Concert ReviewsHot

Live Review: Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich at NYC’s Le Poisson Rouge (3/14)

on March 15, 2013, 3:43pm


For all the placidity to the music of Radiohead and Atoms for Peace, their fans sure are vicious. Between violent pushing/shouting matches laying claim to space and one turning around to tell me and a friend “I’m literally going to kill one of you” for briefly chatting near the front of the set, there is a deep sense of ownership to this music. When I walked by Le Poisson Rouge at around 8:00 p.m., the line out front already stretched around the corner. Doors were not until 10 o’clock and the set from Thom Yorke and “sixth Radiohead member” Nigel Godrich, was to begin at 1:00 a.m. This is the kind of fanaticism they inspire.

It also speaks to the supply and demand of arena-level rock stars in club-size venues. Because, more than anything, this was a celebrity set. People cheered — a lot — when Yorke pulled his hair back, or when Godrich took off his sweatshirt. This was a victory lap for the recently released Atoms for Peace album Amok, a collection of flanged break beats and cooed vocals. In this DJ setting, songs from that album and Yorke’s Eraser largely came off as rote. Yorke and Godrich and a third party spun the songs for a couple of hours, beatmatching their own tracks to one another and twisting knobs and bobbing heads, while fans flipped out to recognize the opening strains of the tracks and then staidly observe Yorke deliver the vocals.


Yorke and Raidohead are responsible for popular music’s transition out of rock in a lot of ways. But that doesn’t give the frontman license to push subpar litedub platitudes on us like an ordained culture dealer. At points he admittedly couldn’t remember the words to his own songs that are stuffed full of idioms, and during “Amok” he dropped the ball repeatedly on the opening line, “a penny for your thoughts my love,” which is staggering. “Amok” is packed with these everyday phrases and Yorke owes these ravenous fans more than letting them slip. He is a human. But he is a human playing only three of these club-DJ shows and the expectations leveled against him when all he’s doing is singing into a cathedral reverb microphone should be met, easily.


There’s still something mesmerizing about Yorke’s performing, namely when he’s actually wearing a guitar or bass. It’s just a shame the songs performed here aren’t more interesting. As opposed to Holly Herndon, the preceding performer, who delivered fascinating manipulated vocals into minimal techno that without question inspired more movement in the crowd than the Atoms set. The visceral connection to the pulsing climaxes of Herndon’s songs was fascinating to watch because people booed during Herndon’s performance. “This sounds like an art installation,” said one listener disparagingly. Which is odd, because Herndon’s songs sounded a lot like the ones Yorke and Godrich would perform immediately after her. But that’s what cult-leader status buys you: unflagging acceptance of whatever diluted work gets pushed out.

Photography by Dale W. Eisinger

Black Swan (Thom Yorke song)
Stuck Together Pieces
The Eraser (Thom Yorke song)
Before Your Very Eyes…
Atoms for Peace (Thom Yorke song)
Harrowdown Hill (Thom Yorke song)


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March 28, 2013 at 8:56 pm

Its really nice when you read a story that really pisses you off, and when you check the comments everyone has already torn the writer to pieces. Thank you to everyone who spoke straight from my heart. Gonna be at AFP show at the SB bowl in October and I couldn’t be more excited. Anyone talking DURING the set will be reprimanded.

March 24, 2013 at 9:24 pm

I would tell you to shut the fuck up too. Talk between songs or afterward. I don’t pay to hear people run their mouths about what they think a song is about or their opinion. I bet you are a douche who drinks too much and doesn’t know the lyrics to every song.

When you go to a show, shut up. you are there for the music. Festivals use to be a safe haven for good audiences but alas even those are becoming mainstream, so a magically quiet show is far and few between. A music writer should be the person telling people to shut up, not chatting.

March 24, 2013 at 9:25 pm

oh and Alex, why don’t you fire this douche. I won’t read another article by him on the site ever again.

March 18, 2013 at 10:21 pm

This has FTW written all over it!

March 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm

This review is garbage. The crowd was beyond friendly

Talking at shows is flat out obnoxious. If you want to talk go hang back with your boyfriend by the bar or better yet don’t come to the show at all. It irks me that two tickets for this fantastic show were wasted on you guys.

Also, you were literally probably the only person at this show who liked Herndon’s set. It was nonsensical noise.

March 17, 2013 at 12:17 am

Of course the one guy standing up for this douchebag can’t even grasp basic facts about the show ostensibly being reviewed…

It wasn’t a dj set. Or it became one at the end of the night, but the main set was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see one of the biggest musicians in the world in a tiny club, playing a full set of his solo material in a configuration unlikely to ever be repeated.

