Radiohead’s music is complex to say the least. The band’s music is often very layered and heavily produced, full of intricately placed effects and noises. Consequently, when the band performs, the lads usually attempt to do justice to their records, by capturing all of the sounds found therein. There are no complaints when it comes to a typical Radiohead show.
But how do these sounds translate when Thom Yorke and co. decide to strip things down a bit? While it’s quite rare that Radiohead performs material acoustically, the English outfit has done so on several occasions. In 2003, Thom and Jonny took to Paris’ Le Reservoir to perform some stripped down versions of songs from their then upcoming Hail to the Theif, in addition to songs from their back catalog. They had done the same at New York City’s Electric Ladyland Studios around the same time to promote their recently completed record. The outcome was a very unique experience both for fans and for the band.
Amnesiac’s “I Might Be Wrong” is a strong example of one of Radiohead’s more electric guitar heavy songs, filled with the effects and sounds usually associated with the group, but here Jonny and Thom recreate the loud song on acoustic guitars. It is strange to think that it can be even more powerful and interesting to see a band perform the naked acoustic versions of their heavier songs. Most of the time we’d like to see the heavy songs played loud, but still, sometimes we wonder just what a song would sound like if it were performed with just its bare bones, in a similar fashion to how the song might have sounded just as it was being written. When Radiohead does this, they exemplify just how great the result can be.
“I Might Be Wrong”
There is really nothing like seeing Radiohead perform an acoustic set, and I hope to see one in person someday. Various videos and audio files of these acoustic sets can be found all over the internet, and everything I’ve heard is pretty ridiculous. Acoustic versions of “Paranoid Android” and “Everything in its Right Place” should not be missed. It is difficult to explain why people enjoy seeing and hearing songs played this way, but they certainly do. If you like Radiohead, chances are you’ll think this is pretty cool.
Also, here’s a great interview with all the members about the whole experience. I didn’t think Jonny could smile, but he does quite a bit in the video below.