of my stress. The music and my body worked to push out the shit of yesteryears past, and even though it did not entirely flush my essence, Thom Yorke helped to break up some of the funk and get a good energy flow started.
Midway through the concert, possibly during “(Ladies & Gentlemen, Thank You for Coming)” or “Has Ended,” I began to hear the sensual side of Thom Yorke music. Less intellectual, less heady.
That is when I did something I never do; I danced close and intimate with Camélia. (Sorry, Ryan.)
Saying I never do that is not one hundred percent true. When Camélia and I went to see Anderson.Paak, we danced close. That was truly the first time in my life I ever danced that way. In the past, I was that twitching, convulsing dancer who was overly intense and demanded space. However, with my partner in front of me, we moved together. Once I remembered that Thom Yorke’s birthday is near mine, I understood something that had eluded me through the years: Thom Yorke wants to see sexy as much as any other musician.
During “Truth Ray,” I closed my eyes, leaned into my woman, and I did not worry about how high I was, or that I am giving up bartending. Nothing but that moment mattered.
That is why I went to see him: To be in the present.
Everything after that was icing. My momentarily favorite Thom Yorke song, “Traffic,” followed. “Twist” was the last song before the encore. Although I do not care for the twist-twist-twist intro, I do love the song for its layers, complexity, and changes.
Thom came back for a three-song encore and then after Express Live turned on the lights and no one left, he came back for a “Suspirium” final encore.
Final Thoughts: Although I sometimes overcomplicate my thoughts about music, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Thom play in Columbus. It fell on another of my favorite Libra musician’s birthday, Trey Anastasio,