Review: Lightning bolt The Smile makes virtuoso debut in Paradiso (concert)

The intro of the concert can hardly be heard due to the cheering. Expectations are high in Paradiso and The Smile does nothing to dampen that. No wonder: behind this new band name are familiar faces. In the center, behind the electric piano and with a harp on his lap, is Jonny Greenwood, hidden behind his long hair as usual. Next to him, Thom Yorke dances as associatively as well as rhythmically. Twice Yorke walks to the edge of the stage. Hands on the side. Paradise screams. He grins and continues, with the music. Because that’s all The Smile really does on Friday night: make music. When we are outside after the encore, the sun has not yet set. The regular set fits in an hour.

Photography Arend Jan Hermsen

In December 1995, Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood made their last visit to Paradiso. For this return, in the month that OK Computer Turns 25, Radiohead stays at home. These are musicians who, in their early fifties, are ambivalent about the zeitgeist. They do not follow the latest fashion, but at the same time are inspired by new developments.

Speaking of developments: at home, in London, a vibrant jazz revival has been going on in recent years. A dynamic scene, of which Tom Skinner, as drummer of Sons of Kemet, is a part. Somewhere, Yorke and Greenwood must have noticed that this is, without a doubt, an interesting development. With Skinner, a decidedly dynamic drummer, Yorke and Greenwood seem to have found a freer form of music making. The three recorded material and went on tour.

So today The Smile stops in Paradiso. Except for an obscure solo song by Yorke (Feeling Pulled Apart By Horses) The Smile’s first Dutch show only contains new repertoire. The recently published A Light For Attracting Attention passes by in its entirety and turns out to be sufficient to fill a show. The songs are casual and sometimes sketchy, but are taken dead serious.

There is a lot of variation in atmosphere and pace. The opening of Thin Thing goes so fast that Jonny Greenwood briefly misses the beat. There is then ambient (Pana-Vision), Can-like krautrock (The Opposition), a piece featuring modular synthesizers (Waving A White Flag), a swinging jazz groove (The Smoke) and raging post-punk (You Will Never Work In Television Again† Pieces that are not spun long, never longer than necessary.

This concert gives an interesting insight into the collaboration between Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood. A duo that feels and complements each other seamlessly. Greenwood stands out. He quickly switches between different instruments and roles. One minute he’s supporting the rhythms of Skinner, the next he’s taking the lead. Thom Yorke on the left, medium-length straight hair and gray beard, seems to have found some sort of peace. In April he did an unusually generous set in Switzerland with one crowd favorite after another. Also in Paradiso we see a side of Yorke that was not always visible.

in climax Free In The Knowledge, The Smile’s most beautiful song, Yorke sounds fraternizing. ‘When we get together’, Paradiso echoes, ‘well, then, who knows.’ Connection is a theme that Yorke also touches on in the oppressively crunchy The Samea song that comes close to Yorke’s animation† ‘People in the streets / Please, we all want the same’, he muses. “We’re the same.”

The show is played with speed, eagerness and curiosity. It fits with a start. With a debuting band. But this is a virtuoso debut. Every song the trio uses is welcomed by a different part of the audience as the hit of the evening. A Light For Attracting Attention is already typified as the most beautiful non-Radiohead album by Yorke and Greenwood. At the end the cheers are so loud that Tom Skinner – who drums tight and imaginatively all night long – laughs and sticks two fingers in his ears. The encore proves that the band shares the enthusiasm of the audience. While the vinyl is still at the printer, The Smile already wrote new songs. Friend Of A Friend and Just Eyes And Mouth are a foretaste of things to come. And that can be anything.

Seen: May 27, 2022 in Paradiso, Amsterdam


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