Thom Yorke has acted swiftly to make up the lost earnings he will have suffered from withdrawing his Atoms For Peace album from Spotify. Although the more cynical might suggest a morning paper round might cover the loss of income, Yorke has decided to choose another route: becoming a shopkeeper. Well, not actually a shopkeeper. He’s a rock star. He can afford to pay someone else to mind the till. (I was hoping it might be Flea. But no). To accompany the band’s London shows, Atoms For Peace have opened their own pop-up shop (or is that pop-up pop shop?).
Gone are the days of overpriced t-shirts sold by heavily pierced individuals behind the ice-cream kiosk of whatever theatre the band are playing in it would seem. Now those overpriced t-shirts are being sold by heavily pierced individuals (but not Flea) in luxury boutiques – or at least as “luxury boutique” as you can get when the shop is above a pub.
The pop-up shop is open across the road from the Camden Roundhouse above the Enterprise pub and and is called The Atoms For Peace Drawing Room. It is one of the more ambitious merchandise stalls I have ever witnessed and contained some exclusive items of memorabilia. Last night, there were queues around the block just to get in and have a look around.
The band described it as a “Part-gallery, part-shop and part hanging-out space” and promised handmade and exclusive vinyl, posters and curiosities for sale, some of which would be ‘live printed’ in The Drawing Room on a specially-installed silk screen printing press. It’s a gauntlet thrown towards the bootleg t-shirt makers of the world – let’s see if they can up their game!
For the uninitiated, Atoms For Peace feature the nuclei (see what I did there?) of Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Nigel Godrich (Radiohead producer) and Flea (from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers). Their debut album “Amok” is a quirky dance / electronica record, very much in the style of Yorke’s debut album “Eraser”. And moving on from the merchandising, as crucial as that is, they played the first of three London gigs last night at a sunny and beach-filled Camden Roundhouse.
Never the most communicative, lead singer Thom Yorke nevertheless appears content touring smaller venues with a new band. It probably doesn’t hurt he has a former member of R.E.M. and a chilli pepper to help him out. Flea certainly looked happy to be there last night, giving the sort of performance that football managers describe as “one hundred and ten percent”, and resembling an even more manic Lee Evans, if such a thing is possible. Yorke sported a “South American footballer’s pony tail” and looked relaxed in the summer heat.
The band ran through tracks from “Amok” as well as “Eraser”, and a devoted crowd lapped it up, from opener “Before Your Very Eyes” to closing song “Black Swan”.
Many of the tracks are beats-heavy and this came through in the live performance. Whilst Joey Waronker played drums, percussionist Mauro Refosco kept busy playing marimba, washboard and at one point an instrument that resembled a bow and arrow (a berimbau perhaps?). The songs sounded perhaps stronger than on record, and Yorke threw a few shapes to encourage the crowd along, whilst Flea span around dressed in a fetching shirt-and-skirt combo…
It was great to see these musicians enjoying playing together in such an intimate venue. Atoms For Peace may be no Radiohead, but in the meantime they will do very nicely. This was a good, upbeat show that managed to get a hot crowd dancing all night – which in the energy-sapping heat was no mean feat. If you have a ticket, you won’t be disappointed. If you don’t? There’s always the merchandise…
Record #216 – Thom Yorke – Atoms For Peace
Open from 12pm to 8pm, the drawing room installation runs between July 24th – 27th. Atoms For Peace play two more Camden Roundhouse shows on Thursday and Friday this week.