From their debut album, Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes, to their recent release, Nine Types Of Light, there is something deeply unsatisfying about much of TV On The Radio’s mercurial, recorded output. They are, at times, ludicrously experimental. There are few genres that they do not try to incorporate into their template, and as a result that template contains many colours, but it is also a hit and miss experience. This is particularly frustrating, as they are clearly a uniquely, supremely talented team, and if consistency was given greater priority they could become a band that you could incorporate into your heart rather than respect from a distance.

The live experience turns this premise on its head. Of course every night out is an adventure. I left home without my passport, two consecutive bars refused to serve this 27 year old, and I ended up downing two tequilas and two pints in the ten minutes before the band set foot on stage. Fuck yeah! Plus, the following video had already set my expectations alight:

Then TV On The Radio put on one of the best performance I have ever seen. It’s not just that they rock in an every day sense; they blew my mind out of my slack-jawed mouth and used my empty skull as a sonic serotonin punch bowl leaving me with the feeling that I was ascending to heaven. It is the velocity and passion of it all that astounds. TVOTR play this show like it is the last before the rapture (when will it be Harold Camping?). Live, ‘Staring At The Sun’ – where the falsetto backing vocals, pulsing guitars and programmed drums on the recorded version create a perfect, low-key balance – driven on by the drums becomes something akin to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Horns blare out, sublime distorted guitar riffs emanate from beneath Kyp Malone’s colossal beard, and Tunde Adebimpe dances and yells both without restraint and with meticulous control. His singing is the band’s greatest strength. ‘The Wrong Way’, ‘Dreams’ and ‘Will Do’ all receive rabid renditions and receptions, but it’s the set closer ‘Wolf Like Me’ that sees the night become something truly exceptional/euphoric. For the encore, ‘Dancing Choose’ also makes for something memorable.

Some could argue that it was insensitive for the band to tour so soon after the death of their bassist Gerard Smith on 20th April, but I can think of no greater tribute to the man, than such an overwhelmingly passionate performance of the music into which he breathed life, and which continues to carry his memory so proudly. Personally speaking, I can say for certain that the recorded stuff has moved from a purely cerebral experience to something life-enhancing and loveable.


Chris Gilliver

I started out writing for the Manchester Evening News as a freelance journalist back in 2008. The idea that I would be given free access to music and gigs seemed somehow miraculous to me, and I proceeded to take full advantage of the situation. When the M.E.N. decided to constrict its coverage to only the very biggest bands, Simon Poole approached me with a plan to make sure that all the very talented musicians of this world that pass through and/or live in Manchester would not go unnoticed. As the New Releases editor here at Silent Radio Towers, it remains my proud duty to cast a critical eye over the music and reviews that come my way in a manner that is both supportive and fair. Above all, I strive to write as entertainingly possible. Favourite musicians include the Pixies, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Mercury Rev, Os Mutantes, The Knife, Beach House etc etc. I'm a firm believer that all genres (except nu-metal) contain music of great quality...