We’re digging into the Far Out vaults to bring you a special performance of one of Neil Young’s most beloved songs from some of his undying fans. It just so happens that those fans are Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead.
In 2003 the duo were in New York when they threw a somewhat impromptu gathering at the Electric Lady Studios. As well as performing some of their own tracks, Yorke decided he would play a song that had been “going round in my head” during the recording of the new record. Amply backed by Greenwood the duo performs Young’s ‘After The Gold Rush’ with arresting beauty.
The footage sees Yorke and Greenwood in a small and intimate space, welcoming the audience like friends into their own little world. When you’re a band as big as Radiohead, it must feel refreshing to play to such small audiences and feel the connection with those in the seats. It is this connection which is clearest of all as Yorke and Greenwood perform the song.
Yorke’s adoration for Young came about in a curious manner. As a 16-year-old he sent some home recordings into the BBC in the hopes of gaining some attention for his songs. “They said, ‘This guy sounds like Neil Young,’” Yorke told the BBC in 2008. “I was like, ‘Who is Neil Young?’”
The singer soon found himself a nearby record shop trying to right his wrongs and picked up Young’s 1970 LP After The Gold Rush. “I immediately fell in love with his music,” said Yorke. “He has that soft vibrato that nobody else has. More than that, it was his attitude toward the way he laid songs down. It’s always about laying down whatever is in your head at the time and staying completely true to that, no matter what it is.”
The performance in 2003 wasn’t the first time Yorke had performed the title track from the album. He also appeared at Young’s Bridge School Benefit the prior year and performed the song on Young’s piano, a moment not lost on the Radiohead man. “This is piano is Neil Young’s piano, and this piano is making me do this,” as he plays the first notes of ‘After The Gold Rush’.
Back to New York and while the roar Yorke heard at the Bridge School dwarfs the ripple of applause at the Electric Lady, the singer, backed by Greenwood delivers an equally captivating performance. The song’s sentiment raining through Yorke’s unique delivery, the surroundings, in fact, only adding to the beauty of the piece.
So, without further ado, take a look back at Radiohead’s stunning performance of Neil Young’s song ‘After The Gold Rush’ from this rare footage in 2003.