Last week I got to see Thom Yorke’s new project Atoms For Peace play in both Philly and Brooklyn and couldn’t have left more impressed. Back in 2010 at NYC’s Roseland Ballroom I saw what now seems like a rehearsal for the band as a concept and even though those shows were amazing this latest version is much more advanced. The band is comprised of Thom on vocals, piano and guitar, producer and multi-instrumentalist Nigel Godrich, drummer Joey Waronker, percussionist Mauro Refosco and of course Flea on bass. This is a group of master musicians clearly enjoying the chance to do something new. The set list was the same both nights, made up of songs from the Atoms album Amok and Thom’s Eraser solo work but in this setting the material is transformed into something completely different. These versions are stretched out and loose but far too precise not to be rehearsed. The sound is big and edgy with a clear desire to push them as far as they will go. To say that Flea brings a unique energy is an obvious understatement. His presence on stage pushes the other guys, including Thom who seems to enjoy the charged back and forth. Radiohead has always had an impressive light show as part of their stage set up and the lights here were equally impressive, synching perfectly to both match and elevate the mood of the music. Highlights for me included “The Clock”, “Cymbal Rush” and “Harrowdown Hill” as well as the pairing of a piano-driven version of “Ingenue” with album highlight “Stuck Together Pieces”. It was also cool to hear Thom revive his collaboration with DJ Shadow, “Rabbit in the Headlights” from way back in the Mo Wax days – something I think most fans never thought they’d hear live. People must not be that familiar with the name of the band because there were empty seats at both shows in venues that Radiohead or RHCP could likely sell out in less than an hour. This was a unique experience and one I’m not sure will happen again so I was happy to be able to catch a pair of shows on their short tour run. Shout to my Super Fan partners who tripled up and caught them again in DC on Monday.