David Sitek’s guitar has wind chimes hanging from the end. In a way, it’s an apt metaphor for TV on the Radio’s music. Rock, but with bells on. Sometimes it’s even real bells (of the small and hand-held variety) that they shake during some numbers.
TVOTR have just popped in to the UK for a couple of dates around their appearance at the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s day at ATP. I’m lucky enough to get to see them tonight. I haven’t seen them before, but have heard good things. And I’m not disappointed.
It took me a while to get into their debut album Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes. Maybe on the first listen I was looking for more tunes or something, but as I’ve discovered, that’s not really what they’re about. Their music is dense, complex and beautiful, but not particularly immediate. Give them time, and they will slowly creep up on you. Then you’ll realise you’re hooked.
Live, they take it to another level. There’s more energy, even more urgency in their performance, which really rubs off on the crowd. But they’re intense without being po-faced. Singer Tunde Adebimpe throws himself around the stage in a very focused way, but he also flashes us a lovely smile occasionally. They’re not too cool for school. They look like they really love what they’re doing.
The jazzy elements of Desperate Youth... is missing tonight, but there’s plenty else thrown into the mix. The beautifully blended harmonised and looped vocals. The swathes of layered guitar. The deep, pounding bass. The fantastic beats, which threaten to become just plain funky. Even more percussion, some added by members of support band Celebration coming onstage to help out. Heck, Tunde even pulls out a megaphone for one song. Aside from that, his voice has a fantastic range, going from silky gospel to rock roar and back.
The majority of their set seemed to be taken from their forthcoming album, Return to Cookie Mountain. That meant that most of the crowd won't have heard the songs, but that didn't seem to matter. They still sounded amazing. Of course most enthusiam was shown for known and loved numbers like Dreams and Staring at the Sun, but they even managed to top the lot by a spellbinding rendition of Ambulance as the final song in the encore. No guitars, just vocals, percussion and a bit of beatboxing from Sitek.
I so can't wait for Cookie Mountain. And their return to London.
From Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes...
Download: TVOTR - Dreams
Download: TVOTR - Ambulance
From The Return to Cookie Mountain...
Download: TVOTR - Snakes & Martyrs
Download: TVOTR - Playhouses
Buy Desperate Youth... and pre-order ...Cookie Mountain