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After 12 years of writing, recording and performing a timeless amalgam of rock, soul and pop that is at once soaring, art-damaged, groove-filled, melodious and wholly original, it is now indisputable that TV on the Radio is among the elite of American bands.
There was no better proof of this notion than TVOTR’s excellent show Friday night (April 3) at Los Angeles’ Palladium in which the now four-piece band (augmented by a drummer and a trombonist/keyboardist) blazed through a fifteen could- and should-be hits showcasing the breadth and depth of the group’s now-classic catalog.
Opening with an amorphous rumbling space jam and vocalist Tunde Adebimpe‘s vocalizations before segueing into 2003’s stomping “Young Liars,” the band’s guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone, multi-instrumentalist Jaleel Bunton and guitarist/keyboardist/producer Dave Sitek proceeded to do what they’ve adeptly done since the early-aughts: create a gauzy cushion of inter-playing sonic soundscapes to complement their unique bash, groove and pop. Mind you, none of this precludes TVOTR from kicking out the foot-stomping punk jams like “Lazzeray” and “Wolf LIke Me” or the emo sing-alongs “DLZ” or “Staring at the Sun.”
This night, however, belonged to Seeds, the band’s wonderful fifth album which came out late in 2014 and took up half of last night’s set. Here, the band easily replicated the underwater pop and soul of “Careful You,” the addictive ’80s new wave jangle of “Happy Idiot,” the strummy and life-affirming “Trouble” (which should be mandatory listening for those battling lousy mood swings) and the undeniably boppy “Ride.” “Could You” with a melodic hook evocative of the Foo Fighters, should have been swapped out for the sublime grooved-out jam that is “Test Pilot” or the dreamscape of “Quartz,” but that’s quibbling.
Seeds is TV on the Radio’s first album since the loss of the band’s long-time bassist Gerard Smith who tragically passed away from cancer in 2011. Some of the album’s more somber tones and themes have been attributed to his passing. That may help explain Adebimpe’s brief soliloquy asking the audience if they had experienced “despair and darkness.” It “sucks,” he said, before having the crowd scream “Light!” in unison. The moment perfectly encapsulated the luminescent evening.
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