If you were expecting Radiohead at Thom Yorke’s headlining show last Thursday, December 13 at the Union Event Center, you were in for a surprise. Yes, intact were the singer’s iconically whispery, wobbly vocals and understated lyrics of existential want; everything else, though, adhered strictly to the experimental sound he had carefully cultivated in his solo projects over the past decade.

Photo credit: Charissa Che

Only occasionally armed with a guitar, Thom’s set was low-frills and was more about conveying rather than articulating affect. His first songs, “Interference” was perhaps a friendly way to ease unsuspecting listeners in to what was to come next. “We stare into each other’s eyes / Like jackdaws, like ravens / The ground may open up and swallow us / In an instant / An instant,” go the opening lyrics. Self-deprecating and lullingly repetitive, it was the mainstream Thom Yorke many of us had grown accustomed to.

Photo credit: Charissa Che

The vibe shifted gears rather quickly thereafter. For most of his long set, he was merely zoned in on his soundboard, slithering across the stage in a manner not much unlike the tendrils of smoke that unfurled on the screen behind him. Yorke was feeling himself pretty hard, and was met, if only by the front part of the crowd, with rousing approval. In the back, people swayed, smoked, wandered in and out, and, in the case of the guy next to me, got belligerently entitled about how this was his spot, seemingly having forgotten that he was at a general standing area concert and was more concerned with shoving people “in his way” than the music he was supposedly there for.

Photo credit: Charissa Che

But I digress. Yorke is still on his North American tour, so if you happen to have missed out on this particular sold-out show, consider catching him at one of his three remaining stops, in California and Nevada. And for a sense of what to expect, re(visit) 2014’s Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, from which his setlist mostly drew (sadly, he didn’t perform any songs from the Suspiria soundtrack, but who knows, that may change).

Photo credit: Charissa Che

For more photos from the show, click here.

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