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Live Review and Photo Gallery: EOB at Lincoln Center

| February 9, 2020 | 1 Comment

Ed O’Brien (EOB)

Lincoln Hall

Saturday, February 8, 2020

 

Following in the footsteps of bandmates Thom Yorke, Colin Greenwood, and Phil Selway, guitarist and vocalist Ed O’Brien is stepping outside his role as a founding member of Radiohead and occasional high-profile sideman for other artists including Neil Finn. Performing under the name EOB, O’Brien and his sharp band appeared at Chicagos Lincoln Hall on Saturday night. The group introduced material from OBriens debut solo album Earth (due April 17) and added a couple of well-curated and revealing covers.

 

The quintet strode onto the stage in matching black attire, with their lanky bandleader towering a head above his four bandmates. O’Brien struck a casual tone while welcoming the crowd. Its Saturday night, isnt it? asked OBrien. Yay, its the weekend!

The show began with the heavy throb and hypnotic piano of Love Story. Performed as an instrumental introduction, the song featured the siren whine of OBriens ring-modulated guitar. The tone was reminiscent of the distinctive sound deployed on Radiohead songs like My Iron Lung. The band leapt into Shangri-La afterward, familiar to many in the room as the bands fractured but pop-savvy new single. The upbeat song led with a bright and chirpy loop and OBriens falsetto vocal.

 

OBriens descending acoustic guitar pattern and drummer Alvin Ford Jr.s samba beat propelled Banksters. Where did all the money go? sang OBrien as the song shifted gears into an aggressive chorus. The heavy lurch and violent mood swing recalled the innovative shifts in Radioheads Paranoid Android. Eventually, the song resolved into a gliding coda and cribbed from Allen Toussaint and Lee Dorseys Working in the Coal Mine.

 

The concert took place before a packed house of Radiohead devotees and supportive industry guests. Still, OBrien admitted to some jitters. This is our second gig ever, and our first was last night, he said. I was petrified. I just want to say thank you for coming out tonight. I dont take this shit for granted.

 

The EOB band may not have accumulated much collective stage experience yet, but the musicians appeared engaged with the audience and with each other. There were high-fives over the rim of the stage, and frequent smiles flashed across it. The camaraderie on stage and off served to smooth the rare rough edges. OBrien introduced the delicate Long Time Coming as a song about being alone. He started the songs gentle acoustic pattern only to stop and request a bit more lighting so he could see the dots on the neck of his guitar. Rather than pull listeners out of the moment, it was a human touch that brought the room closer together. All we ever needed is someone who said, I believe in you, sang OBrien. The crowd clearly extended such grace to their hero onstage.

 

The song Mass was built upon muted but intense energy, with a low acoustic strum and a steady pulse reminiscent of I Promise. Ross Chapman played melancholy arpeggios on electric guitar, and a trio of voices blended in ghostly harmony. OBrien dedicated the song to friend, drummer and Earth collaborator Glenn Kotche of Wilco, who was watching from the balcony.

 

A cover of German electronic musician and current Tangerine Dream bandmember Ulrich Schnauss On My Own featured keyboardist Hinako Omoris icy synthesizer swells. Sail Onunfolded under dim red light and fog, with a cavernous and haunted vocal. Time for me to say goodbye to everything I know, sang OBrien, his voice full of regret. With no drumbeat and Chapmans ghostly guitar, the song was formless and spectral. The mood was a stark contrast to the tense and urgent krautrock of the prior song.

 

OBrien took another moment to thank his supporters for helping him to exorcise his nerves. Its just me being fidgety,he said. I need all the encouragement I can get. Last night was an out-of-body experience. Tonight is like coming into orbit, but my feet still arent on the ground.

 

The band closed the main set with its most confident performances. Brasil was an expansive showcase of the bands contrasting strengths and musical emotions, with improvisational interplay that stretched beyond the initial singles alreadysubstantial duration of eight and a half minutes. The song shifted between fragility and resolute determination. Its wistful, ethereal and romantic components were reminiscent of Lo Moons spaceborne dream-pop.

 

Olympik was a driving, urbane rocker with slashing guitars and a bodymoving rhythm anchored by bassist Dishan Abrahams. The vibe suggested an alternate realitys heavier version of Pet Shop Boys. Chapmans heavily processed guitar hooks implied affection for Achtung Baby-era U2. Other touchstones included Radiohead burner Ful Stop, the infectious Afro-pop roots of Talking Heads Remain in Light, and Poster Childrens post-rock. As if the music wasnt ambitious enough, OBrien didnt hold back on personal demands in the lyrics. A love supreme is all I need to be waking up from the deepest sea, he sang.

 

The band encored with a final track from Earth, a tender ode to fidelity called Deep Days. Where you go, I will go, sang OBrien, promising to also stay, sleep, rise and follow along with his beloved. The concert concluded as EOB cut loose with the epic funk of Labi Siffres I Got The, a seminal source for popular hip-hop tracks by artists including Jay-Z and Eminem. Chapman led the influential 1975 songs taut guitar riff, and Omori followed with soulful clavinet. It may have been slightly out of character for the bulk of the evenings material, but it was utterly joyous and exposed an unforeseen element of what makes OBrien tick as a lifelong servant and fan of music.

 

Performing eight of Earths nine tracks suggests that OBriens own music travels the arc between Radioheads 1995 sophomore album The Bends and 2001s iconoclastic Amnesiac. The pop and rock songwriting sensibilities of a straightforward guitar band are filtered through the experimental whims of a future-seeking studio rat with a penchant for electro-pop. Its an engaging mix that should appeal to a wide swath of longtime Radiohead fans, as well as being more generally accessible outside the bands fanbase than the electronic fare heard on Yorkes albums including Tomorrows Modern Boxes and Anima.

 

Review by Jeff Elbel. Photos by Curt Baran.

 

Set List:

 

Love Story

Shangri-La

Banksters

Long Time Coming

Mass

On My Own

Sail On

Brasil

Olympik

Deep Days

I Got The

 

EOB “Shangri-La” video: https://youtu.be/N7Djc5z-EMg

EOB “Brasil” video: https://youtu.be/xefWbfWUbrQ

 

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Category: IE Photo Gallery, Live Reviews

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