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Review: Thom Yorke

PUBLISHED: 16:10 19 July 2009 | UPDATED: 12:11 29 October 2010

Rob Garratt

“Thanks for inviting me Latitude,” announced Thom Yorke. “When they asked me to do this I thought it was a nuts idea - which is why I did it.

Thom Yorke

Latitude

“Thanks for inviting me Latitude,” announced Thom Yorke. “When they asked me to do this I thought it was a nuts idea - which is why I did it.”

“Nuts” may be an overstatement, but it was certainly an unexpected delight when Yorke revealed, just over a month ago, that he would be playing a rare solo set at this year's festival.

Aside from a handful of TV appearances the Radiohead frontman - regarded by many as this generation's biggest and most-respected bands - has never toured or played alone before.

The specially-created midday slot was ideal, an unofficial headliner, he dodged the mid-afternoon showers and gave campers a reason to get out of bed early.

Everyone was wondering what material he would treat the Suffolk audience to - stripped-back Radiohead classics? Material from his 2006 solo debut The Eraser? Or new, untested songs?

The answer was all three - with five solo tracks balanced again five from the band, and two entirely unheard rarities, the best of which, Follow Me Around, had a enchanting, bluesy groove to it.

Playing entirely unaccompanied, half the set showcased Yorke's distinctive, aching voice against just a moody grand piano and a variety of down-tuned acoustic guitars.

He spent the rest of the time running around the stage picking up different instruments, electronically looping them to create looming soundscapes, layering sounds and textures on top of each other one by one.

A solo-piano take of Kid A opener Everything In Its Right Place got a field of hands clapping along, and the encore - Radiohead castaway True Love Waits - was perhaps the perfect, poignant encapsulation of Yorke's trademark aching melancholia.

A brave experiment, Latitude was the ideal forgiving, accepting audience for an artist of Thom Yorke's calibre to try an endeavour like this. Needless to say, it went down a storm and only further cemented his position as truly unique, original and inspiring artist.

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