I am the guy who threatened to kill mr. Eisenger, and he knows as well as I do that ‘briefly chatting’ actually means talking loudly through the entire first song and a half of the show to someone he didn’t even know about how he writes for cos, with no indication that he ever would have stopped if I hadn’t said something. I intended to be more tactful, but I guess what I actually meant beat my attempts to sugarcoat it to my mouth. Several people around us thanked me.

Cos: this kid is really doing your organization a disservice by representing you at shows like that, especially ones that, while he – and, apparently, your site – may not have given a shit about, were undeniably a huge deal, and which lots of people would have given a limb to be at. I’m not gonna say I’ve never opened my mouth at a show, but he was totally That Guy, and I never would have said anything remotely like what I did if his behavior weren’t really beyond the pale. You don’t have to like it, but you could at least show respect for the fact that one of the most influential musicians of the last 20 years was playing the smallest venue in NYC he’s played in as long, and show some respect for its historical significance. As others have said, the fact that you were talking from the moment afp took the stage shows you had no interest in enjoying it, and just wanted to conspicuously waste an opportunity some people paid hundreds of dollars on stubhub for.

It’s funny: I commented to a friend earlier that night that I was glad this show was happening during sxsw, when all the scenesters were out of town. Maybe next year you’ll be able to afford to go, dale…everyone spends the whole week talking about how cool they are instead of listening to the bands; you’d fit right in.

March 16, 2013 at 8:32 pm

twas there – twas a superb and once in a lifetime experience – visual were unearthly – intimacy of venue unmatched – and looking over and seeing David Bryne and Michael Stipe dancing not far from me was unreal – A+ to this fan who started seeing Thom live in 2000 and has done so dozens of time since – will likely never have such a personal experience with him again – after Atoms set Nigel stayed and spun while Thom walked to back of venue to chill with Stipe – the informality of the affair was shocking – time of my life – time of my life

March 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Kind of wish that guy had killed you and your friend

March 16, 2013 at 8:52 am

COS is one of the better blogs that tells you how it is, whats the big deal with talking during a DJ SET as long as your not being obnoxious. I love Radiohead and agree totally with this article. Should of been the whole band anyway.

March 24, 2013 at 10:53 pm

Don’t fuckin go to a show if you go in thinking, oh its a dj set what shit they should all be here. Stay home then and let people who are pumped to be there and have positive vibes fill up the room.

Roland Carfagno
March 16, 2013 at 12:33 am

Dear Dale,
After reading this incisive piece of rock journalism, I can understand why the guy in the crowd told you to shut the fuck up.

March 15, 2013 at 9:04 pm

oh! let me add. You say he played guitar and bass, shame the songs were not interesting… are you crazy? He played Harrowdown Hill and Black Swan, top songs that are on pair with some of the best Radiohead songs! And the fact he forgot some lyrics… WTF! It was some type of DJ set, he was having fun and his fans were having fun, no one was there to sing along to sad lyrics man! this closed minded view on Radiohead fans… chap…. don’t go to a show (much less review it) if you already have preconceived views about it…

March 15, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Your contempt for Radiohead fans and you talking during the gig shows you had made your mind up about your article before the show even started.

March 15, 2013 at 7:42 pm

The fact that you went into the crowd talking shows you had your article already written before the gig even started…

Landon Donavan
March 15, 2013 at 7:39 pm

what is it with CoS and slagging off thom yorke at any opportunity, the guy probably said he would kill you because he knew u were from CoS. i read a lot of reviews on Amok, most were very positive, however, the CoS review was one that made absolutely no sense whatsoever, i have to believe that the chaps at CoS don’t actually listen to the albums, it was a joke of a review but perhaps that is the standard that is acceptable at this little website. and to think the RIOB works along side CoS now, what a shame.

most of the sensible reviews i read, you know, from people who actually took the time to explore the album properly, were very positive, i think it contains some of thom’s best work ever, right up there with the best of radiohead.

I think thom yorke has done enough for music to be able to afford the right to forget a few words here or there, especially in the first performances with little rehearsal, its a party, a night out, just enjoy it like the rest of the crowd were and stop being so dull.

can’t wait for the next radiohead album, wonder what nasty things CoS will have up there sleeve for that review.

March 15, 2013 at 6:51 pm

CoS on dissing Yorke… how surprising. NOT.


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