Live: Thom Yorke’s Atoms For Peace, a/k/a Flea And A Few Other Dudes, Take Over Roseland


Thom does “Everything in Its Right Place” Monday night

Thom Yorke/Atoms for Peace
Tuesday, April 6

Let’s talk about Flea. He looks, at least initially, ridiculous. Thom Yorke solo is a dense, dour affair, taking the electro iciness of Radiohead’s “Idioteque” and turning it even darker, colder, and further inward, and in Atoms for Peace he has assembled the least joyful funk band of all time — Nigel Godrich on keys, Joey Waronker on drums, Mauro Refosco on various exotic percussion — to fully explore the sumptuous sourness of his 2006 solo record The Eraser, which both ain’t bad and ain’t no picnic. Except now Flea is up there, wearing a shirt for once, bouncing wildly about as if he’s grooving to “Hump de Bump” or “Sir Psycho Sexy” or whatever. It’s hilarious, and initially the worst thing about this show, until you slowly realize it’s quite the opposite.

Flea gets the best part of literally every song: The titanic slap-bass of “Harrowdown Hill,” the noodling melodica on “Skip Divided,” the high-pitched ping-pong pulse of “Atoms for Peace.” (The line “No more talkin’ ’bout the old days/It’s time for something great” triggers a huge burst of applause, BTW.) And his wild-man antics make a lot more sense once you realize Thom dances basically the same way, rubbery and unrestrained and unapologetically goofy. He dances constantly. He is having a hell of a time trying to bum us out.

Thom emerges solo to begin the encore, doing a couple stark, remarkably lyrically straightforward tunes: “Say you love me,” he moans, several times, and folks in the crowd, male and female, take turns complying. At the piano he pounds out “Everything in Its Right Place,” and that’s a thrill, sure, but I kept waiting for Flea to saunter back out and lay some more sweet slap bass down, dancing like he’s back in the “Bust a Move” video wearing stuffed-animal pants (that is him, right?), incongruous as all hell, so wrong and yet so right.