In theory it should be hard not to let your mind wonder to Radiohead when thinking of The Smile, as half of the band is there, but when you put your ear into their core, chords, beats and words, and that freeing jazz starts rubbing itself with that frantic rock, then you know… The Smile is a star that shines in its own constellation.
Their only Swedish stop on this, their first tour, was held at Cirkus in Stockholm. Armed with an arsenal of synthesizers, a piano, guitars, basses, drums and more instruments, Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood and Tom Skinner performed a parade-like show as they kept on switching between all their instruments in between each and every song.
The night became a pure delight, seeing Radiohead’s primary songwriting duo Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood blending talents outside Radiohead. They are a match made in heaven and can surely read each other’s minds by now.
The band performed all the singles from their album “A light for attracting attention”, which was released on May 13 of this year. They also brought in a few extra unreleased goodies, which Thom Yorke introduced: “we haven’t played this before, let’s see how it goes”. “A light for attracting attention” delivers strapping, rough-around-the-edges rock, blended with brilliant, slant jazz. The Smile’s stage presence falls pretty well into place like a jazz trio, with the drumming and in a few songs also keyboard of Tom Skinner, who already has a steady career in the jazz stages back in London.
The Thin Things and The Smoke were the musical instances that raised the public’s reaction to the fullest. They cheered, danced and clapped to these songs in full exuberance. Another moment of awe was brought by the punk-rockish You will never work in television again, when the opening act, Robert Stillman came up on stage to play the saxophone. I think I even saw people dancing slam to it. If you haven’t heard it, give it a play and you’ll know!
The band’s name does not imply its lyrical meaning: to smile, because as Thom Yorke himself has stated before, the meaning behind the band’s name is “more the smile of someone who lies to you every day” – as in the William Blake poem of the same name. And one can really make a connection to this meaning and the lyrics of the songs which depict a gloomy reality but a reality that also has a sarcastic side and an ever-changing perception.
The Smile’s tour has perhaps just started and this performance, as simple yet elaborate as it was, with all their arsenal of instruments and a panel of LED stripes as the background definitely pleased hard core Radiohead fans and new adepts.